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Archive for the ‘Justice Issues’ Columns

Did the LSO Hold Back Court Modernization and Performance?

According to the meta description on its website, “[t]he Law Society’s Rules of Professional Conduct (“Rules”) express the high ethical ideals of lawyers, and specify the bases on which they may be disciplined.” To date, and unlike in other jurisdictions[1], this has not included any requirements for basic technological competence. Thus, the current Rules are entirely devoid of the terms ‘computer,’ ‘technology’ or ‘data.’ While the internet is mentioned, it appears only twice, and then, only in relation to advertising. Could this omission, or the failure of the Law Society to test new licensees on technological . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Technology

The Implications of J.N. v. C.G. for SRL’s, Anti-Vaxxers, and the Judicial Role

“When did it become illegal to ask questions? Especially in the courtroom?” This is the opening line to Justice A. Pazaratz’s decision in J.N. v. C.G., (2022). [1] This provocative line sets the tone for a decision delivered almost entirely through frank obiter. When reduced to its ratio, J.N. v. C.G. is a case about whether the court can require a parent to vaccinate their children, and whether a judge should rule on the appropriateness of these beliefs and decisions. What makes the decision notable is how Justice Pazaratz uses wide-sweeping comments to engage numerous societal issues, including free . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

But Now a Lawyer Comes to Them – the North Halton and Wellington County Rural Mobile Law Van and Winter Indoor Venues

Bringing people-centered justice to all will fail if we wait for people to come to the door of a law office asking for help. Justice must be made as accessible as possible by going out to where people live or spend much of their time. The rural mobile law van operating in the Wellington County and North Halton area just west of the City of Toronto is so far showing success in expanding access to justice in a rural area by extending that proactive offer of service, making legal assistance at least more accessible than before. A six-month pilot project . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Criminal Contempt and “Rule by Law” in New York: Trial Monitors Reflect on US v. Donziger

The recent findings of an international trial monitoring panel in the case of United States v. Donziger reveal the failure of a New York court to ensure a fair trial in accordance with international law and human rights standards. As the panel concluded in their extensive report, critical changes are needed in laws, rules, and courtroom procedures to ensure that the methods of US federal courts match their longstanding mission to uphold the rule of law.

* * *

In September 2020, an international group of legal academics and practitioners (which include the writers of this article) convened to examine . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Innovation Is Required to Address the Access to Justice Crisis

Before I became a lawyer, I had this naive T.V. inspired understanding of the justice system. Anyone who went to court had a lawyer to advocate for them, unless they were nuts or had a genius level intellect, but in either case the gallery would gasp when the self represented litigant announced, “I am representing myself”.

However, the reality I came to know after becoming a lawyer myself is that the majority of people engaging with the Canadian justice system have no choice but to represent themselves at some stage in their legal proceedings.

Since taking on my first family . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

An Ethical Update: Time for the Law Society of Ontario to Act

The specialized knowledge and training of lawyers is supposed to make them uniquely positioned to engage in the practice of law. But it also underlies a fundamental assumption about the workings of litigation — that lawyers work with and against other lawyers who are equally trained and well-matched. Such an assumption underscores the functioning of the adversarial system, the ethical duties of lawyers operating within it, and the legitimacy of the outcomes reached in the adversarial system.

However, the validity of this operative assumption may be undermined by certain practical realities — whether most lawyers in the adversarial system are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Understanding the Needs of SRLs in Atlantic Canada: The National Self-Represented Litigants Project Opens an “East” Chapter

We are very happy to announce that the National Self-Represented Litigants Project has opened an East Chapter (NSRLP-E) to serve and advocate for the needs of self-represented litigants (SRLs) in Atlantic Canada. While we have only just begun the Project, our staff and students have been preparing directories of services for all the Atlantic Provinces, primers, public legal education materials, and case summaries.

Importantly, our students are hard at work reaching out to SRLs and writing reports that will help guide our work on the needs and experiences of SRLs in Atlantic Canada.

For example, one of our researchers recently . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Escalating Threats to Colombian Human Rights Advocates: The Day of the Endangered Lawyer, 24 January 2022

Colombia has long been one of the most dangerous places in the world for human rights advocates, but the danger intensified in 2020 and 2021 with a surge of massacres and assassinations of human rights defenders and community leaders. The dire situation in Colombia has drawn the attention of the international coalition for the annual Day of the Endangered Lawyer marked each year on 24 January.

This year, LRWC is working with the Law Society of Ontario’s Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Watch to organize an online event to discuss the situation of lawyers at risk in Colombia. The . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

An Afghan Law Librarian on the Demise of His Country’s Legal System

“There is nothing we can do right now. Afghanistan’s justice system [has] collapsed [right] now. If we say that Afghanistan’s justice system has collapsed since the Taliban took over, we might not be exaggerating.” said Adnan, a nickname of the person I interviewed with him, chosen for security reasons. He shared these words during our online interview in mid-November 2021. Adnan left Kabul, Afghanistan in July 2020 where he was working as a Legal Advisor with the government of Afghanistan. Through this position and previous ones, Adnan has managed to make quite an impact on law librarianship both inside and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

Struggling for Accommodation

Written by Silvia Battaglia and Shannon Meikle, law students and NSRLP Research Assistants

The NSRLP receives a great deal of mail from our community, and every week we receive emails from people sharing their experiences as self-represented litigants (SRLs). Last year, we began receiving a lot of emails from SRLs who had requested accommodations in the legal process, needing courts to recognize and adapt to their cognitive disabilities (requesting, for example, more time to respond, frequent breaks in hearings, etc.). In a nutshell: they were not being accommodated. We read their stories with concern and became aware of the need . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Overcoming Access Hesitancy With the Legal Health Check-Up

Access hesitancy is a widely acknowledged and persistent barrier to providing access to justice services. The people-centered approach that is integral to the Legal Health Check-up (LHC) can identify disadvantaged people with problems and provide them with help, in a manner that they will hopefully perceive as providing fair and just resolutions to the problems with which they are struggling. In that way, the LHC model offers a one good solution to the problem of access hesitancy.

The original Legal Heath Check-up project, carried out by Halton Community Legal Services (HCLS) began with the objective of recruiting community organizations . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The “Two Michaels” and Celil: Windows Into China’s Legal Gulag

The “two Michaels,” Kovrig and Spavor, are not the only Canadians who have been unjustly imprisoned in China. Another Canadian, Huseyin Celil, has been jailed in China since 2006 on specious “terrorism” charges for peacefully advocating the rights of Uyghur people.

These cases provide windows into the morass of everyday violations against Chinese human rights advocates ensnared within China’s legal system. They also provide glimpses into some of the ways China flexes its international muscles to sustain its impunity for rights violations, including atrocity crimes.

China’s opaque legal system and international human rights law

China has no independent legal . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues