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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

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

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