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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Can Skype Be Used for Testimony in Court?

The Indian Supreme Court is to deal with a challenge to evidence of the complainant in a rape case that was taken by Skype. The complainant is Irish and is now in Ireland, and does not want to return to India for the trial.

The accused submits that the quality of the recording is not good enough to admit the evidence.

Does anything about the use of Skype in this case, or in general, make you uncomfortable?

Can there be a firm rule about the admissibility of private (or quasi-public) systems of video evidence, or should it depend on the . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology, ulc_ecomm_list

Canadian Bar Association 2015 Election Engagement Kit

With the federal elections coming up on October 19th, many organizations have been producing lists of priorities, demands and positions on issues relevant to them and canvassing the major political parties to respond.

The legal community is no exception.

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has produced an Election Engagement Kit that will “put equal access to justice on candidates’ radar and publicly call for enhanced federal leadership in this area”.

The Kit includes tips for members on how to:

  • Ask questions when candidates come knocking on your door.
  • Attend and raise these issues at all candidates’ meetings.
  • Contribute to the
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

It’s Complicated

Last week’s comment by English Supreme Court Justice Lord Sumption that it may take another 50 years to achieve a gender-balanced roster of judges in England brought the issue of gender equality to the front pages. Not content to raise a minor storm, Lord Sumption went on to urge patience:

We have got to be very careful not to do things at a speed which will make male candidates feel that the cards are stacked against them. If we do that we will find that male candidates don’t apply in the right numbers. 85 per cent of newly appointed judges

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

ABS in Ontario Killed by the Foul Stench of Protectionism

It would be really easy to read last week’s report from the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Working Group on Alternative Business Structures as thoughtful and considered.

Afterall, it has all the hallmarks of a judicial decision – using all the right words and heck, even using numbered paragraphs; no surprise given that Convocation is over-weighted with litigators, many of whom aspire to be judges themselves.

But if you scratch beneath the surface of the report, one quickly finds that all the judicial language in the world cannot hide what really happened in the LSUC Star Chamber amid the fine . . . [more]

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

Law as an Instrument of Change

When I was at law school, many years ago, Stephen Lewis visited as a speaker.

At the time he was Canadian ambassador to the UN. He flew up from New York for the afternoon.

There are two things I still remember about his talk.

The first is a humerous anecdote about his experience at law school. He told of how he went to the library to research an assignment and when, after some difficulty, he found the volume that contained the key case for the topic, the relevant pages had been torn out. This convinced him to quit law school, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Political Ideologies and the Legal Profession

If you haven’t noticed by now, there’s a Federal election going on. How and where to Canadian lawyers fit into this equation?

A new study in the Journal of Legal Analysis examines the political leanings of American lawyers by using the Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections (DIME) to track the financial contributions of lawyers to political campaigns. The contributions were then matched using an algorithm to lawyers listed in the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory. The result was a “CFscore” to identify the political leanings of the contributor, who could be identified based on their position the legal system. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Role of Libraries in Access to Justice Initiatives

Many local public libraries as well as law libraries are actively involved in access to justice initiatives.

In a recent post entitled Justice at your library? on the website of PLE Learning Exchange Ontario, Michele Leering, the Executive Director with the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre in Belleville, Ontario, writes about one such project, the Librarians & Justice partnership in southeastern Ontario.

She also provides a link to a page about PLE for librarians [PLE = public legal education]:

“Library staff in Ontario are ideally placed to serve as key intermediaries in distributing legal information and referrals to library

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

Update on the Case of the Quebec Bar Association Suspended Bencher

This is an update regarding the Quebec Bar Association’s controversial suspension of its recently elected bencher, Me Lu Chan Khuong (see our past blog posts here and here). To summarize, the bar association’s board of directors suspended Khuong after it went public that in 2014 she had been arrested on suspicion of shoplifting two pairs of jeans at a Simons store in Laval. Khuong sued the bar for $95,000 in damages and filed a safeguard order to be reinstated to her position as president of the bar.

Additional allegations surface

Now, the bar has countered with its own lawsuit . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

The Broad Arm of Environmental Responsibility

The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Chevron Corp. v. Yaiguaje concluded that a real and substantial connection to the Canadian court is not necessary to enforce a foreign judgement. This decision may be significant in signalling that Canadian courts will more willingly enforce the judgments of foreign courts.

The respondent plaintiffs in this case characterized the facts as follows:

This case is not about preventing potential damage. It is about paying for the remediation of massive environmental contamination.

The contamination in question involved the oil-rich Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. The plaintiffs, representing 30,000 indigenous Eduadorian villagers, filed suit in . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Fostering a Culture of Legal Literacy

I have had the good fortune of being involved in a number of groups and initiatives aimed at improving access to justice and reforming family law processes over the last several years – from pro bono advice clinics and rosters, to public legal information websites and Wikibooks, to the reconstruction of court rules and legislation – and have recently become plagued by the feeling we’re getting something wrong, that there’s something more fundamental at play I’m overlooking. Partly this stems from the observation in Meaningful Change for Family Justice: Beyond Wise Words (PDF) that despite the innovations and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

More Than Semantics

Are we actually making progress toward the outcome of increased access to justice?

Dan Lear doesn’t think so. As he noted in an ABA Legal Rebels blogpost this week, to date the evidence in the U.S. points to the ineffectiveness of access to justice initiatives. In his post Lawyers need to move beyond access to justice to close the “legal services” gap, Lear notes that this lack of progress is due in part to the fact that solutions are complex and challenging to implement.

He suggests that an important, though small step in the right direction would begin with . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Welcome the Flipped Lawyer

Time and tide wait for no man” (Geoffrey Chaucer). Or for no lawyer [male or female]. 

Change is afoot in the legal profession, and lawyers are trying to figure out how to react to it. But the legal industry isn’t the only profession facing change.

Jonathan Reese of Colorado State University-Pueblo recently wrote about changes in the education sector on The Kernel. He describes the introduction of MOOCs and flipped classrooms as a form of “professional suicide.” The premise behind both of these is the responsibility for learning shifts to the students, who watch video lectures on . . . [more]

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