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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

Some Ground Rules for a Constructive ABS Discussion

As is apparent from the OTLA, and the many comments on my previous post, the upcoming Bencher elections in Ontario finally have an issue that has grabbed the attention of lawyers across the province: Alternative Business Structures.

While this issue may drive better voter participation in the April election, it has also greatly divided the profession in this province.

One can already see the huge generational rift among lawyers; those at the twilight of their careers fighting to retain a 19th Century business model, while younger lawyers want to move the profession into the 21st Century so as . . . [more]

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

Is It Time to Legalize Pot? (And if So, How Do We Do It Right?)

National magazine will host a debate on the first question at the Mid-Winter meeting of CBA Council in February. A panel of experts will outline the pros and cons to set the stage for a lively discussion about an issue that is far more complex than it seems. Is criminalizing marijuana only serving to clog the court system? What about the health risks of “normalizing” marijuana use? And would legalization really push the drug trade to the fringes by handing regulation of sales, quality and advertising to the government?

But beyond these core questions – and aside from the fact . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

What If…

In 1998, after five years in private practice, I took a job in public legal education and was soon thereafter introduced to the problems many people have in accessing justice, whether in terms of working effectively with their lawyers, finding a lawyer, paying for a lawyer, or trying to address legal issues without the assistance of a lawyer.

Since that time, I’ve continued to work and volunteer in the non-profit legal sector, frequently with a focus on providing increased access to justice, at least for the lucky few. Next month I’m moving into an interim position directing a pro bono . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Feeding Our Research Needs

I’d like to use my last entry of 2014 to highlight a few worthy potential recipients of your charitable spirit. Depending where you live, and to whom you contribute, you may also still have a few hours left to earn a 2014 charitable tax credit or to see your donation doubled for the recipient.

If, like me and other old and not-so-old people, you continue to rely on good old email, you likely are still seeing a steady stream of last-minute 2014 donation appeals from one charity, non-profit, or political group or another.

A recent lesson in giving reminds . . . [more]

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

Anti-ABS Arguments Continue to Be Based on Emotion – Not Fact

I’m tired.

Tired of ABS fear-mongering.

Tired of disingenuous and protectionist arguments made by those who know very little about ABS – yet are fiercely opposed to it.

And tired of the misinformation being floated by ABS opponents.

Now I know what it was like in the McCarthy-era.

Lawyers (particularly trial lawyers) are trained to argue a position based on logic and evidence – not hyperbole and emotion.

OTLA’s recent pronouncements in the Law Times on December 29, 2014, are particularly troubling:

“We have studied ABS from the time it was first raised by the law society in the . . . [more]

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

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