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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Sometimes Legal Aid Is the Problem, Not the Solution

Introduction

Legal aid is intended to assist the most vulnerable in our society, and ensure that they obtain justice irrespective of their financial situations. Often it accomplishes this lofty objective. Far too frequently it does not.

What is more concerning is how references to legal aid are frequently invoked as an obstacle to legal reforms.

One such example would be for the proposal by the Bonkalo Report for paralegals to practice family law. Not unexpectedly, there are family lawyers and judges who have already come out against it. The most recent are several lawyer organizations and some judges of the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

EFF Publishes New Guide to Mitigating Digital Privacy Risks at US Border

If you care about solicitor-client privilege, travel to the US and use computing technology, then read this:

By its own admission, US border protection conducted five-times as many electronic media searches in a single year—4,764 in 2015 to 23,877 in 2016.

Yup. That’s 500% more cause for anyone travelling to the US to be concerned. Should Canadian lawyers be cautious too? Yes.

America’s digital rights sentinel, Electronic Frontier Foundation, just released its 2017 reboot to its guide for mitigating risks to digital privacy when travelling to the US. The newly minted guide (last revised in 2011) is titled “Digital . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Foreign Law, Technology: Office Technology

Including Paralegals in Family Law – the Bonkalo Report

Few things are as contentious in the bar in Ontario as the scope of paralegals. Created in 2007, paralegals have been practicing under a limited scope which has explicitly excluded the provision of family services.

Last week, Justice Annemarie E. Bonkalo released the Family Legal Services Review report, which was part of the Expanding Legal Services Options for Families review being conducted by the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Although the report also focuses on more unbundled services and coaching by lawyers, and use of law students to provide family law, it recognizes,

The most controversial recommendations, however, will be

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Lawyers Earning Our Respect Amongst the Public

The perception of lawyers among the general public is a concern that often emerges among those in leadership positions in the profession.

Granted, some of that negative reputation may be warranted, and there are lawyers who put their own self-interests before their clients, or who behave aggressively and inappropriately with other parties. But these lawyers are still the exception, even in an era of controversy over civility.

Those of us in the field usually know and appreciate that lawyers are the fabric of civilized society, and we ensure that fairness and justice permeate every aspect of society where we are . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Dismantling the Roadblocks to Judicial Diversity

Over a century ago, without his knowing it, legendary jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes spawned the case for judicial diversity in ten words: “the life of the law is not logic, but experience.” Bursting from these words is a truth we have known all along. Legal issues often pose uneasy choices. In choosing whose stories to believe and which principles to prioritize, a judge draws on not only legal precedents, but also personal experiences, values and beliefs.

However they might try, judges cannot shed their experiences and values at the courtroom door. Justice Bernd Zabel brought the point home when he . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Travelling Supremes

The law may be principled, but it is ultimately pragmatic. Laws seek to address societal problems (the mischief rule), but also make sense (the golden rule). In fact, I’d argue that it has always been this way.

The presence of the principles of equity in the common law, infused with the coming of the Judicature Acts  of the 19th c., sought to reconcile the literalism of rule-based decisions and the goal of fairness that previously existed in two independent court systems.

We can go back even further to find hints of this in the common law. The search for pragmatism . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

No Access to Remote Justice in L’Orignal, Ontario?

Recently we took on two Small Claims Court actions for good clients. In both cases we acted for the plaintiff.

Anyone who has commenced a Small Claims Court proceeding knows that the Small Claims Court Rules provide that the plaintiff is generally required to commence the action in the jurisdiction where the defendant lives or carries on business. In both cases our client operated from Toronto. In both cases, we had to commence the action in L’Orignal, Ontario as a result of that being where the defendant carried on business.

For those of you who don’t know, L’Orignal is about . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Technology

Someday We’ll Find It, the Rainbow Connection

The quotation below contains the first paragraph and part of the conclusion of an article with the title of this post. You will find that article on the University of Alberta Faculty of Law Blog, here.

One might assume that LGBT rights in Canada were worse the further one delves back into our history. This would be incorrect. While LGBT rights in 1867 were nowhere near what they are today, it’s important to note that things actually got a lot worse before they got better.

To those of our readers in law school, legal professions, politics, and others

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Systemic Racism as a Basis for Excluding Evidence

Introduction

The existence of racism in our legal system is no surprise.

David Tanovich has written extensively how the Charter has still largely been ineffective in addressing racism in the criminal justice system. Faisal Mirza has explained how mandatory minimum sentences disproportionate affect black Canadians, and he wrote this in 2001, before the additional sentences added in 2009.

We can go even further back to 1993, and the Commission on Systemic Racism in the Ontario Criminal Justice System, which described a widespread and prevalent prejudice against blacks as follows:

First what we are dealing with at root, and

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

#Research4Refugees: A Cross-Canada Law Student Effort

An inspiring event began late last week and rose to a crescendo on Saturday: the law student-driven Research-a-thon for Refugees. The 12-hour distributed pro bono legal research marathon was kickstarted in a whirlwind of spark of initiative, quick communication, outreach, collaborative effort, and perhaps a bit of collective consciousness.

Volunteer law students receiving an immigration and refugee law overview from UVic Professor Donald Galloway

The goal of #Research4Refugees was to produce a collaboratively researched document for a Canadian NGO, focusing on interpretation and application of the US-Canada safe third country agreement for arriving refugees, on a project managed by . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Justice Issues, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Courthouse Libraries BC Hosting Webinar for Canadian Lawyers on the Impact of Recent Executive Orders


I feel I must write this quick, as every day the terrain shifts and the battle lines move in the escalating conflict between the 45th POTUS and virtually the entire machinery of justice.

FYI, the ABA yesterday released its resolution 10C calling on Trump to withdraw his order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Less than two weeks ago Trump started the whole mess when he slapped on brass knuckles to deliver not one, not two, but three immigration-related executive orders to finish his first week as President.

The world sucked wind.

Even north of the 49th people . . . [more]

Posted in: Announcements, Education & Training: CLE/PD, Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Foreign Law

An Uber Class Action Comes to Ontario

It was bound to happen. As I noted here last year, Uber has been facing challenges to its work model in multiple jurisdictions.

A class action was recently filed in Ontario, focusing on the employee/independent contractor distinction, but also raising some other interesting arguments. In particular, the plaintiffs claim that the arbitration agreement that Uber drivers are forced to sign is in contravention of the Employment Standards Act and unfair, as it requires class members to travel to Amsterdam, Netherlands to resolve their disputes.

Despite being a highly mobile workforce, the route from Ontario to the Netherlands by car is . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology