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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Pipeline to a Diverse Bench

Women lawyers, between 2006 and 2015, applied for superior court judicial appointments in Canada at roughly half the rate of men in the same time period, reports Cristin Schmitz in the September 16, 2016 issue of The Lawyers Weekly. In her article, Women Not Applying for Federal Benches, Schmitz reports the following previously unpublished statistics on who is seeking federal judicial appointments in Canada:

  • 1,531 women and 3,244 men applied between January 23, 2006 and October 19, 2015
  • 188 women and 396 men were appointed to federal courts during this same decade
  • Judicial advisory committees recommended 1,236 of the 3,003
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law: Future of Practice

Non-Expert Redesign of Justice

We often assume that reforms to the legal system should come from lawyers. After all, who knows and understands the system better than those who have studied and worked within it.

This past week I observed a process which fundamentally challenged that narrative. I served as a “Design Team Mentor” to the Winkler Institute’s Annual Justice Design Project. The program brought together a multidisciplinary team of undergraduate students who received a short primer on problems in the justice system.

The first day they heard about access to justice issues and how design thinking can be used to support . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

The Rise of the Polyamorous Family: New Research Has Implications for Family Law in Canada

On 20 June 2016, the Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family began a study on Canadian perceptions of polyamory, advertised with the assistance of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association, gathering preliminary data with a public survey. The information gathered thus far, from the 547 people who answered our survey, paints a fascinating picture of polyamorous individuals and their family arrangements, and has important implications for the future of family law in Canada.

The polyamorous families we are looking at are those created by three or more freely consenting adults, in distinction to faith-based, and usually patriarchal, forms . . . [more]

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

Of Taylor Swift, Referent Power, Jury Duty and Psychological Theories of Social Influence

I don’t know much about Taylor Swift (or TayTay/Swifty/Tayter Tot/T-Swizzle depending on fan-preference), but I take pride that most of what I do know comes from a delightfully small number of sources:

  • My six-year old daughter (more “stream of consciousness fan fiction” than literal news)
  • The Dover Police Department—this YouTube video in particular
  • The ingenious OpenDataTaylorSwift Twitter account (@ts_institute) — light on Taylor Swift data (Tay-lore?), true, but a truly great dig into the Open Data world… see!
. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues, Miscellaneous

Mediation Works: Should Mandatory Mediation Be Expanded?

The Canadian Research Institute for Law and the Family had the opportunity to survey the participants of the 2014 National Family Law Program in Whistler, BC, a popular and well-attended legal education program that attracts hundreds of judges and lawyers from across the country. Among other things, we asked lawyers how their files typically resolved and the results were astonishing.

Probably the most important conclusion to be drawn from the 176 responses to our survey was that less than a tenth of lawyers’ files are resolved at trial (9.3%). The lion’s share of our files are resolved through negotiation (40.7%) . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

Show Me the Pleading: Show Me the Evidence 

 

Currently finding pleadings, motion records, or factums filed with the courts online is nearly impossible. It is not only an issue of access to justice, it is an issue of accuracy.
Reading decisions without the filed materials is like being a detective with only half of a magnifying glass. You have the ultimate decision, but you don’t have the underlying pleading, motion record, or argument that the decision is based on. This is problematic. Judges and lawyers need to have access to the material filed to truly appreciate the case law before them. Most decisions turn on the facts, . . . [more]
Posted in: Case Comment, Justice Issues, Technology

Online Courts: Using Technology to Promote Access to Justice

Congratulations to Canada for its online Small Claims Court that will become mandatory next year. The Civil Resolution Tribunal (CRT) in British Columbia is slated to hear small claims cases online next spring. The jurisdictional threshold for “small claims” has yet to be established; however, the mandate is that it will eventually rise to approximately $20K USD. CRT adjudications will have the same effect as court orders and will provide the population inexpensive, fast, and easy access to justice for a range of civil disputes.

It is expected that CRT will divert 15,000 small claims cases from the courts each . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Technology, Technology: Internet

Judicial Vacancies Result in Denial of Justice

When the Supreme Court of Canada describes in R v. Jordan our justice system as “a culture of delay and complacency,” you know you have a problem.

Institutional delays in our courts have been a top priority now for some time, and are intricately connected to our constitutional rights.

The Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs began a study into the issue in February 2016. This weekend they announced their interim report at the CBA legal conference in Ottawa.

The report notes that the effect of these serious delays have resulted in the stay of serious criminal charges and . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Statutes of Limitations & Mrs. Trump

Politico published a story today on Mrs. Trump’s immigration history: “Gaps in Melania Trump’s Immigration Story Raise Questions.” The issue stems from Mrs. Trump’s status if/when she worked in the US during 1995 & 1996. It seems that she may have been working without authorization, a violation of immigration law (in Canada and the US), which would constitute “visa fraud” (in Canada, “misrepresentation”) and lead to an investigation. I am guessing that Mr. Trump is consulting his lawyers to see if Mrs. Trump’s US citizenship is at risk. It may be.

In her own words, Mrs. Trump described how she . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

Hassles: Transforming Court Services

When it comes to court services and legal services, there is a huge gap between what customers really want and what they settle for. Those gaps between what people really want and what they settle for represent opportunities for new products.

In Demand Adrian Slywotzky writes that each hassle (a needless step) is a problem and that answers to problems represent possible business ideas. As it currently stands, using court services requires overcoming many hassles. And, like the hassles associated with buying books in stores, the Internet has made many of the steps associated with using court services unnecessary. For . . . [more]

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

Excluding Lawyers From the ESA and LRA

There are over 85 complex exemptions and special rules to the Employment Standards Act, many of them decades old, and others dating back to 1944. The Act is a long and complicated one, adding significant operational expense to employers in implementation, and leaving many workers vulnerable given gaps in protection.

The original ESA was created in 1968, at which point it replaced a number of older statutes, including the Hours of Work and Vacations with Pay Act of 1944. The Act was amended many times over the years, but was only reviewed in 2000, with the new Act taking . . . [more]

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

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