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Archive for ‘Justice Issues’

DIY A2J 6: How to Share Your Public Writing While Retaining Authorial Control

Although its use is of questionable significance in the age of the internet, many of us mark our public writing, including our public legal education materials, with a copyright statement asserting an exclusive right to control the use and distribution of our work. This is a fairly normal thing to do, and almost universal among legal aid providers; after all, when you’ve sweat blood over something, you want to keep it for yourself and you don’t want to discover someone else claiming it as their own or using it for their own purposes.

I certainly felt that way and my . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Legal Information

Ghomeshi Controversy a Call to the Profession

I won’t comment much on the Ghomeshi verdict, other than to note that most of its detractors don’t appear to fully appreciate the nuance of the decision.

The animus exhibited by the complainants was mirrored by observers in the court room, and the crowd that gathered outside.

There was reason to be upset. Such incidents are rightly upsetting, but these feelings should not be directed towards the bench or the justice system.

The protections within our legal system, including our Charter rights, cannot be applied selectively, or withdrawn for individuals we don’t like, or we think are likely to . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Access to Justice — the Data Moment

Data — big, open — is having a well-deserved moment among access to justice advocates. While access to justice problems don’t fall into neat quadrants as they might in the technology and business worlds, there is much that can be learned from the use of data to address real needs in other sectors. With new tools to address access to justice challenges comes a key turning point in the application of data to solve complex social problems.

A recent post by Margaret Hagan of Open Law Lab explores the access to justice opportunities available from public data. The potential . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Making a List: Barriers to Access to Justice

After engaging this afternoon in a discussion about a number of issues related to ongoing access to justice, I continued thinking about the barriers that stand between ordinary people with legal problems and their effective access to justice. Many of the obstacles are obvious and have been extensively studied (for example, see the ongoing work of Dr. Julie MacFarlane on the experiences of self-representing litigants). But not all barriers to access to justice are readily apparent.

Initially, this was just going to be a mental list, formed as part of a conversation with myself (I engage in those entirely . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Limits on Lawyers’ Ability to Research Jurors?

One reads regularly of the problems courts have in restricting jurors from researching cases in front of them, so that they get only the evidence properly before them and the arguments subject to judicial control.

What of restrictions on lawyers who want to get out-of-court information about jurors, ideally in time to challenge them at the time of their selection, but also to tailor arguments and maybe even appeal results?

A US judge has recently asked for detailed submissions from Oracle and Google as part of their ongoing patent litigation, to say why they should be able to research jurors . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, ulc_ecomm_list

A Brief History of Choking

For possibly the first time since Confederation, choking is a hot topic in criminal law. During the Jian Ghomeshi trial, several news outlets ran pieces asking questions about this strange offence. Catherine Porter at the Toronto Star has called for a stronger strangulation law. Women’s groups are performing studies on strangulation and domestic violence, many demonstrating that strangulation is a strong predictor of partner homicide.

This is the offence:

Overcoming resistance to commission of offence.

246 Every one who, with intent to enable or assist himself or another person to commit an indictable offence,

(a) attempts, by any means,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Justice Issues

Judicial Review vs. Request for Reconsideration

Federal Court published a decision regarding the government’s policy when to reconsider or re-open an application. In his decision, Justice Phelan came down hard on the government’s inflexible guidelines as they lack “common sense and fairness”. This is a very significant decision for immigration practitioners and lawyers who make requests to Visa Officers or other government officials to have their matters reconsidered.

The facts of Lim v. Canada are relatively simple. The Applicant applied for Canadian citizenship, an Officer requested more information via letter but the letter was not received. The application was deemed abandoned and the file closed. When . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

DIT A2J 3: How Small Groups, Acting on Their Own, Can Make Meaningful Change

A little while ago, I gave a presentation to the National Judicial Institute‘s annual family law conference on the more important innovations in family justice introduced in British Columbia over the past decade, and in preparing my paper I realized something that struck me as terribly important. Of the nine or so changes with the biggest impact on family justice — which included things like the introduction of mandatory judicial case conferencing in 2002, the release of the report A New Justice System for Children and Families in 2005 and the introduction of Canada’s most progressive family law legislation . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Practice of Law

[Book Review] Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment

Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment. By Peter D. Burdon. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2015. xv, 171 pages. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN: 978-0-415-63317-8 (Hardback) $131.00.*

Almost every day we hear reports describing another environmental disaster or extreme weather event reminding us that the climate change alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. However, despite this awareness, we remain daunted by the seemingly impossible challenge of changing the course of a future fuelled by economic growth and our misguided view that the Earth, and everything on it, is here for human beings to develop and exploit.

This is . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues

Losing My Creed, or Lack Thereof

Diversity of faith in Canada did not start with the Charter.

The various First Nations who inhabited what is now Canada had a myriad of different spiritual traditions prior to European settlement. The Europeans who arrived were themselves of diverse backgrounds, including various denominations of Christianity.

Jewish immigration to Canada dates back to the 1700s, and Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus were present in Canada even in the 1800s. In the 21st century, our understanding of spiritual traditions and their role in a pluralistic democracy has expanded even further.

When Ontario’s Human Rights Code was introduced in 1961, it included . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues, Reading: Recommended

Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Policy Position on Gender-Specific Dress Codes

Written for First Reference by Christina Catenacci, BA, LLB, LLM, and PHD student at the University of Western Ontario

Can you think of a store, restaurant, or bar that appears to require women to wear low-cut tops, short skirts, tight dresses, or high heels when they go to work? Well, it might be wise for those employers to take another look at their dress code policy in light of the Ontario Human Rights Commission position on gender-specific dress code announced on International Women’s Day 2016 and the passing into law of occupational health and safety provisions protecting against workplace sexual . . . [more]

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

Fix One Issue, Create Another: The Elimination of “Conditional” PR Status

I recently met with a young Norwegian professional who wanted to know how to become a Canadian citizen. After I explained some of paths from temporary status (which he had, as a visitor) to permanent resident status to citizenship, he was visibly frustrated and said, “this is too complicated. I just want the form to become Canadian.” I had to admit that he’s right: the system is complicated. (And wouldn’t it be nice to have such a form?) Our former government made things more complicated by adding even more levels to our robust hierarchy of statuses. The most significant additions . . . [more]

Posted in: Justice Issues