Saturday, December 30, 2006

Supreme Court of Canada 2006 Year-End Review

Today's edition of The Globe and Mail provides an overview of the work of the Supreme Court of Canada for the year that just ended.

In his article entitled Dramatic drop in Supreme Court rulings fuels questions, journalist Kirk Makin writes that the number of judgments in 2006 was 59, a new low. The average over the past decade was in the range of 85 to 90 judgments per annum.

The numbers are said to have sparked a debate among court watchers over how Canada's top judges approach their work.
"Some argue that, if anything, judges today could be producing more decisions because computerized word processing has made it much easier for judges to prepare and circulate drafts, and each judge now has the aid of three law clerks — top-flight law graduates who take varying amounts of the load off a judge's shoulders".

"Other experts praise the decline, on the basis that by lopping the least important appeals from the bottom of its case list, the court is allowing itself to devote more time and thought to truly important cases".

(...)

"[Constitutional expert David Stratas] also speculated that the downward spiral could signal that the court is more actively debating, negotiating and seeking consensus wherever possible."
The article does in fact draw attention to this reality, pointing out that 43 of the 59 rulings were unanimous.
"However, others embrace the straight lines drawn by the unanimous rulings, since they tend to give lawyers and trial judges a genuine understanding of what each ruling stands for. With the notable exception of the court's 2005 Chaoulli health-care decision — where the court was so fractured that it might as well have not even rendered a decision at all — the McLachlin court has been remarkably consistent."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Law Blog Awards

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post Legal Blog Awards.

Steve Matthews, the creator of the Vancouver Law Librarian Blog, has come up with his inaugural edition of the CLawBies or Canada Law Blog Awards.

There are categories for Best Canadian Law Blog, Best Practitioner Support Blog, Legal Culture Award, Non-Legal Audience Award, Friend of the North Awards, EuroCan Connection Awards, Practice Management Award, Law Librarian Blog Award, Best Legal Technology Blog, Best New Law Blog Award, and Law Professor Blog Award.

I am mentioned.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:57 pm 1 comments links to this post

Friday, December 29, 2006

Legal Blog Awards

A number of sources have recently given out awards for blawgs in a number of categories.

They are:
  • The 2006 Blawggies: Dennis Kennedy's Best Law-related Blogging Awards: "The Blawggies are not based on any popular votes, surveys or scientific measures. They are highly-opinionated choices made by me, based on my experience, expertise and likes and dislikes gained from nearly four years of blogging and several more years before that of reading blogs. In general, I like to see blogs (1) consistently useful content, (2) a generous and helpful approach, and (3) a combination of commitment and talent, with an emphasis on good writing. In other words, I like blogs that compel me to read them on a regular basis."
  • Blawg Review Awards 2006: "It's a new tradition on the last Monday of each year for an anonymous editor to announce the Blawg Review Awards for the best law blogs in numerous categories. The list isn't exhaustive, and we apologize in advance for the many excellent legally-oriented blogs that deserve to be included in this year's awards presentation but were not, due to imperfections in the selection process. But those law blogs that have been given awards this year are certainly worth your attention. In many cases, they're obvious choices. But there are a few surprises."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Xmas / Joyeux Noël / Feliz Navidad...

And just to be on the safe side, legally speaking, here are the Season's Greetings from the Slaw.ca legal blog.

I'll be back Wednesday next week. Cheers.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Major Profile of Law Blogger Sabrina Pacifici

The LLRX.com site has reprinted the recent profile interview of Sabrina Pacifici in the journal Law Practice Magazine, a publication of the American Bar Association.

Pacifici is the well-known creator of LLRX.com and of the blog beSpacific.com, both major sources of legal information.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Five Years of Information Architecture

The feature article in the most recent issue of the British information industry newsletter FreePint is entitled 2001 to 2006: Five Years of Information Architecture.

It provides an interesting overview of what has remained the same and what has changed in the field of user-centered web design, navigation and labelling.

"The topics of the day [in 2001] were understanding your audience, site organisation, navigation and labelling. There were plenty of badly organised websites, so there was plenty of work to be done. There still is. Most companies have a more grown-up attitude to their websites, but that doesn't mean the crimes of executive-centred design and organising your site like your organisation have gone away."

"However, five years is a long time on the web. Some topics we consider staples in today's IA are startlingly absent from that early article: facets, content management, folksonomies and Web 2.0."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Google Zeitgeist for 2006

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post about the Top Searches of 2006.

Google has released its annual Zeitgeist based on the list of the most popular search terms people typed into the Google search engine.

Interestingly, many of the top web searches on Google are connected to the theme of user-generated content, such as blogs, social networking sites and podcasts. Then again, the top "news" search was for Paris Hilton.

Google also provides a Zeitgeist by Country page.

More from the Washington Post article A Search for Ourselves: User-Generated Content Dominates Google's 2006 Hot List.

And those wanting a more sceptical view of "why all those top search terms from the various search engines don't match" will find it worth reading SearchEngineLand's article entitled The Lies Of Top Search Terms Of The Year

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:39 am 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Top Searches of 2006

Search engine companies have been publishing their lists of "top searches" of 2006, an interesting way of getting in touch with the pop culture Zeitgeist.

The SearchEngineWatch blog reports the results for Yahoo!, AOL, Lycos and MSN Live.

No, people are not exactly looking for websites about Proust or Kurosawa. As expected, searches turn more towards the trashy (Britney Spears) and the paparazzi-flashers (Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan).

OK, I admit, it's a bummer. Someone in the US spent billions on IT research to make a meganetwork that could survive nuclear war, and all most people want to do is use all that technology to look at pictures of various parts of Paris Hilton's anatomy. But hey, as the saying goes, I don't make the news, I just report it.

Canadian results were different, as Yahoo! Canada reported in a press release titled Canada goes for wingers over singers published earlier in December:

"Canadians love hockey - it's a national obsession. The people, the excitement, the fantasy pools, the Stanley Cup, NHL related searches scored in the top ten search lists winter, spring and fall. In the US, hockey proved to be irrelevant. Britney Spears and mega stars garnered the most interest from Yahoo! users."

"In the summary of overall 2006 search results that Yahoo! Canada released today, patterns in Canada were different than in the U.S. Where conservative Canadians looked online for tax information, sports, weather updates, reality shows and techie trends, in the U.S. overall search was focused on celebrity gossip and entertainment."
The French version of Yahoo! Canada also reported its results.

Among the top 10 searches are such sexy topics as Sudoku, the Quebec government employment agency, the government automobile insurance agency, the post office, the tax agency, and Environment Canada (for weather reports).

Oh, and hockey.

2 celebrities did make into the francophone top 10: Céline Dion (unavoidable, you can't have a survey without "notre vedette nationale" figuring among the winners) and actress Lucie Laurier, star of the hit Canadian film Bon Cop, Bad Cop, who suffered a "wardrobe malfunction" or mini-Nipplegate during an interview on a Montreal music video station. For those who haven't seen the movie, it is the story of a stern Ontario Anglo detective who has to team up with a more unorthodox, wild Québécois cop to investigate the homicide of a hockey executive, whose corpse is found straddling the Quebec-Ontario border.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Judicial Appointment Changes Legal Story of the Year

The Canadian legal publication The Lawyers Weekly writes in its latest issue that the Conservative government's attempt to change the way federal judges are nominated is the big story of 2006.

In the article entitled Conservatives aim to replace judicial 'Charterphiles' with 'Charterphobes'?, journalist Cristin Schmitz writes:

"(T)he most remarkable legal story of the year is the new government’s swift and unilateral measures to shake up the way federal judges are appointed —changes which have sparked both praise and protests from the Bench and Bar as well as from the wider community."

(...)

"By November, without any prior consultation with the judiciary or organized Bar, Justice Minister Vic Toews stunned many with his announcement of contentious reforms to the judicial appointment process."

"Those changes are expected to be implemented as soon as this month with the unveiling of 128 appointments to 16 new judicial appointments advisory committees (JACs), which have been reorganized to add a new seat reserved for police representatives, and to give the government a freer hand in selecting judges. "

(...)

"That reforming the judicial appointment process ranked so high on Prime Minister Harper’s 'to-do' list during his government’s first year in office will not surprise those familiar with the oft-expressed antipathy of many Conservatives and their socially conservative supporters to Charter-based 'activism' on the Bench."

"In his 2002 book Friends of the Court: The Privileging of Interest Group Litigants in Canada, Harper’s present chief of staff, Ian Brodie, criticized the Court Challenges Program for unduly favouring feminist and gay-rights groups, and noted that Supreme Court decisions benefiting such groups offer the high court 'all the fun of making political decisions under the guise of interpreting constitutional law'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

New International Human Rights Search Engine

A new human rights topical search engine called HuriSearch was launched in early December as a joint project of FAST, a major enterprise search solutions company, and the Swiss-based HURIDOCS organization, which brings together monitoring and fact-finding practitioners, documentalists and librarians - to develop information management tools for human rights groups.

The search engine has indexed over 3,000 websites and offers an interface in 6 languages.

It is possible to drill down through search results by limiting by language, country, originating organization, by HURIDOCS index terms, or by type of collection (NGOs, academic institutions, national human rights organization or intergovernmental organization).

Earlier Library Boy posts about human rights tools include:
  • Computer Geeks Track Human Rights Abuses (February 14, 2006): "Wired News has printed some fascinating articles about the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) that builds computer databases and conducts statistical analysis on the data collected to build objective evidence of human rights abuses. HRDAG works with international human rights investigations."
  • Information Standards for Human Rights Violations Classification and Reporting (July 20, 2006): "HURIDOCS focuses on providing training for information and human rights workers who require techniques for the collection, organization and classification, preservation, and management of human rights abuse information.Tools include training materials for indexing and thesaurus building, standardized formats for the exchange of bibliographic information and metadata about human rights, proposed methodologies for monitoring and reporting abuses (standard ways of describing events, victims, acts, identities of perpetrators), etc."
  • Tools to Monitor Human Rights (July 25, 2006): "Human Rights Tools was set up by former workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (...) The site is aimed at professionals monitoring human rights and offers resources and training manuals for investigating political, social and humanitarian conditions in countries, documenting the human rights situation, using international law, planning, finding jobs and training opportunities in the human rights field..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Year in Canadian Tech Law from A to Z

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist has compiled his 2006 year end review of major events in Canadian tech law:

"This past year in law and technology has been marked by a series of noteworthy developments including the explosive interest in user-generated content, the emergence of several artists-backed copyright coalitions, and the arrival of Industry Minister Maxime Bernier, who has focused on reshaping Canadian telecommunications regulations. From A to Z, it has been a remarkably busy twelve months."
The column also appeared today in the pages of the Toronto Star daily newspaper.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Podcasting Basics Bibliography

The Legislative Reference Bureau of the Wisconsin State Legislature has produced a series of topical guides called Tap the Power.

The most recent Tap the Power guide is about Podcasting Basics:
"Podcasting is a means of distributing informational content in audio form over the Internet. A version of this bibliography was originally prepared for the October 18-21, 2006, professional development seminar of the Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section, National Conference of State Legislatures."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Open Access Changing How We Think About Legal Scholarship

Carol A. Parker, the Law Library Director at the University of New Mexico School of Law, has written "Institutional Repositories and the Principle of Open Access: Changing the Way We Think About Legal Scholarship". The article appears in a forthcoming issue of the New Mexico Law Review but also free of charge on the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and on bePress.

From the abstract:
"Open access to scholarship, that is, making scholarship freely available to the public via the Internet without subscription or access fees, is a natural fit for legal scholarship given our tradition of making government and legal information available to citizens, and the many benefits that flow from freely disseminating information for its own sake. Law schools, journals and scholars should espouse the principle of open access to legal scholarship, not only for the public good, but also for the enhanced visibility it provides journals and authors. Open access can be accomplished by archiving digital works in online institutional repositories. Legal scholars have enjoyed the benefits of open access to working paper repositories such as SSRN for more than ten years - even if they have not thought of this practice as 'open access.' It is a natural progression for legal scholars to now self-archive published works as well, and they are beginning to do so as awareness grows of the benefits of providing open access to published legal scholarship. Institutional repositories provide new ways to publish student scholarship, empirical data, teaching materials, and original historical documents uncovered during the research process. Author self-archiving does not threaten the existence of law school-subsidized journals, and institutional repositories generate new audiences for legal scholarship, including international and multidisciplinary audiences. Not insignificantly, repositories also help preserve digital work. Law schools are discovering that the publicity and download counts generated by repositories provide new ways to measure scholarly impact and reputation."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Time Magazine's Person of the Year: Me!

Or rather: YOU! And everyone else who blogs, collaborates online, and wonders what this whole Web 2.0 thing is about.

"But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It's about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people's network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Canadian Judicial Council Statement on Self-Represented Litigants

Last week, the Canadian Judicial Council issued a Statement of Principles on Self-represented Litigants and Accused Persons.

In presenting the statement, the Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada and Chairperson of the Council, said:

"The Council views the increasing numbers of self-represented persons who appear in the court system as a serious matter. These principles will assist key participants in the justice system to ensure that self-represented persons are provided with fair access and equal treatment in the courts."
Self-represented litigants are often unaware of the workings of the justice system and can feel overwhelmed by all the rules of procedure.

The set of principles proposed by the Council should guide judges, court administrators, members of the Bar, legal aid organizations in assisting self-represented ligitants understand how the justice system works.

In particular, self-represented parties should be:
  • Informed of the potential consequences and responsibilities of proceeding without a lawyer;
  • Referred to available sources of representation, including those available from Legal Aid, pro bono assistance and community and other services;
  • Referred to other appropriate sources of information, education, advice and assistance.
As well, self-represented persons should not be denied relief on the basis of a minor or easily rectified deficiency in their case.

The Canadian Judicial Council is composed of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada's superior courts.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ontario Whistleblower Protection Legislation

Earlier this week, the Ontario legislature passed the Public Service of Ontario Statute Law Amendment Act, 2006.

Among other things, the legislation, that should receive royal assent as soon as next week, establishes a process by which public servants may disclose wrongdoing in the public service of Ontario and be protected from reprisals.

According to a CBC Online news report: "Whistleblower protection is already in place for provincial employees in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan."

Earlier Library Boy posts about public sector ethics and whistleblowing include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 15, 2006

Leading Technology Trends for 2006 and Beyond

Law Practice Today, a publication of the American Bar Association, has published a December 2006 Roundtable: Leading Technology Trends for 2006 and Beyond.

Simon Chester, law partner in the Toronto office of Heenan Blaikie LLP and contributor to the Canadian collaborative blawg Slaw.ca, is one of the participants.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Search Tool For Legal Podcasts and Vidcasts

Blawgs.fm is a tool that searches for podcasts and vidcasts included in the collection of BlawgSearch.com. BlawgSearch.com, a product of the legal marketing firm Justia, indexes the contents of 1,000 blawgs.

The site also offers a directory of legal podcasts and vidcasts, divided by subject and region.

There is additional information about blawg search tools in my November 22, 2006 post about Blawg-Finding Tools.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Customized Search For French Legal Material

This is a follow-up to the November 16, 2006 post entitled Customized Search for Intergovernmental Organizations.

More and more libraries and individuals have been using tools such as Google Coop to build customized topical collections of searchable online material.

The French blawg Doc en Vrac has a recent item about a number of searchable collections, including French-language blogs and legal material from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:10 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Newspaper Series on Threats to Montreal Crown Prosecutors

The Montreal daily La Presse has a series of articles today about the security (or lack of security) for Crown prosecutors in Montreal and elsewhere in the province of Quebec.

The intimidation tactics include being photographed inside the Courthouse by criminal gang members and their supporters, being followed in parking lots, and bomb threats.

See:
  • Bureaux non sécuritaires (Unsafe offices): "Le responsable de la sécurité des procureurs au ministère de la Justice, Me Sabin Ouellet, reconnaît le problème. «Bien oui, c'est l'enfer», lâche-t-il. C'est pourquoi il conçoit présentement un plan de bureau sécuritaire qui servira de modèle pour tous les bureaux de procureurs au Québec." [The head of security for Crown prosecutors at the Ministry of Justice, Sabin Ouellet, recognizes the problem. 'Yeah, it's hell,' he says. That's why he is currently devising a plan for a secure office that will serve as a model for all prosecutor offices in Quebec]
  • Des détecteurs de métal au palais de justice (Metal detectors at the Palais de Justice): "En attendant, les procureurs de la Couronne s'inquiètent. L'alerte à la bombe du 20 octobre a créé une «commotion» parmi eux, selon la procureur chef du palais de Montréal, Marie Andrée Trudeau. L'Association des substituts du procureur général du Québec a aussi reçu plusieurs courriels de réactions parfois très émotives. «Ce qui m'écoeure là-dedans, c'est que nos patrons attendent comme des moutons que quelqu'un se fasse descendre pour épargner des pinottes», écrivait ainsi l'un des 420 membres." [In the meantime, Crown prosecutors are getting worried. The October 20 bomb alert really shook them up, according to Chief Prosecutor Marie Andrée Trudeau. The prosecutors' association has also received many very emotional e-mail messages in reaction to events. 'What really makes me sick in all of this is that our bosses are waiting like a bunch of sheep for someone to get gunned down in order to save a few bucks,' wrote one of the 420 members]
  • Des procureurs de la Couronne menacés (Crown prosecutors threatened): "Depuis peu, des membres de gangs de rue ne se gênent pas pour photographier avec leur téléphone cellulaire des procureurs de la Couronne à l'intérieur même de certains palais de justice du Québec. Cela a commencé au tribunal de la jeunesse. La pratique s'est ensuite étendue au palais de justice de Montréal, où elle a suscité les premières plaintes cette année. Et ce n'est qu'un exemple parmi d'autres de gestes d'intimidation faits par des gangs ou leurs proches dont les procureurs se sont plaints récemment, selon des informations obtenues par La Presse." [Recently, street gang members have not hesitated to photograph Crown prosecutors with their cell phones even inside certain courthouses in Quebec. It started in youth court. The practice then spread to the Montreal Courthouse where it sparked the first complaints this year. It is just one example among many of acts of intimidation by gangs or their family members... according to information obtained by La Presse.]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Recent Legislative Summaries from the Library of Parliament

2 new legislative summaries have been published recently by the research service of Canada's Library of Parliament. They are:
  • Bill C-26: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate): "Bill C-26 amends section 347 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which criminalizes the charging of usurious interest rates. The expanding presence of payday loan companies suggests that some Canadians are willing to pay rates of interest in excess of those permitted under the Criminal Code for their payday loans. Bill C-26 is designed to exempt payday loans from criminal sanctions in order to facilitate provincial regulation of the industry. Thus, the exemption applies to payday loan companies licensed by any province that has legislative measures in place designed to protect consumers and limit the overall cost of the loans."
  • Bill C-30: Canada's Clean Air Act: "Air pollutants associated with smog (ozone and particulate matter as well as substances that can form ozone) had been placed on Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) in order to give the government the powers to use regulations and other instruments available under CEPA 1999 to control them. Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 contains the list of substances defined as 'toxic' under section 64 of the Act. During the 38th Parliament, the government had also placed GHGs [greenhouse gase] on Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999 in order, most significantly, to move toward the use of certain portions of the Act to allow it to regulate and create an emissions trading scheme for GHG emissions from Large Final Emitters (significant industrial emitters of GHGs). This was done in order to help Canada meet its Kyoto Protocol obligations to reduce GHG emissions to, on average, 6% below 1990 levels during the period between 2008 and 2012. During the 39th Parliament, however, the government repudiated the Kyoto targets, stating that Canada could not meet them. Bill C-30 seeks to reduce the risks associated with air pollutants and greenhouse gases. Most notably, the bill removes substances associated with smog, smog precursors and greenhouse gases from the List of Toxic Substances, Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, and places them in the list of definitions in the Act as 'air pollutants' and 'greenhouse gases' respectively. It leaves mercury on Schedule 1 while also defining it as an 'air pollutant.' The bill then creates a new Part 5.1, 'Clean Air,' which addresses air pollutants and greenhouse gases separately from Part 5, which addresses toxic substances."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Arar Commission Recommends New RCMP Oversight Agency

Commissioner Dennis O’Connor today released his second report of his commission of inquiry [press release] into the events surrounding the deportation in 2002 of Canadian engineer Maher Arar to his native country Syria, where he was tortured for a year before being returned to Canada. The full report is available on the Commission website.

The deportation in 2002 was at the hands of U.S. authorities who relied on faulty information from Canada that Arar was suspected of terrorism.

O'Connor recommends creating an Independent Complaints and National Security Review Agency for the RCMP with jurisdiction to review all of the RCMP's activities, including those related to national security.

He also also recommends that independent review procedures be established for other agencies involved in national security activities - Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Transport Canada, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (which tracks money laundering and terrorist financing), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian Border Security Agency.

The CBC has more on the 2nd O'Connor report.

In a parallel development, Stockwell Day, federal Public Safety Minister, announced today that the government would conduct a similar official inquiry into the cases of three other Canadian citizens who claim they were detained and tortured by Syrian secret police in 2001 and 2004. The CBC has details about this new inquiry to be conducted by former Supreme Court justice Frank Iacobucci.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the Maher Arar affair include:
  • Arar Commission Report Presented to Parliament (September 18, 2006): "Arar is considered a high profile victim of the U.S. policy called extraordinary rendition under which terrorism suspects are secretly sent to dictatorships where they can be interrogated under torture beyond the reach of any human rights laws or judicial protections. Commissioner Dennis O’Connor concluded that there is no evidence Arar was ever connected to terrorism or was ever a security threat to Canada."
  • RCMP Reaction to Arar Commission Report (September 28, 2006): "Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli apologized today to Maher Arar and said he accepts all the recommendations of a report criticizing the federal police force's role in Arar's deportation to Syria."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2006

"Truthiness", a term coined by the American satirical TV show The Colbert Report, has been chosen as the word of the year by dictionary maker Merriam-Webster. Truthiness is defined as "truth that comes from the gut, not books", or "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true". It was the American Dialect Society word of the year in 2005.

Among the other words of the year are: war, insurgent, terrorism, vendetta, sectarian, quagmire and corruption. It was a very happy year. More from CBC Online.

And Oxford University Press will make Al Gore very happy. Its selection for the 2006 Word of the Year is carbon neutral.

Related Library Boy posts about words include:
  • "Podcast" Named Word of the Year, "Blog" Chosen as Word to be Banished (December 12, 2005): "The Oxford American Dictionary has selected podcast as their word of the year. Among the runner-ups were: bird flu, IDP (internally displaced person), IED (a kind of bomb), persistent vegetative state, rootkit, and sudoku."
  • Banished Words List 2006 (January 2, 2006): "Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie (Michigan) is continuing its tradition of compiling an annual Banished Words List, or 'List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness' first launched in 1976'."
  • American Dialect Society Words of the Year 2005: Legal Expressions 'Patent Troll', 'Extraordinary Rendition' Make List (January 11, 2006): "A few other law-related terms scored highly in the 'most euphemistic' category (hmmmm, I wonder why): 'internal nutrition: force-feeding a prisoner against his or her will' and 'extraordinary rendition: the surrendering of a suspect or detainee to another jurisdiction, especially overseas' (in order to be tortured by a friendly dictatorship with less regard for the niceties of courts and a legal defense)."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 11, 2006

Launch of the Asian Legal Information Institute

I picked this up on the French juriblog ServiceDoc Info.

The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) has just launched AsianLII, the newest member in the growing international family of free non-profit legal information portals.

AsianLII contains databases of legislation, case-law, law reform reports, law journals and other legal information from 27 Asian countries.

AsianLII now contains primarily English language databases, plus some Indonesian databases in the language Bahasa which uses the Latin alphabet. The AustLII Sino search engine is being developed to search other languages and AsianLII will progressively include searchable databases in various Asian national tongues.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Anniversary of the Statute of Westminster

Slaw.ca mentions that today is the 75th anniversary of the Statute of Westminster, one of the most important documents in Canada's constitutional history.

I had posted about this last year on Library Boy:

In 1926, the Balfour resolution was adopted at an Imperial Conference. According to that resolution, Great Britain recognized that the Dominions were autonomous communities within the British Empire, "equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations".

There still remained the matter of who was allowed to amend the Canadian constitution, which was after all a piece of British legislation. A Dominion-Provincial conference in 1927 considered this issue but the provinces rejected the proposals of the federal government. There was thus no consensus on how to bring back or patriate the Constitution from the UK. The paralysis lasted another 55 years.

In other words, the Statute of Westminster granted independence to Canada except in relation to the amendment of the constitution. As we all know, the patriation of the Constitution happened in 1982, but without the Quebec government signing on to it.
All together now: Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you...

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Screencasting To Create Online Library Tutorials

This is a follow-up to the October 29, 2006 Library Boy post entitled Free Online Seminar on Screencasting.

On her Information Wants To Be Free blog, Meredith Farkas posted thoughts about screencasting, a technique that allows people to easily create online Flash tutorials:

"What’s so cool about it is the fact that instead of reading a list of instructions on how to use a database or some other tool, a screencast concretely shows the librarian going into the database and executing searches (...) Screencasts are all about video, but often also include audio, captions and even interactive components. You can show a user how to do a search and then have them execute a similar search before the screencast will advance (...) "

"I was blown away by how easy it was to create a Flash movie of your desktop with very little in the way of tech-savvy. You can make a very basic screencast — that you film and narrate simultaneously — in 20 minutes. Or you can spend an entire day or more developing a really polished screencast tutorial. Other than the time invested, screencasts are pretty easy to create."

At the Supreme Court of Canada Library, we have been experimenting with Viewlet technology and have already created a few test tutorials on how to find up-to-date Canadian legislation and Canadian caselaw on a topic and how to note up Canadian cases in various databases such as Quicklaw, WestlaweCarswell, AZIMUT (SOQUIJ) and REJB/DCL (Barreau du Québec/Éditions Yvon Blais).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:31 pm 0 comments links to this post

Lawyers and Wine

I come from a family with many lawyers and wine is the beverage that accompanies meals.

As blawg.com explains, some lawyers and law professors have been taking to the web and to blawgs to discuss the combination of law and wine.

"Professor Stephen Bainbridge, a UCLA law professor, regularly highlights his love of wine in his blog Professor Bainbridge on Wine. His commentary is great."
A little over a month ago, the Canadian collaborative law blog Slaw.ca published a post entitled The Law of Wine that covered some of the same territory.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 07, 2006

International Labour Organization Resources on Termination of Employment

The IWS Documented News Service weblog, run by the Institute for Workplace Studies at Cornell University, has a recent post about the International Labour Organization's comparative tables on termination of employment legislation:

"These tables are intended to set out basic information relating to termination of employment in a way that is easily readable and assists basic comparative analysis. For reasons of space, some of the entries in the tables will be generalizations; if a fuller picture is required the national summaries for each country and the relevant national legislation should be consulted."
There are tables on:

  • national statutory unfair and unjustified dismissal schemes
  • statutory notice requirements
  • specially protected situations in relation to dismissal, including that of trade union representatives, women on maternity leave and other specially protected workers
  • statutory requirements for collective dismissals
Earlier Library Boy posts that describe International Labour Organization resources include:
  • Labour Law and Industrial Relations Resources (October 20, 2005): "Other related material mentioned recently on Resourceshelf: the Working Time Database from the International Labour Organization. It is 'a searchable database providing information on the working time laws of more than 100 countries around the world. It covers laws that protect the heath and well-being of workers; facilitate a balance between work and family life; ensure workers have adequate time to devote to their other responsibilities and interests; and prevent discrimination against part-time workers'."
  • International Labour Organization Databases (June 29, 2006): "The [ResourceShelf] review contains descriptions of databases with information from around the world on labour laws, labour standards, union rights, health and safety regulations, substance abuse in the workplace, training, migration, child labour and other issues."
  • Labour Day Resources (September 4, 2006): "NATLEX is the database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation maintained by the International Labour Organization (ILO). There are some 55,000 records covering over 170 countries and territories. The ILO also maintains a trade union freedom cases database. There are 3 active cases based on complaints from Canadian trade unions. "
  • RSS Feeds from United Nations Agencies (November 22, 2006): "UN Pulse, a blog created by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York, has compiled a list of RSS feeds from various UN bodies and specialized agencies.There are feeds from a wide variety of sources: (...) International Labour Organization... "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Online Exhibit: Fakes, Forgeries and Trickery

Library and Archives Canada has an online exhibit called Detecting the Truth - Fakes, Forgeries and Trickery that examines the history of forged documents, maps and paintings:

"This website will let you discover why and how people have changed documents, paintings, maps, books, stamps and money throughout history. It will also show you the techniques and tools that experts such as conservators, archivists and librarians at the Library and Archives of Canada use to spot a fake. Let the sleuthing begin!"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ontario Creates Law Reform Commission

Last week, the Government of Ontario established a new Law Commission of Ontario. Its predecessor, known as the Ontario Law Reform Commission, had been abolished in 1995 by the previous provincial Conservative government.

Much of the funding will be provided by partners outside of government so that the institution is less vulnerable to political change or interference.

Partners include Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, the deans of Ontario's law schools, the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Society of Upper Canada, and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

In late September, the federal Conservative government eliminated all of its funding for the Law Commission of Canada, which has announced that it will be shutting down operations this month.
In a December 1, 2006 editorial, Investing in Justice, the Toronto Star wrote:

"So why, after 10 years, does Ontario need such a body? Because governments should not have 'a monopoly over assessing and reforming the justice system,' as [Attorney General] Bryant points out. A provincial commission is desirable because the provinces are responsible for the administration of justice. This will give scholars, judges, lawyers and others an independent forum in which to examine sensitive social policy issues that governments may not want to tackle. By insulating it from political meddling, Bryant has ensured that the commission can feel free to give the justice system impartial scrutiny, and push legal frontiers, on behalf of all of us."

The Globe and Mail, in an article entitled Ontario unveils law-reform commission, explained:

"Historically, law commissions have delved into issues such as improving rules of evidence, simplifying criminal offences and considering reforms in contentious areas such as abortion or environmental prosecutions (...) Ontario's new law commission will recommend ways to improve the administration of justice, devise practical solutions to legal problems and explore new legal terrain. [Bryant] said that law commissions play a vital role because they have the freedom to consider issues which governments either lack the time to study or which are considered too politically risky."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015

Vincent Flanders, author of Web Pages That Suck, has just written a post called Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015 on his website called - what else? - webpagesthatsuck.com:

"I’ve gathered what I think are the biggest web design mistakes committed during the period 1995 to 2015. Yes it is a little facetious to say these mistakes will be made in the year 2015, but it’s human nature to repeat your mistakes over and over. But it’s human nature to repeat your mistakes over and over. "

(...)

"Some mistakes I’ll discuss aren’t actually design mistakes in the classical sense — ugly graphics, bad navigation, etc. — but serious big picture problems like our Number One Mistake: 1. Believing people care about you and your web site. "

A very humbling (and funny) read.

Earlier Library Boy posts about web design include:
  • Law Firm Marketing - 10 Things to Help Your Website Not Stink (April 26, 2005): "For those of you lawyers and firms with websites, (...) I’m going to make a broad, sweeping generalization – they stink. I know you’d like to think I’m talking about everybody’s site except yours, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that yours does, too(...) I don’t mean to be rude, I mean to be honest. So... with apologies to the delicate sensibilities of all the lawyers in the audience, here are the '10 Things to Help Your Site Not... Stink'."
  • Best Law Firm Websites (July 20, 2005): "The Internet Marketing Attorney has written a review of the websites of the 250 largest US law firms and also looked at 25 international (non-U.S.) law firm websites."
  • New from Law Library Journal (August 11, 2005): " I thought I would point out a few articles in the most recent issue of ... Law Library Journal: 'Visual Literacy and the Design of Legal Web Sites' explains the principles of visual literacy and how they apply to building and improving websites, evaluates several well-known sites and suggests ways to avoid common design flaws. "
  • Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005 (October 6, 2005): "Well-known usability specialist Jakob Nielsen asked the readers of his Alertbox newsletter to nominate the usability problems that irked them most."
  • Discussion of the Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2005 (October 23, 2005): "[Nielsen's] article sparked a discussion on Web4Lib, the discussion list on issues relating to the creation, management, and support of library-based World-Wide Web servers, services, and applications. In other words, it's where some of the geekier members of the LIS world stop to chat. You need to scroll down to '[Web4lib] Nielsen's Top 10 - 2005 version'."
  • Webby Awards 2006 (May 11, 2006): "In the law category, the Webby went to Justice Learning, an educational site aimed at U.S. high school students that was created by the New York Times Learning Network, National Public Radio and the Annenberg Foundation. There was also a separate 'People's Voice Winner': the legal news site JURIST at the University of Pittsburgh."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:07 pm 3 comments links to this post

Halsbury's Laws of Canada Series Arrives

LexisNexis Canada has started publishing Halsbury's Laws of Canada, which will be a multi-volume encyclopedic treatment of Canadian law (some 57 volumes). The first 3 print volumes are now for sale:

I had mentioned this publishing project briefly in my Library Boy post of May 2, 2006 entitled New Quicklaw Interface.

Slaw.ca contributor Connie Crosby has more on the subject, including details from a phone conversation she had with a VP from LexisNexis Canada who explained that each print title will correspond to a new release of an online collection in Quicklaw that will contain "topical summaries, case law, legislation, treatise material, current awareness including 'hot cases' and the encyclopedic content of the Halsbury's Laws of Canada".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Library Titles from the Supreme Court of Canada

The most recent edition (November 16th to 30th, 2006) of the New Titles List from the Library of the Supreme Court of Canada is available online.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loans to authorized libraries.

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Articles on Scientific Evidence in Newest Issue of Judicature

The most recent volume of Judicature, the journal of the American Judicature Society, proposes a series of articles on how courts should deal with issues relating to scientific evidence:

Earlier Library Boy posts on the issues of science and the law include:

  • Allan Legere Digital Archive - 1st Serial Killer Convicted by DNA Typing (April 24, 2006): "The Gerard V. La Forest Law Library at the University of New Brunswick yesterday launched a digital archive of documents and images related to the crimes, capture and trial of Allan Joseph Legere (...)His trial in 1991 was the first in which the new science of DNA typing was used to obtain a criminal conviction in Canada and was therefore a landmark in Canadian legal history"
  • Science and Law Resources (August 21, 2006): "Last week, the Science & Law Blog was launched. In the introductory post, the authors, all law professors, explained that their blog is devoted to 'the single question of how does, and how should, courts and policy makers use the more or less certain findings (or lack of findings) from science when making decisions'."
  • Update on Science and Law Resources (August 26, 2006): "A recent article from LLRX.com - It’s Not Rocket Science: Making Sense of Scientific Evidence - explains how common web search engines as well as specialized engines that explore the 'Deep Web' can be used to find material on the reliability of scientific evidence in the legal context."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Upcoming SirsiDynix Seminars

Library vendor SirsiDynix has listed its upcoming free online seminars with information industry leaders.

The next one is on December 13 and features Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The Project has issued more than 80 reports based on surveys on the social impact of Internet technologies and important public policy questions such privacy online, e-government, intellectual property, broadband adoption, and the digital divide.

Past presentations are available free of charge from the SirsiDynix Institute Web Seminar Archive. The archive goes back to Feb. 2003.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 04, 2006

If U.S. Supreme Court Justices Were Rock Stars

The Out of the Jungle blog mentioned this yesterday.

The Balkinization blog has a post entitled If Supreme Court Justices Were Rock Stars that matches judges with the musicians who have the same basic "style" in their opinion writing:
  • Sandra Day O'Connor-- Britney Spears. (The early Britney, pre-K-Fed, not the later, trashy Britney.) Artistically incoherent but enormously successful attempts to appeal to the exact center of popular taste.
  • William Rehnquist-- David Byrne of Talking Heads, Blondie, Devo. Unsentimental, terse, and cleverly ironic 80's New Wave post-punk. (Psycho-Killer could easily be a Rehnquist opinion except, of course, for the use of French. No foreign sources in our Constitution, thank you.).
  • Anthony Kennedy-- Lionel Richie, Barry Manilow. Overly earnest ballads that set your teeth on edge.
  • Clarence Thomas-- Prince, Lou Reed. Key aesthetic ideal: I don't give a **** what *you* think. The Justice Formerly Known as Clarence.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsberg-- Alanis Morissette. A Jagged Little Constitution.
  • Antonin Scalia-- Meat Loaf. Histrionic Opera Rock.
  • David Souter-- Paul Simon. Bookish, a little too insular and self-contained. Still crazy after all these years.
  • John Paul Stevens-- Willie Nelson. Crusty, independent, been around forever. (But what about his vote in the marijuana case?)
  • Stephen Breyer-- Nobody. Stephen Breyer doesn't rock and roll
I wonder who we could up with for the Canadian Supreme Court.

Somebody else out there can go first with their suggestions...

There is one judge who reminds me of Eric Clapton, but I won't say who...

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Citation Analysis Pioneer Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Eugene Garfield, who invented citation analysis in the field of library science some 50 years ago, was awarded the Online Information Lifetime Achievement Award last week in London, England.

The concepts behind citation analysis have played a major intellectual influence on link analysis, the core of Google's method of indexing websites.

Back in May 2004, the ResourceShelf website presented a series of links to interviews with Dr. Garfield, to a website containing his many scholarly and technical publications, as well as to a paper by a group at IBM that preceeded Google.

Earlier Library Boy posts on "library pioneers" include:
  • The "Patron Saints" of Our Profession (August 2, 2006): "The founder of OCLC, Frederick G. Kilgour, died Monday, age 92. We don’t often celebrate the 'patron saints' of our profession, the people who laid the intellectual foundations of what we do everyday. Panizzi, Dewey, Cutter, Lubetzky, Ranganathan, Garfield, Vannevar Bush, Vincent Cerf. And Kilgour. When you stop to think of it, we would be drowning in one huge mess had it not been for our predecessors who came up with the rules for cataloguing, the field of citation analysis, the logic of hypertext or the structure for OCLC."
  • Online Tribute to OCLC Founder and Library Pioneer Frederick Kilgour (October 23, 2006): "Next Tuesday, October 31, 2006, there will be a tribute to Frederick G. Kilgour, the librarian who founded OCLC in 1967. Kilgour, a pioneer of library automation and the creator of the planet's largest online catalogue Worldcat, died this summer."
  • Another Library Pioneer Passes Away - Founder of Lexis (November 27, 2006): "The Law Librarian Blog posted today about the death on November 12 of H. Donald Wilson, the first president of Mead Data Central, the developer of what became LexisNexis (...) The Post article mentions that Wilson 'died of a heart attack ... in front of his computer'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Parliamentary Hearings on Federal Personal Information Protection Law

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics has been holding hearings for the past few weeks as part of its statutory review of PIPEDA, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa has been making notes of what the witnesses have been saying at the Standing Committee meetings.

CIPPIC has also posted copies of some of the submissions made to parliamentarians.

Official transcripts of the testimony given in front of the Standing Committee will gradually be made available on the parliamentary website.

There has also been further detailed coverage of the hearings on University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist's blog.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Oyez Project Coverage of the Supreme Court of the United States

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post entitled Maryland Appeals Court to Webcast that examined the extent of media coverage of court proceedings in the US, Canada and the UK.

The Oyez Project describes itself as a "multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States".

It makes available recordings of oral arguments in front of the Court, and provides court news from a variety of sources. As well, court cases can be browsed by subject or term of the Court. RSS feeds are provided for news and oral arguments.

The audio archive is complete from 1990 onwards and selective for the period between 1955 to 1990.

Source: Law Dawg Blawg (Southern Indiana University)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, December 01, 2006

Maryland Appeals Court to Webcast

The Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, will provide live webcasts of its proceedings, "hoping to be ready in time to broadcast arguments set for Dec. 4 in a high-profile case involving gay marriage," according to an Associated Press agency story reprinted in the Hoston Chronicle on Nov. 27, 2006.

Maryland will thus join other U.S. states. The newspaper story explains that "(A)bout half of the appellate state courts (...) allow coverage of hearings on the Web or on cable channels".

Related Library Boy posts include:

  • Report on TV Cameras in Ontario Courtrooms (August 24, 2006): "A report released today by Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant recommends that cameras be allowed in some courts in the province. This would include TV cameras. The list of Courts would cover the Ontario Court of Appeal and lower courts where no witnesses would be examined."
  • US and Canadian Supreme Court Transcripts (September 15, 2006): "The beSpacific blog pointed yesterday to a press release from the United States Supreme Court that explains that our neighbour's highest court 'will make the transcripts of oral arguments available free to the public on its Web site (...) on the same day an argument is heard by the Court.'... Here at the Supreme Court of Canada, courtroom proceedings are televised by the Canadian Parliamentary Affairs Channel (CPAC)."
  • UK Courts to Accept TV Cameras (November 14, 2006): "Proposals that could lead to television cameras being installed in courts could soon be set out by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, head of the judiciary.... (U)nder relaxed rules, court proceedings that could be televised include: appeals; civil proceedings — opening and closing arguments, judge’s ruling; Crown Court trials— opening speeches, closing speeches, judges’ summing up, passing of sentence; appeals in family cases but not those involving children. A consultation paper should be ready by Christmas."
  • Report on Televising U.S. Supreme Court and Other Federal Court Proceedings (November 29, 2006): "The Federation of American Scientists has made available on its website a report by the Congressional Research Service entitled Televising Supreme Court and Other Federal Court Proceedings: Legislation and Issues... The Judicial Conference of the United States prohibits the televising, recording, and broadcasting of district trial (civil and criminal) court proceedings. Under conference policy, each court of appeals may permit television and other electronic media coverage of its proceedings. Only two of the 13 courts of appeals, the Second and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals, have chosen to do so. Although legislation to allow camera coverage of the Supreme Court and other federal court proceedings has been introduced in the current and previous Congresses, none has been enacted"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Comparative Law Collection on SSRN

The Social Science Research Network (SSRN) has launched a new library or collection called Comparative & Non-U.S. Constitutional Law.

According to the description:
"Comparative and Non-U.S. Constitutional Law provides a forum for posting both completed works and works in progress that concern work on non-U.S. constitutional law and the comparative study of different constitutional systems. Topics to be covered include discussion of the provisions of individual non-U.S. constitutions, and how those provisions have been interpreted and applied; comparative studies of substantive provisions, interpretive methodologies, and approaches to structural and federalist questions; the comparison of systems with written constitutions with those with 'unwritten' constitutions; the value of using foreign law and international law in applying constitutional rules; issues relating to multi-national constitutional rules and institutions (e.g., in the European Union); and the development of comparative constitutional law as an area of scholarship. We welcome a broad range of approaches that address these and related topics, including both doctrinal scholarship and more theoretical work grounded in economics, history, literary theory, philosophy, political science, psychology, or sociology."
The SSRN is a searchable electronic library that contains abstracts, full bibliographic data, and author contact information for more than 137,000 papers, more than 100,000 of which are fulltext. It is divided into a number of specialized research networks including a Legal Scholarship Network.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:23 pm 0 comments links to this post