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Archive for December, 2008

U.S. Capital Punishment Stats

A sad but significant report from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics publishes the data concerning capital punishment in 2007 in that country. Some 17 tables of statistics explore such matters as the demographics of persons under sentence of death, the number of persons executed in the last decade, method of execution by state, and so forth.

As of the end of December 2007, the median elapsed time since sentencing for inmates under sentence of death is 133 months. That is a month longer than 11 years.

[via beSpacific] . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Substantive Law

Meat on the Bone : Comments on the Guidelines for Practicing Ethically With New Information Technologies

The Canadian Bar Association recently published Guidelines for Practicing Ethically with New Information Technologies (the “Guidelines”) as a supplement to its Code of Professional Conduct.

While the Guidelines provide a considerable amount of information concerning the use of technology in a legal practice (even referring to certain software in its annexes), some lawyers may find themselves at a loss as to how to actually implement the guidelines in their practice. This essay identifies certain aspects of the Guidelines that are worthy of additional commentary and refers readers to (mostly free) tools which will prove useful in following the Guidelines. . . . [more]

Posted in: Education & Training: CLE/PD, Legal Information: Information Management, Practice of Law, Practice of Law: Practice Management, Technology

Mandatory Reporting of Child Pornography in Ontario

The Ontario Legislature yesterday passed Bill 37, the Child Pornography Reporting Act, 2008.

The bill was somewhat amended in Committee, notably to tie the definition of child pornography more closely to the Criminal Code definition (though it’s still not identical). You can see the amendments here and the bill as amended in Committee here.

People who commented on the bill on the ULC-ECOMM list in the spring were sceptical of its benefits and of its practicality. No member of the Legislature shared any such doubts, apparently. All three parties supported the bill.

The penalty for not reporting child . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

2008 CLawBie Nominations Now Open

Just released over on the Clawbies website, I’ve posted about the 2008 Canadian Law Blog Awards which are once again set to be announced on New Year’s Eve. But more important, I’d like to highlight something about this year’s edition… our two new methods for blog nomination!

Rather than voting like the ABA, I wanted Canadian legal bloggers & blog readers to have a hand in the process. So we’ve added both a nomination by email process, and much more interesting, added a nomination by blog post option… with a twist! Please, go check out nomination method #2 . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

BC Legislation to Be Current and Free Online

Great news from BC, one of the last Canadian bastions of pay-per-view access to current legislation. The lobbying efforts of the Law Foundation and many other parties has paid off, and as of Jan. 1 2009 access will be available at

From the announcement, here are the features that will be offered:

bclaw-features (its a 2-page excerpt – scroll down to see more).


An email to me kindly points out that I mis-read the document… we will get current BC laws, but all the features listed are those of QPLegaleze, NOT the new service. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Canadian Human Rights Commission Submits Review to UN

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights created a mechanism in 2006 to review the state of human rights in member countries. Canada’s turn comes up in 2009. The first step in the process is a self-evaluation by the target country. Canada submitted its report in September, and has made the submission publicly available here.

I’ve had only a brief look so far, but the report looks very interesting. The first bit provides insight into what programs/legislation/processes are in place to create a society which meets the goals of the UN. The second part provides a . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous, Substantive Law

The Friday Fillip

What colour is that noise?

No, this isn’t about synesthesia, that cross-over effect in the senses where letters in the alphabet can have colours and sounds can smell — if you’re like Nabokov or Duke Ellington or Ludwig Wittgenstein. (Okay, okay: no one is like Ludwig Wittgenstein.)

It’s about noise, pure and not-so-simple, noise without tune or harmony but noise blended in just a certain way.

Let’s start with white noise. Most people have heard of white noise and may even have used it to block out other and distracting sounds. Turns out, though, that white noise . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Prorogue a ‘Very Dangerous’ Precedent

Prof. Errol Mendes of UofO has stated that PM Harper’s recent decision to prorogue government is not just a bad idea, but “very dangerous.”

Any time that the prime minister wants to evade the confidence of the House now he can use this precedent to do so…

This is certainly an unprecedented situation that we saw unfold. I hope that we won’t come to the brink of this type of effort to unseat a sitting government going against the democratic wishes of the people of Canada.

Mendes is the same person who contemplated seeking an injunction when the election was . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Privacy Commssioner Focuses on Protection of Personal Information in Accessible Tribunal Records

Yesterday, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada tabled her annual report on the Privacy Act. While she came down hard on a number of federal bodies such as the passport office, one aspect of the report should be of interest to lawyers generally.

The Commissioner reports on a whole range of complaints against tribunals and quasi-judicial bodies for publishing sensitive personal information about parties and non-parties. Decisions and tribunal records have always contained such information, but now that more of these decisions are readily available online, complainants are not happy that searching for their names online will bring up . . . [more]

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

LexUM/CanLII Release Reflex Hyperlinking Tool

CanLII announced this evening that, together with LexUM, it has released Reflex, “a tool allowing you to hyperlink your documentation with CanLII’s material.”

The simple notion is that, on the Reflex page, you upload a document (or a case name or single citation) from your machine and Reflex, recognizing case names, citations and legislation data, will edit that document by supplying citations (where necessary) and hyperlinks to the appropriate text. You can save the final result as an HTML document (which, of course, you can then convert to other formats as needed). Reflex accepts material in the following formats: . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Information Management, Legal Information: Publishing, Substantive Law: Judicial Decisions, Technology

Anti-Spam Bill Reintroduced in the Senate

Senator Goldstein has reintroduced his anti-spam bill in the Senate, as of last month. It is now Bill S-202. A similar bill (I have not compared them) was on the order paper before the last election. (It’s interesting that Senate bills die too when elections are called, considering that the Senate is not elected and the Senators all continue in office despite elections for the House of Commons. Yes, I understand the principle, but its application is not inevitable – though it is not going to change, either.)

You can read the Senator’s comments as he began second reading debate . . . [more]

Posted in: Administration of Slaw, Legal Information, Substantive Law, ulc_ecomm_list

NetLegal – Serving Documents 2.0 is the latest legal service company to cross my radar. This Canadian company (headquartered in Charlottetown with servers inside our borders) offers several services through their site surrounding the premise of connecting people and paper electronically. The main components of their platform of services include:

NetService – firms, lawyers, and judges can choose to upload files that can then be served BY CONSENT through another Netlegal member or by fax. The fax service to the courts uses the correct forms for all Canadian jurisdictions. Judges may also set up e-filing on a case making an order that parties file . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Practice of Law, Technology