Heather Ferg was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. Her lifelong passion for education led her to pursue two undergraduate degrees (one in Political Science and one in English), which she completed at the University of Calgary. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Ferg enrolled in the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law program where she obtained her LL.B.
Building on the foundation of her law degree, Ms. Ferg articled under the guidance and direction of Ian McKay of Dunn & McKay and Karen Molle. Following her articles, Ms. Ferg was welcomed as an Associate at Evans Fagan Rice McKay. Ms. Ferg is now a Partner at McKay Criminal Defence LLP.
Ms. Ferg is an accomplished criminal litigation lawyer who practices exclusively in the area of criminal defence. Her work includes a strong focus on legal research and analysis (particularly with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). Ms. Ferg’s experience and understanding of the Charter makes her an invaluable resource not only to individuals charged with criminal allegations, but also to the greater legal community. Ms. Ferg often assists other counsel with their legal research and helps them develop their trial strategy. She also co-counsels larger matters, particularly when there are complex Charter motions involved.
Ms. Ferg has appeared in all levels of Court in Canada (including the Supreme Court of Canada).
She has experience in numerous areas of criminal litigation including:
- Pre-charge advice & consultation
- Bail & Bail reviews
- Property offences
- Crimes of violence & sexual offences (including historical allegations of assault and sexual assault)
- Impaired driving
- Drug offences (including trafficking, production, importation and criminal organization)
- Fraud & Economic crimes
- Wiretap & Proceeds of crime
- Civil Forfeiture
- Appeals (which includes Summary Conviction Appeals in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Conviction and Sentence Appeals in the Alberta Court of Appeal and Leave Applications and Appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada)
Ms. Ferg’s areas of written advocacy include:
- Legal Opinions
- Research Memoranda
- Charter Notices & Written Arguments
- Sentencing Submissions
- Appellate Facta
- Law Society of Alberta
- Calgary Criminal Defence Lawyer's Association
- Criminal Trial Lawyer's Association
- The Advocates' Society
- Innocence Canada case reviewer (formerly the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted)
- Calgary Coordinator of the Alberta Court of Appeal Sentence Appeal Duty Counsel Project
Heather Ferg's Selected Cases
R v Y.Z.
Y.Z. and a co-accused were charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life after an elderly person under their care sustained injuries during an accident and subsequently died. Ms. Ferg was retained and after securing initial disclosure (which included extensive medical documentation) the matter was set for trial. After numerous discussions with the Crown, Ms. Ferg successfully had the charge against her client completely withdrawn. Y.Z. avoided a criminal record and was able to continue working in her field.
R v D.R.
D.R. was convicted of importing approximately 5 lbs of a Schedule 1 substance (Opium) into Canada contrary to section 6(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. After conducting an initial review of the file, Ms. Ferg obtained the disclosure from the original trial and conducted some additional inquiries. After lengthy discussions and negotiations with the Crown, the matter was sent back to the Court of Queen’s Bench for a new trial without the need for a full hearing before the Alberta Court of Appeal.
R v. A.D.
A.D. was charged with possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and simple possession under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act as well as possession of proceeds of crime under the Criminal Code of Canada after his car was searched during a traffic stop. The drugs alleged to be involved were Alprazolam, Marihuana and Cocaine. Mr. McKay was retained as counsel and the matter was set for trial. Prior to trial, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg filed an extensive Charter notice alleging numerous violations of A.D.’s rights. The arguments included violations of A.D.’s right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, insufficient grounds for arrest, as well as a violation of A.D’s right to counsel. The Charter notice also alleged that the police officer who arrested A.D. was abusive in her conduct and violated his section 7 right to life, liberty and security of the person.
The matter proceeded to trial and the parties entered into a voir dire to hear evidence in relation to the Charter motion. After the testimony of the arresting officer, the parties had discussions and the matter was resolved. While the charges he was facing carried a potential for significant jail time, A.D. pled guilty to two counts of simple possession and received a fine.
R v C.D.
After an extensive police investigation involving numerous wiretaps, C.D. and a co-accused were charged with discharging a firearm with the intent to wound, maim or disfigure in relation to a drive-by shooting. The matter was set for a multi-week trial before a jury in the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta. Prior to trial, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg had numerous meetings and discussions with Crown counsel. The matter was stayed the last business day before the trial was set to commence.
R v T.P.L.
T.P.L. was charged with second-degree murder after an incident that occurred in the early morning hours at a rural house party. Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg came onto the file after the preliminary inquiry and the matter was scheduled for trial.
In the months leading up to the trial, Mr. McKay and Ms. Ferg sought further disclosure from the Crown and litigated two pre-trial motions. In terms of disclosure, the defence was able to obtain a number of important pieces of information in relation to the Crown’s star witness. This information was vital in destabilizing his credibility in cross-examination and casting doubt on what he said happened that night. The second pre-trial motion was an application to have a deceased eye witness’ prior statements introduced into evidence at trial. The version of events contained in this witness’ evidence was critical to the theory of the defence and was one of the only avenues available to corroborate what T.P.L. said happened. Both pre-trial motions were successful.
The trial was held before a judge and jury in superior court. It ran significantly longer than the parties anticipated and over the course of the trial, a number of unexpected legal issues arose. After the close of the Crown’s case, T.P.L. testified in her own defence. The case was left with the jury. After less than 24 hours of deliberation, the jury came back and T.P.L. was fully acquitted. She left court totally exonerated and was able to return home with her family.