This column is an unintended and rather abstract follow-up to my last column entitled “Self-Represented Litigants Are Not Things” on the need for reformers to better consider the unique “real life” perspectives of lay litigants when redesigning justice system rules and processes. (It also marks the first time that I have written a column using the first person singular— a monumental occasion for me in overcoming anal retentive tendencies and long-misplaced notions of “proper” writing style.)
Archive for the ‘Justice Issues’ Columns
This has been quite a rule of law year. One peak was in August 2012, when the United Nations General Assembly devoted its first-ever opening debate to the rule of law and adopted a Declaration on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels. As Juan Botero, director of the World Justice Project poetically described it to me: “193 government leaders walked up to the podium and said rule of law is good. And that is good.”
It is. But it could have been better. In March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report called Delivering Justice . . . [more]
Pioneer of the Justiciable Problems Approach to Access to Justice in Canada Moving to the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice
Ab Currie, currently Chief Research Advisor and Principal Researcher: Legal Aid and Access to Justice, in the Federal Department of Justice, is leaving the Government of Canada to join the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice (CFCJ) as the Senior Research Fellow. CFCJ is Canada’s leading non-governmental independent think tank devoted to research and policy development on access to civil justice and civil justice reform. Dr. Currie will also hold a visiting appointment at the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, where CFCJ is currently housed. He will be fully engaged at the CFCJ by April 1, 2013.
Ab Currie, originally trained . . . [more]
Written with Meredith James
It’s a horror story – the beautiful glass-walled building you may work, shop or live in are killing millions of migratory birds. Many SLAW readers are likely familiar with the distressing thud of a bird breaking its neck or wing on those lovely glass panes, often at night when building lights are left on.
At least 1 million migratory birds die in Toronto alone each year due to collisions with buildings. The birds become confused by reflections and lights in urban areas and fly into windows at full speed. Often killed or badly injured, they fall . . . [more]
Let me start by saying I don’t condone shoplifting. Seen as a mere nuisance by some, the ‘five-finger-discount’ is a petty crime that exacts a heavy toll year after year on retailers – be they big box chain stores or mom and pop corner varieties. The cost is initially born by the store-owner but ultimately passed along to lawful consumers by way of increased prices to account for the overhead costs of security and the loss of inventory.
Many shoplifters are doubtless serial offenders with a pathological disrespect for the lawful property rights of others. However, in my experience having . . . [more]
With all the excitement of a cosplay buff just ahead of Comic-Con, I anxiously awaited the Law via the Internet conference held in early October at Cornell University in picturesque Ithaca, NY. The 3 day event included the annual get together of the Free Access to Law Movement, CanLII’s peer group from around the world, as well as 30+ papers, presentations and panel discussions from a highly varied cross-section of legal information innovators. Sporting attire appropriate to the occasion (I went with a look that screamed I’d-prefer-to-dress-like-I-have-tenure-but-I-just-came-from-a-grant-request-meeting) I took it all in with a mix of delight and dissatisfaction.
On . . . [more]
There was a minor kerfuffle a few months ago over a new course offering at UBC Law. LAW 481C.002 – Access to Justice and the Future of the Legal Profession drew its three listed faculty members from the Vancouver office of an old-guard national law firm with ample apparent concern for the future of the legal profession, but little discernible track record of proactivity, innovation or anxiety around the access to justice issue. Most notably, the course faculty included a former BC Attorney General who had orchestrated a 40 percent cut in legal aid funding a decade prior, and who . . . [more]
Last week, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of hours digging through old Debates of the Senate so that I could pinpoint references I had made in my current thesis to material I read 30 or 40 years ago. One of the points for which my browsing these old debates brought to mind was that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms has what I will call a “pre-history” that is very little known.
(I generally dislike the term “pre-history” because I’ve mainly encountered it in the context of Indigenous experience before the coming of the white man. . . . [more]
Everyone in civil society instinctively knows you can’t hit your spouse. You can’t punch your waitress. You can’t kick your cab driver. We know these things without having to read section 265 of the Criminal Code of Canada that governs assaults. And yet, if you never dusted off the old Criminal Code and turned to section 43 you might not assume that it’s OK for a parent, schoolteacher, or anyone “standing in the place of a parent” to use “force by way of correction” that is “reasonable under the circumstances.”
The so-called “spanking law” has been challenged and upheld as . . . [more]
Call me Carl.
For a week in August, I played the role of law student intern to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. My kids were thrilled because it meant they could call me Carl – just like the student intern to Major Monagram on the Disney XD cartoon Phineas and Ferb. While I was not blessed with a theme song like my namesake, I did get a great experience and possibly an early peek on New York state’s latest advance in the promotion of access to justice.
It was only weeks after my experience . . . [more]
Last week, the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters, chaired by Justice Tom Cromwell, released for public consultation two of four reports from its working groups. The work of the Action Committee is guided by a vision of Canadian society where:
- Justice services are accessible, responsive and citizen focused;
- Services are integrated across justice, health, social and education sector;
- The justice system supports the health, economic and social well-being of all participants;
- The public is active and engaged with, understands and has confidence in the justice system and has the knowledge and attitudes needed
. . . [more]
One of our current cases deals with a question that is critical to everyone in the waste business: can biased sampling make a waste “hazardous”?
Approvals typically require waste management companies to manage wastes based on “representative samples”. Thirty years of guidance documents, and several cases, have also held that waste must be characterized as hazardous, or not, based on “representative samples”. The US Environmental Protection Agency noted, since 1986, that inaccurate and imprecise sampling can cause a solid waste to be inappropriately judged hazardous.