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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Prioritizing Racial Diversity in Judicial Appointments

Diversity matters. Not just for the optics of it, or because it’s the right thing to do.

Having diversity at the heads of our social institutions, especially our judiciary, actually helps them do a better job. Diverse experiences, as a Canadian and as a lawyer, provide unique insights that other judges simply do not have. If you dispute that notion, it’s better saved for another day.

Today we’re dealing with a government that has made a commitment to diversity in the judiciary. The problem is that those commitments already appear contradictory.

Although the lack of racial diversity in Canada . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Access to Justice? Yes in My Back Yard.

The past few months have seen some inspiring firsts for access to justice in Ontario. Ryerson University’s Legal Innovation Zone (LIZ) launched the Ontario Access to Justice Challenge with support from the Ministry of the Attorney General. The challenge brings an entrepreneurial approach to access to justice improvements by offering seed funding to six start-up companies that “are building products and solutions that challenge the status quo of legal services” in Ontario. It’s exciting to think about this new terrain of “start-up justice” and encouraging to see government take such a proactive role in its advancement.

Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Merit and Diversity in Judicial Appointments

With Justice Cromwell’s surprise decision to resign this September, the Federal Liberals promising reform of Supreme Court appointments, and recent media discussion around the political edges of judicial appointments, The Law Society of BC yesterday offered recommendations to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould promoting four core principles for the judicial appointment process. They are: “transparency; judicial independence; merit and diversity; and public participation.”

The July 18, 2016 announcement references the report from a recently formed subcommittee of the Law Society of BC’s Rule of Law and Lawyer Independence Advisory Committee, titled “Principles for the Appointment of Justices to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Gladue-Type Sentencing Needed for Blacks in Canada

The controversy over the shootings in Dallas and protests all across the U.S. are not confined to that country alone. The Black Lives Movement is alive and well in Canada, most visibly stopping the Pride Parade last weekend in Toronto to draw attention to their cause.

But what is their cause in Canada, if much of the media attention and high profile incidents are largely American?

Janaya Khan recently articulated some of the issues that Blacks face in Canada. We have an abysmal record when it comes to justice issues related to First Nations, with indicators worse than our American . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

“Silly Rules” of Immigration Law

Our beloved Minister McCallum is on yet another tour, meeting with employers and stakeholders in the Atlantic provinces to boost a pilot project: Atlantic Growth Strategy. During the presentation, our Minister indicated, “We are committed to streamlining things, to getting rid of silly rules […]” I supposed I am still shell-shocked from the rhetoric of our previous government but I cannot overstate the change in perspective from our current Minister compared to past Ministers.

Minister McCallum did not elaborate on which of our current immigration rules are the “silly” rules. Based on conversations with clients, I regularly hear, “and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Legislation

What if…2.0

Nearly a year and a half ago, I got a little frustrated with a lack of progress toward increased access to justice and started this What if… list. I looked at the list again today, because lately I’ve been feeling just that way again.

I have been thinking about what is needed to effect the kind of change that is needed. Does A2J need a knight on a white horse riding in from a neighbouring kingdom to set things aright? Though that could make a great movie (I think a younger Al Pacino might play the knight?) it seems an . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Making a Canadian Murderer

Last night Dean Strang & Jerry Buting, two American attorneys, stopped by in Toronto to give a talk. The lawyers are known from the Netflix original crime documentary, Making A Murderer, which might be Netflix’s most successful show to date.

Strang and Buting were defence lawyers for Steven Avery, a man from Manitowoc County, WI who was exonerated through DNA testing after serving 18 years of a 32 year sentence for rape and attempted murder. The controversy over the documentary though deals with Avery’s second charge, over the murder of another woman after his release. The purpose of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

How Many Wake-Up Calls Do Our Legal Profession and Court System Need?

Last week, the Toronto Star ran a widely publicized story about a criminal proceeding, in which the accused was charged with drug offences. He earned $16,000 in 2015, which was too much for legal aid but not enough for a lawyer. Therefore, Justice Ian Nordheimer of the Ontario Superior Court stayed the proceedings until the government paid for counsel.

Sadly, stories like this are too common. The legal system, too convoluted to navigate without a law degree, means that the most vulnerable are left in the lurch. Compelled to interact with the judicial system yet unable to afford counsel and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology

More Abuse of Our Justice System by Residential Tenants

I’ve written a number of posts lately about tenants who abuse the system and the calls from the judiciary to have our tenancy laws reformed. A decision released two weeks ago is another all-to-familiar another example of how residential tenants can game the system to their advantage.

 

The tenant entered into a one year lease agreement with the landlord on July 15, 2015. He took possession of the unit on July 20, 2015. He paid his first and last month’s rent but did not make any of the other rental payments (which were to be $1,400 per month).

  . . . [more]

Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues

Of Cybernetic Shysters, Artificial Intelligence and Guardians of the Rule of Law

“Here I make an intelligent being out of a bunch of old wires, switches and grids, and instead of some honest advice I get technicalities! You cheap cybernetic shyster, I’ll teach you to trifle with me!”
And he turned the pot over, shook everything out onto the table, and pulled it apart before the lawyer had a chance to appeal the proceedings.

– The Cyberiad

Happy Monday! Like F. Tim Knight, I am getting back on the “blogwagon” this morning with an overdue post… also about AI following the session I was a panelist on at the recent Canadian . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice, Technology

Increasing Funding for Legal Aid Is Not Enough

Lawyers pushing for greater access to justice constantly fall back on the refrain that Legal Aid needs more funding. That might be true, but the real problem with access is the eligibility criteria for Legal Aid certificates.

This was illustrated recently in a recent criminal case in Toronto, R. v Moodie, where Justice Nordheimer reviewed a Rowbothom application. The Ontario Court of Appeal created a process R. v. Rowbotham whereby the right to fair trial can demand public funds be used for representation

[170] …where the trial judge finds that representation of an accused by counsel is essential to

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

Smoky Ethical Waters Around Marijuana Dispensaries

If you take a stroll pretty much anywhere in downtown Toronto these days, you’re likely to walk into one of the dozens of marijuana dispensaries that have popped up everywhere in the city. But just as quickly as they arrived, they are being shut down too.

On Thursday Toronto Police conducted a sting dubbed “Project Claudia,” with search warrants executed for 43 different locations, seizing 270 kg of products. That’s fine, these dispensaries are still illegal, and are not part of the process for distributing medically required marijuana use.

Project Claudia wasn’t just about shutting these dispensaries down. The police . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues