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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Should the ICC Do Anything About CIA Torture?

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that, before December 2014, the United States tortured its detainees. However, when the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a 525-page excerpt of its findings on the US detainee program last week, there was still a genuine sense of shock about the extent of that torture.

There were some pretty damning details in the 525-page excerpt report, many of which were horrific and somewhat draconian methods used by the CIA in interrogating detainees. Among the most horrific details are:

  • The use of “rectal rehydration”, where detainees are forcibly rehydrated by inserting
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Of Senate Vacancies and Canada’s Constitutional Galahads

On Parliament Hill there stands a statue depicting one of King Arthur’s knights, Sir Galahad. It was erected in honour of a heroic young civil servant who perished in the Ottawa River while trying to save a cabinet minister’s daughter who had fallen through weak ice. The tragic hero was Henry Albert Harper, and the statue of Sir Galahad, King Arthur’s most virtuous knight, was meant as a testament to Harper’s selfless heroism.

Speaking of Harper and paladins of another kind, 2014 might well go down as a banner year. The recent batch of Galahads on Parliament Hill kind of . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous, Substantive Law: Legislation

When Lawyers May Not Be the Best Appointments to the Supreme Court

Jian Ghomeshi just hired a brilliant and fearless “shark” of a lawyer, Marie Henein, to defend him against criminal assault charges. There is a school of thought in legal ethics that maintains Henein is professionally obliged to play by the criminal defense playbook, right up to the point of transgression, and directly or indirectly enter the complainants’ sexual histories into evidence. If she can also get their medical records and the clinical notes of their therapists in, she must put all personal moral qualms aside and do everything within the confines of the law to get her client off. It’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Deferred Discomfort and the Problem of Justice Reform

Canadians do not have access to justice. Access to justice is of foundational importance to Canadian society; access to justice is essential to the social and economic wellbeing of civil society. The civil justice system is too complex, too slow and too expensive. It is too often incapable of producing just outcomes that are proportional to the problems brought to it or reflective of the needs of the people it is meant to serve. The system is in crisis. The reforms to date are inadequate; change of a fundamental nature is required. An overhaul of the current system is required. . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Listening to Voices From “Outside” on Access to Justice

As Julie Macfarlane noted here last week, it is imperative that those in the legal profession seeking to address issues in access to justice bring a variety of perspectives into the tent, including most importantly, the public whose needs are being addressed.

One of the highlights for me at last week’s Pitblado Lectures was hearing from a number of panelists who are not lawyers in response to the various access to justice-themed presentations delivered by an assortment of judges, academics and lawyers. These panelists’ views were insightful and refreshing and provided a much needed “reality check.”

Dr. Jane Ursel made . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Ontario Reintroduces Its Anti-SLAPP Bill

The Attorney General of Ontario today reintroduced the Protection of Public Participation Act, now Bill 52, which as Bill 83 in the last session of the Legislature completed second reading but died when the election was called. Here is the news release.

The bill – if passed – will provide a fast-track motion by which a court could decide if a case involving expression on a matter of public interest should continue. Cases (such as defamation actions) will be allowed to continue if there are grounds to believe that they have technical merit and if the harm caused . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law

Of Parent-Child Connections and Next-Gen Tools for Family Law Professionals

While the adversarial system has its strengths, few would argue that its impact is particularly positive in the lives of children after separation.

When I practiced a mix of civil and family litigation, a mentor of mine often said that “law is a substitute for warfare.” Bellicose terms like “A Litigators Arsenal” abound in the world of litigation, and comparison between legal and martial strategy and theory can get pretty deep (e.g. think Antonin Pribetic and his paper on strategic functionalism and Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, which preceded his award-winning blog, Trial Warrior). But . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Accessing Justice : Beyond Barriers

The annual Isaac Pitblado Lectures are coming up in a couple of days and will focus attention this year on issues in access to justice. The agenda is filled with thought-provoking and intelligent discussions led by some very smart people on how we move forward on these issues.

The Honourable Mr. Justice Thomas Cromwell will open the Lectures on Friday, speaking about the culture shift that is necessary if the legal profession is to get a handle on ensuring access to adjudication of disputes through the courts. He’s followed on the agenda by Professor Trevor Farrow talking about the decision . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Reality Disconnect: How Hierarchical Decision-Making Is Holding Back Progress on Access to Justice in Canada

In the 18 months since the Dialogue Event – a justice system stakeholder forum held at the Faculty of Law University of Windsor, bringing together members of the public (SRLs) and judges, lawyers and policymakers – I have spent a great deal of time talking with, exchanging ideas among, and generally tracking developments in a revitalized “Access to Justice Sector” emerging across Canada.

The A2J Sector: Who are We?

Members of what I am dubbing the A2J Sector include judges, regulators and leaders of the profession (for example in provincial Law Foundations and Law Societies), government lawyers and others working . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Diversity of Manitoba Society

Manitoba’s Provincial Court is advertising a position as a Provincial Court Judge based in Winnipeg. Some of the requirements for those seeking the position are:

  • practised for not less than five (5) years as a barrister and solicitor in Manitoba;
  • a member in good standing of The Law Society of Manitoba;
  • and be entitled to practise as a barrister and solicitor in Manitoba;
  • or have other equivalent experience.

The Judicial Nominating Committee’s mandate is to “assess the professional excellence, community awareness and personal suitability of candidates, while taking into account the diversity of Manitoba society (c. 275, The Provincial Court . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

How Law Libraries Can Help Self-Represented Litigants

This is a follow-up to a September 18, 2014 post on Slaw.ca entitled American Association of Law Libraries Report on Access to Justice that referred to a white paper about what U.S. law libraries are doing to assist self-represented litigants (SRLs).

The blog of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project funded by the University of Windsor Faculty of Law has a recent guest post on the role that Canadian law libraries can play to help SRLs.

It is written by Annette Demers, Acting Law Librarian, University of Windsor, Melanie Hodges Neufeld, Director of Legal Resources, Law Society of Saskatchewan, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

Canadian Lawyers Making a Difference in Cambodia

Cambodia is slowly recovering from the barbarism of the Khmer Rouge regime and the subsequent civil war that devastated the nation during the last quarter of the twentieth century. The current authoritarian government has been in power for nearly three decades. Basic constitutional freedoms of speech, the press and assembly are not fully guaranteed . Corruption is debilitating and rampant in the political, judicial and economic systems: Cambodia has the dubious distinction of being viewed by investors as Southeast Asia’s most corrupt country and the 17th most corrupt in the world. Politically motivated prosecutions and detention of political opponents, . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues