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Archive for ‘Administration of Slaw’

The Obstructionist Self-Represented Accused: the Challenge of Control

Of the many challenges facing trial judges, one of the greatest is conducting proceedings with a self-represented accused. Invariably the self-represented accused comes to court with only a rudimentary knowledge of the trial process, often influenced by misleading depictions from television shows and the movies. He or she is unfamiliar with the substantive law, is confused by procedural requirements, and has difficulty grasping concepts such as relevance.

The burgeoning number of self-represented accused in the criminal courts may be explained by cut-backs to legal aid funding across the country, the cost of legal services, mental health problems that make it . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Legal Information, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Lawyers, Courts, and Technology

Many lawyers assume that the Court process is unable or unwilling to take advantage of available electronic technology. Sometimes they are correct.

The problem is often one of communication. In many Ontario centres the lawyers are unaware until the last moment of who will be presiding over their case; and most often judges are unaware of the cases they will be asigned until the day before the hearing or trial. Many judges (myself included) will ask during a pre-trial or management session just what preparation has been made by the parties to reduce the use of paper. Too often that . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Technology

Should Law Offices Go Paperless

At issue in the GasTOPS trial was the development and sale of a software program for the computerized maintain of jet engines and aircraft. The benefits of a Computerized Maintenance Management System are that it reduces maintenance mistakes while at the same time reducing labour costs.

When I fly on an airplane or ride on a train I am encouraged to buy my ticket online. I recently was at my family doctors office and instead of a thick file of handwritten notes covering 35 years of attendances, test results and prescriptions, she brought up my file on a monitor in . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law

The Computerized World of a Circuit Judge

I have been a judge of the Superior Court of Justice for 4 1/2 years. In that capacity, I am asked to preside over a wide variety of cases and hearings which include criminal jury trials, criminal non jury cases, family law trials and motions, civil motions and trials, and a number of other issues.

From the outset, I decided to use my computer in all judicial proceedings where I was presiding for a number of reasons. First, I am left handed and do not write quickly. When I was a lawyer, note taking was always problematic for me because . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Technology

Technology and Its Effect on Access to Justice, Advocacy, and the Judiciary

On the 22nd of October 2002 the evidentiary phase of GasTOPS v. MxI commenced in a regular courtroom in Ottawa Ontario. On March 23, 2006 after approximately 300 days of hearing and after approximately 2800 exhibits (70,000 pages) were entered into the record I reserved my decision. Over the next 20 months counsel submitted their written submissions (3500 pages). On September 25, 2009 I released my Reasons for judgment wherein I granted the plaintiff judgment against the defendants in the amount of approximately $11.1 million dollars.

The trial was conducted in a paperless environment and the trial record consists of . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Practice of Law, Substantive Law

Judges Guest Blogging

This month our guest blogging institution isn’t a firm, but a group of judges from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. As always, when we have an institutional guest blogger, we’ll identify the guest posts with a banner. You’ll see the one below starting tomorrow, Monday:

We hope you’ll join in and give our guest the benefit of you opinions. . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Firm Guest Blogger

Slaw Gets a Mention in Lexpert

I’m pleased to say that Slaw got a great mention in a recent piece in Lexpert Magazine’s Globe and Mail web articles, “Law Firms Test Potential for Social Media,” by Marzena Czarnecka. Yours truly made a couple of cautious comments that got reported; and blogger and Slawyer Jeremy Grushcow got to impart a few words of wisdom. . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw

Dealing With Digital Assets After Death

The New York Times had an interesting blog entry the other day about how one should plan to have one’s digital assets dealt with after death.

The author is not talking about bank or brokerage accounts accessed by electronic means, but about one’s PayPal account, or eBay, or Second Life virtual/real estate, etc — social media assets, as it were — or just personal information that one might not want to survive one’s own ability to control it.

Is this something we should be concerned about in Canada? What would you recommend? Or do most people really have to care . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

Wanted: A Synopsis of Canadian Cybersecurity Laws

I have been asked (by an American colleague) if I know of any synopsis of “Canadian cybersecurity laws”. I am told that this expression means some mix analogous to the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, covering as well wiretaps, crimes, specific requirements for securing data. Core is private sector rather than critical infrastructure or national security.

It is conceivable that there is a chapter or more in the various collections of learning on IT or e-com law on the topic, which Canadian members of this blog are familiar with. Care to name them? Is there a book in Sunny . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Legal Information, Substantive Law, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Checking the Age of Online Purchasers

There is a private member’s bill before the House of Lords in Britain — Online Purchasing of Goods and Services (Age Verification) Bill [HL] 2008-09 — to require online retailers to verify the age of people buying goods whose purchase is restricted by age, e.g. liquor or cigarettes. It is described here.

Some scepticism has been expressed about its desirability, in part based on the difficulty of actually doing what the law would require.

Do you think this kind of law would be a good idea here? Or should we accept as a fact that age restrictions on purchases . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

People Expect More From Government Today

Fifty years ago, if we were to ask Canadians, “What are your expectations of government?” the answer would likely be: “I expect that my government should make good decisions.” Meeting this expectation by making laws, regulations and policies that treated everyone the same seemed an acceptable standard of fairness.

Within the next 20 years, provincial ombudsman offices came into being in Canada and began responding to complaints about instances where those good substantive decisions were not being made – but something else was happening too. As Canada’s population grew and society became more complex, governments at the federal, provincial and . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law

Fairness Principles v. Legal Rights

The quintessential work of a parliamentary ombudsman requires the application of fairness principles to the decisions, actions and general conduct of the public service. These principles require that those decisions, actions and conduct be reasonable; consistent with law; just; and not oppressive or improperly discriminatory.

As a practicing lawyer for over twenty years, I am constantly reminded of the benefits of judicial and quasi-judicial avenues to determine citizens’ legal rights. These benefits include a structured procedure to determine legal rights; access to and the application of established precedents, a rich and sometimes codified body of principles to determine what evidence . . . [more]

Posted in: Firm Guest Blogger, Substantive Law