Jessica Zita is a partner at Lockyer Zaduk Zeeh. She practices criminal, constitutional, and public law. Jessica has represented clients at all trial and appellate levels in the country, including at the Court of Appeal for Ontario, where she regularly appears, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Jessica has acted as counsel in numerous jury trials. She has successfully defended clients charged with offences ranging from armed robbery to first degree murder. She has also assisted individuals facing action before the Law Society of Ontario, the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers, and the Immigration Division. She also maintains a Prison Law practice where she helps clients navigate the correctional system. She conducts many parole hearings each year, and most recently secured release for a client serving a life sentence for two counts of murder. As a proud advocate against wrongful convictions, Jessica also works with her clients to prepare ministerial review applications in pursuit of exoneration.
Jessica has appeared as appellate counsel on over 60 reported matters. Her cases have had groundbreaking impact on the protection of an accused person’s rights before the criminal justice system. In a recent appeal, Jessica and James Lockyer successfully fought against the state’s efforts to shift the burden of proof onto the accused in sexual assault cases. In doing so, Jessica and James ensured that persons charged with sexual assault offences are afforded the same protections under the law as all other accused persons.
In addition to her private practice, Jessica acts as Duty Counsel at the Ontario Court of Appeal through its prestigious Pro Bono Inmate Assistance Program. In 2021, Jessica was invited to participate as counsel in the Mass Casualty Commission, an Inquiry formed by the Federal and Provincial governments in response to the April 2020 Nova Scotia mass shootings. In 2022, she made closing submissions to the Commission that informed its Final Report.
Jessica received her Juris Doctor at Osgoode Hall Law School and her Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree at the University of Toronto. During law school, Jessica was a judicial extern at the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal. She is also an alumna of Osgoode’s Criminal Law Intensive Program, and a recipient of the Wendy Babcock Social Justice Award and the Legal and Literary Society’s Student Honour Award.
Jessica has been featured on the CBC, the former Law Times, Hot Docs Film Festival, and published in The Lawyer’s Daily. She is a prior editor for the textbook Criminal Procedure in Canada, and was an annual contributor to the Supreme Court Law Review (2017-2021). Jessica has also guest lectured at the University of Calgary, Simon Fraser University, and Osgoode Hall. She has been recognized as a Top Lawyer in Toronto in the area of criminal law by Post City Magazine.
Call to the Bar
- Ontario 2017