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Archive for ‘Substantive Law’

A Study of U.S. Supreme Court Oral Dissents

Available as of today on SSRN, “Dissents from the Bench: A Compilation of Oral Dissents Issued by U.S. Supreme Court Justices“, by Jill Duffy and Elizabeth Lambert, identifies 117 instances where justices of the the United States Supreme Court issued oral dissenting judgments. Duffy is a research librarian at the Court and Lambert is a staff attorney at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The authors examined all decisions from 1969 to the present day. Curiously perhaps, oral dissents are not officially recorded as a matter of course, and some were only . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

Ontario Private Member’s Bill Causes Concern

Last week I came across the news story on the News website: Libraries fight proposed Internet Blocking (June 10, 2009). It talks about a private member’s bill in Ontario that proposes the use of Internet filters to block pornographic websites from children, and how Ontario libraries are standing up against it. Considering the Bill has been sitting at First Reading since November 19, 2008, I tried to find out why it was making the local news once again. My research did not turn up satisfactory results. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

U.S. Searches of Laptops at Border Questioned

We’ve talked half a dozen times on Slaw about the United States Border Services’ practice of instituting suspicionless searches of travellers’ laptops, recommending basically that lawyers take nothing but a clean machine across the border.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union has made a formal request under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act for records setting out or touching upon policies establishing and governing this practice, as well as data as to the number of searches, the characteristics of persons whose devices were searched, and so forth. The official request adumbrates the ACLU argument that these searches may infringe the . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Nip and Tuck Wars Using Courts

Robert Cribb has a story this morning about the high-profile charges against some Canadian plastic surgeons.

But it also reveals that at least one of the initial complaints against Dr. Behnaz Yazdanfar of the Toronto Cosmetic Clinic were allegedly initiated by the fiancee of a competing surgeon,

Using the name Abby Nash, Hodgson allegedly posed as a patient “for the purpose of filing a spurious claim with the College of Physicians and Surgeons.”

…After her visit to Yazdanfar’s clinic, Hodgson filed a “slanderous” complaint with the college alleging that Yazdanfar “misrepresented her medical accreditation and medical training on the Cosmetic

. . . [more]
Posted in: Substantive Law

Trade-Mark Owners Can Prevent Their Marks From Being Registered as Usernames on Facebook

I’m borrowing (or plagiarizing) this piece from my partner Mark Edward Davis

On Tuesday, June 9, 2009, Facebook, an extremely popular social networking website based in the United States, announced that beginning Saturday, June 13th at 12:01 a.m. EDT, users of the Facebook website will be allowed to create personalized URLs for their Facebook pages in the format ( Currently, a Facebook user’s webpages are identified by an id number. While this change allows users to personalize their URL, it also creates the potential for Facebook users to misappropriate a trade-mark as their username ( To prevent the unauthorized . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law, Technology

Gender and Judging

Slate ran a story yesterday on what research says about how gender — or sex — influences judging, “In a ‘Different’ Voice” by Deborah Rhode. This interest was sparked, of course, by the fuss over Judge Sotomayor’s remark in a speech eight years ago about how a “wise Latina woman” might judge. If the effort is to see whether a judge’s nature affects how that person would decide certain issues, it’s surely wasted effort: you don’t have to be of the “what the judge had for breakfast” school to know that judges are not fungible automatons. But drawing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions

About Electronic Medical Records – Not What You Think!

The impetus for the upcoming project on electronic medical records, to be carried out by Professor Pina D’Agostino, in assocation with the Law Commission of Ontario, was not all the notoriety around consulting contracts at eHealth Ontario, but all the talk in the news and Ontario legislature about the agency has motivated me to talk about the medical e-records project. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Substantive Law

Canadian Lawyer Is Building Relationships

June’s issue of Canadian Lawyer just came out, with a great article by Glenn Kauth on using web tactics for client development.

There’s a few familiar faces (including yours truly), and some familiar platforms.

But what’s interesting about the piece is the rationale provided for why more big firms are not jumping into it. As a cost-effective strategy, some of these firms indicate that most of their clients are not heavily utilizing social media.

In my opinion, this misses the point slightly. Not only do bigger firms have the ability to produce more comprehensive and polished approaches to social media, . . . [more]

Posted in: Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Marketing, Substantive Law

Ontology, Law and the Semantic Web

Peg Duncan on Twitter points to an article on by an English academic, Adam Wyner, “Legal Ontologies Spin a Semantic Web.” (By the way, if you’re not following Peg on Twitter, you should be.) I was curious because of my interest in legal research and because of the the flirtation with the semantic web that Google Squared and Wolfram/Alpha seem to represent.

Obviously — to me, at least — if computers are going to be able to respond in a sophisticated, i.e. more helpful, way to our queries about law, there needs to be an agreed-upon set . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: Law Schools, Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Libraries & Research, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Legislation

More on Twitter in the Courtroom

Are you sick of us talking about Twitter yet? It seems the possibilities are only just starting to be explored. Lawyers Weekly reporter Luigi Benetton recently interviewed a few of us (including Michael Geist and Darryl Cruz of McCarthy Tétrault LLP in Toronto) for his article “Twitter in the courtroom: a fad, or here to stay?” (June 12, 2009 edition).

Some of the points discussed:

  • this area is evolving quickly
  • reporters “tweeting” from a trial is akin to reporters taking notes on behalf of the public
  • messages on Twitter (or “tweets”) may not adequately characterize the full shape
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

EFF Launches TOSBack

To follow on from Carol Lynn Schafer’s post, “Do TOS Have the Final Word on our Fundamental Rights and Freedoms?“, readers might like to know that the Electronic Frontier Foundation has launched TOSBAck, a site that tracks the terms of service of 44 significant websites and notes when changes occur. Of course, there’s an RSS feed, which might be the most sensible way to keep track of what’s happening on the site. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law