Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Supreme Court Advocacy Institute Launches Website

A new training organization called the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute has launched its website.

The Institute will "provide pro bono, non-partisan advocacy advice to parties appearing in an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada".

Litigants will be able to apply to appear in front of a panel of senior counsel, former Supreme Court law clerks, and professors of law who will critique their presentation and advocacy skills.

It will be a bit like a moot court session that will simulate the experience of appearing before the Supreme Court.

The National Advisory Committee is chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the program include:
  • Training Program To Prep Lawyers For Supreme Court (February 6, 2007): "The executive director of Institute explained that 'subjecting novice counsel to the exhilarating, intimidating reality of a top-court hearing will have significant benefits for both novice lawyers and Supreme Court judges who are frequently frustrated by naive or unfocused advocacy'. The Institute will be funded entirely by law firms and law societies. It will have no official ties to the real Supreme Court of Canada."
  • More on Supreme Court Advocacy Training Program (February 11, 2007): "...the program is open to all counsel, not only first-timers; it is available both to the private Bar and government counsel; (...); the program helps counsel prepare for an actual appeal; it is free; the Institute is independent of any private or government organization, and non-partisan; (...); the program is national and bilingual..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

New Department of Justice Legislative Website

Justice Canada recently launched its new website for accessing federal acts and regulations.

Among the new features is a facility for point-in-time searches of statutes and regulations. As a press release from the ministry explains: "For statutes, point-in-time versions date back to 2003, and March 2006 for regulations." One hopes that this will be extended back in time as the search tool continues to be developed.

The most significant change is no doubt the greater speed with which laws and regulations will now be updated. Justice Canada is promising that updates will henceforth be made to the website within a few weeks, or even days, after the coming into force of new or amending legislation. In the past, it could take months.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:06 pm 2 comments links to this post

New Research Guide on Access to Pharmaceuticals in Third World Countries

GlobaLex, the online collection maintained by the New York University School of Law, has added a new research guide to its website. It is called Research Guide on TRIPS and Compulsory Licensing: Access to Innovative Pharmaceuticals for Least Developed Countries:

"This research guide will focus on legal and economic factors surrounding the global problem of gaining access to innovative drugs. The paper will begin with some background history of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), leading up to the most recent modification that was adopted in Hong Kong on December 18, 2005. This discussion is necessary to understand the obstacles against providing access to essential drugs despite the compulsory licensing provision that was passed specifically for that purpose: to help provide essential drugs to those that could not otherwise afford them. The analysis will then consider reasons that support and oppose expanding the compulsory licensing provision to hurdle those obstacles. The analysis will show that the benefits of providing essential medication outweigh the risks of lost capital gains and counterfeit drugs. Finally, the research guide will cite several solutions that have been suggested by others and propose further research on their feasibility".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

More Commentary on Supreme Court Security Certificate Ruling

The Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court has compiled a list of commentary on last week's Supreme Court of Canada ruling that the security certificate process under which the federal government can detain and deport foreign-born terrorist suspects is unconstitutional:
  • Reworking Canadian Immigration Security Detention in Light of Charkaoui et al.: "While the SCC has given some clear recommendations and guidance in terms of the how and when of an acceptable security detention procedure, it has not commented on the where - the actual, carceral space where detention should take place. The Supreme Court, as the current government has been quick to point out, did not rule against the indefinite detention of non-citizens on security grounds ipso facto; rather, it made it clear that any such detention must be subject to prompt, fair, and regular review. Indefinite detention itself does not constitute a s.7 Charter violation, but, without regular review, the uncertainty associated with the process poses the potential for psychological stress, and therefore raises the possibility of cruel and unusual punishment. This suggests that the task before Parliament is to develop a regime where detention is accompanied by a robust review process. In addressing this matter, the issue of where detention takes place - and, as importantly, under whose jurisdiction - will have to be considered."
  • The Charkaoui Decision, International Human Rights, and Canadian National Self-Image: A Blow to "Security Relativism"?: "...[I]n coming to all of the afore-mentioned conclusions, the court took heed of relevant developments in some other lands; firmly placed itself on the side of the more progressive constitutional courts in comparable English-speaking jurisdictions; aligned itself with more humanist practice in this socio-legal sphere; and thus delivered a judgment that ranks 'up there' with cases such as the much celebrated A. v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2004] UKHL 56, [2005] 3 All England Reports 169 (the British decision on the illegality of indefinite detention of terrorist suspects); and Zadvydas v. Davis 533 U.S. 678 (2001) (the US Supreme Court decision on a similar question). In terms of the depth of consideration that Charkaoui gave to the practice of some similarly situated jurisdictions, the judgment demonstrates that - much like other branches of the Canadian government - the Supreme Court is keenly aware of Canada's historical place in the world (however constructed that location may seem)(...) However, this pro-human rights conception of Canadian national selfimage was not enough to prod the court in Charkaoui toward a more robust and convincing deployment of internationalist legal norms/discourse (in this case, international human rights law) in order to enrich - and perhaps even re-orient - its reasoning regarding the question of the existence or otherwise of a right of appeal in cases in which a security certificate has been issued against a non-citizen and has been subsequently declared "reasonable" by a federal court judge."
  • Collected commentary on the Charkaoui decision: "The decision of the Supreme Court of Canada last week in the cases of Charkaoui v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), Almrei v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) and Harkat v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), reported online at 2007 SCC 9 has engendered a lot of commentary. We will collect here the links to comments on The Court and elsewhere, updating this information throughout the week as necessary." [I even get two mentions for my earlier posts on the subject...]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, February 26, 2007

Law Day 2007 Activities

Every year, the Canadian Bar Association organizes Law Day, "a time for the public to learn about the law, the legal profession and some of the legal institutions that form the cornerstones of our Canadian democracy".

The national day will be April 17, but local dates may vary across the country.

The focus for 2007 is Access to Justice. There will be public lectures, mock trials, courthouse tours, open citizenship courts, and poster, photography and website design contests for elementary and high school students.

The CBA website contains links to the Law Day activities pages for the various provinces and territories.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Supreme Court Ruling on Security Certificates

As most readers of legal news know by now, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled yesterday that the security certificate process under which the federal government can detain and deport foreign-born terrorist suspects is unconstitutional.

The full text of the ruling is on the Lexum University of Montreal website.

Under the system, the individuals affected by the certificates as well as their legal counsel cannot see the national security evidence used by the Crown.

There is commentary and reaction from a variety of sources:
  • Security-law ruling puts Parliament on notice - Ottawa forced to scramble after top court overturns controversial detention measures (Globe and Mail): "Alex Neve, Canadian director of Amnesty International, said the decision will reverberate through legislatures and courtrooms around the world, and provide a model for other countries attempting to deal with security at a time of increased international terrorism."
  • Top court strikes down key anti-terror measure (CanWest News Service): "Other anti-terrorism measures that became law in the emotional months following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States have also been under attack in recent months. Two key elements of the Anti-Terrorism Act - investigative hearings and preventive arrests - are due to expire next month unless renewed by Parliament and the government is struggling to save them from defeat."
  • Supreme Court puts rights first (Toronto Star editorial): "Has Canada's Supreme Court suddenly thrown open the country's doors to Al Qaeda and its ilk, by ruling yesterday that Ottawa's procedures for dealing with terror suspects are unlawful? That's what some commentators might want Canadians to believe, but it is hardly the truth (...) This is not a 'soft on terror' decision by a weak-kneed bench. Rather, it is a principled demand by a vigilant and respected court that the 25-year-old Charter of Rights and Freedoms not be shoved aside as we fight terror. Five years after the panic of the 9/11 terror attacks on the U.S. swept Parliament, it reaffirms a healthier balance between national security and basic liberties. There will be no Guantanamo detention centre here."
  • Possible et nécessaire (Le Devoir editorial): "La Cour suprême, en parlant d'une seule voix sur la constitutionnalité des certificats de sécurité, a rappelé hier que sécurité et droits fondamentaux peuvent être conciliés. Un rappel qui tombe à point, au moment où les libéraux se divisent et où le gouvernement conservateur use de bas arguments en matière de lutte contre le terrorisme (...) Les juges sont trop polis pour s'exprimer ainsi, mais, à la lecture de leur décision, on a en fait l'impression qu'ils nous disent collectivement de respirer par le nez. Préserver la sécurité est essentiel, mais le faire dans le respect de nos valeurs est réaliste, possible et impératif. [In speaking with a single voice on the constitutionality of the security certificates, the Supreme Court reminded us yesterday that security and fundamental rights can be reconciled. This is a welcome reminder, at a time when Liberals are divided and the Conservative government is using low arguments in the fight against terrorism... The judges are too polite to say so, but reading their decision, one has the impression they are telling all of us to take a deep breath. Preserving security is essential, but doing so while respecting our values is realistic, possible and imperative]"
  • Charkaoui: Beyond Anti-Terrorism: Procedural Fairness and Section 7 of the Charter (The Court, Osgoode Hall Law School): "Today, the Government's honeymoon before the Supreme Court in anti-terrorism cases came to an end. For those who followed these cases as they made their way before the Court the result is not entirely surprising. At the hearing, the judges aggressively challenged the Government lawyers on the fairness of holding individuals for potentially indefinite periods without providing the detainee, or a lawyer acting on his or her behalf, with an opportunity to review and respond to the actual evidence (...) The Court also pointed out something that has too often been forgotten by many Western Democracies in the post-911 world. Simply because the state's interest happens to be national security does not mean that long established principles of fair process should automatically be suspended..."
  • CBA Welcomes Supreme Court of Canada Decision on Charkaoui (Canadian Bar Association): "The CBA argued that special counsel – who would review secret evidence and advocate on behalf of a detained person – would be an appropriate alternative. The court agreed with this argument. The CBA also advocated that Canada learn from the U.K. experience, and permit ongoing contact between the detained person and the special counsel after review of the secret evidence."

In its ruling, the Supreme Court justices did indeed propose that the government look into something like the "special advocate" system used abroad, in particular in the UK.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

UN Counter-Terrorism Handbook

UN Pulse, a news alert service produced by the team of reference librarians at the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York, recently mentioned the launch of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Online Handbook:

"The handbook is a collaborative effort of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), which brings together 24 UN departments, programmes, funds, offices and agencies that have a counter-terrorism related mandate as well as outside partner organizations. The Handbook may be searched according to broad themes such as preventing a terrorist attack, technical assistance, mitigation and response. Other searches allow users to focus on areas such as financing of terrorism; promoting education, tolerance and dialogue; protecting nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological materials; assisting victims; preventing travel by terrorists; providing training to law enforcement entities; assisting with drafting of anti-terrorism legislation; defending human rights; or dealing with hostage situations; and protecting key infrastructure".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 22, 2007

New Library of Parliament Publications

The Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament has just made available 2 publications:
  • Civilian Oversight of the RCMP's National Security Functions (revision of an earlier edition of the document from January 2006): "On 11 September 2001, terrorists hijacked several aircraft and attacked civilian and military targets in the United States (...) Following these events, Parliament passed the Anti-terrorism Act. This statute enacted the Charities Registration (Security Information) Act and amended 20 other laws. By defining terrorist support as a criminal offence, it changed the RCMP’s role and provided an opportunity for the organization to be more involved in matters of national security. Although Parliament expanded the role of the RCMP, it did not subject its national security functions to comprehensive civilian oversight. This has created a disparity between the review mechanisms for CSIS and the RCMP, whereby the RCMP is subject to less rigorous scrutiny." The report examines a few options for better oversight of RCMP anti-terrorism operations.
  • Bill C-27: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace): "The bill addresses, in two ways, the problem of offenders who have committed one or more violent or sexual offences. First, it tightens the rules that apply to dangerous offenders in the case of repeat offenders. Second, it extends the recognizance to keep the peace and clarifies the terms of recognizances in order to prevent repeat offences. More specifically, the bill makes the following amendments to the Criminal Code (...): an offender convicted of a third violent or sexual offence (...) for which it would be appropriate to impose a sentence of two years or more is presumed to be a dangerous offender, and will therefore be incarcerated for as long as the offender presents an unacceptable risk to society (...); (...) the conditions of a recognizance to keep the peace in relation to a violent or sexual offence may include participation in a treatment program, wearing an electronic monitoring device or requiring the defendant to observe a curfew (...)"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

Senate Committee Report on Anti-Terrorism Act

The Special Senate Committee on the Anti-Terrorism Act released its recommendations earlier today.

Among other things, it proposes extending 2 controversial measures for another 3 years as long as additional civil liberties safeguards are adopted.

Those 2 measures are preventive detention and investigative hearings. Both measures will expire next week unless the federal Parliament votes to keep them.

More from CBC News and Canadian Press.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

International Conference on Administration of Justice and National Security

The Federal Court and the Canadian Centre of Intelligence and Security Studies are holding
an International Conference on the Administration of Justice and National Security in Democracies June 10-12 2007, in Ottawa.

The conference will address issues relating to the administration of justice and human rights in the context of national security threats, from an international perspective. The conference is co-sponsored by the Courts Administration Service.

The event will bring together members of the judiciary, leading academics, and lawyers from Canada, Europe, the United States and elsewhere.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Charter 25th Anniversary Conferences

As I have already mentioned, McGill University organized a conference last week on the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Osgoode Hall Law School site The Court has listed some of the media coverage for the conference (see bottom of the article).

Additional media items include:

There are other conferences this year to mark the 25th anniversary of the Charter. Some of the key ones are:
  • 25th Anniversary of the Charter - A Tribute to Chief Justice R. Roy McMurtry (Law Society of Upper Canada, April 12, 2007, Toronto): "Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Charter and honour Chief Justice R. Roy McMurtry's pivotal role in this seminal event in Canada's legal history. At this symposium, senior members of the judiciary and political leaders will discuss the inception and impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, both in Canada and internationally. Leading constitutional scholars and practitioners will provide an in-depth analysis of the top ten Charter decisions of the past twenty-five years. "
  • 25 Years Under the Charter (Association for Canadian Studies, April 16-17, 2007, Ottawa): "The event is designed to launch a national conversation on the Charter. The conference will feature presentations by Canada’s leading academics, jurists, former and current elected officials, individuals from various community organizations and many others. In addition we hope for a large turnout of law students from across the country."
  • A Living Tree: The Legacy of 1982 in Canada’s Political Evolution (Saskatchewan Institute of Public Policy, May 23-25, 2007, Regina): "This conference will explore the significance that the 1982 Constitution has had on public policy and democratic politics in Canada and how the Constitution Act will continue to shape our evolution as a political community. A topic of this breadth warrants a comprehensive examination of several pertinent issues..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Future of Electronic Discovery in Canada

In the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly (vol. 26 no. 39), Brian Reny writes in The future of electronic discovery about trends in electronic discovery that will affect Canadian legal practitioners.

Reny is the national director of electronic discovery with KPMG’s Forensic practice in Toronto

The article examines emerging case law, as well as the evolution of practice directions and of corporate policies on matters ranging from records management and document retention to e-mail use.

Reny also describes the characteristics of new "e-discovery" technologies.

He concludes:
"Will companies be better equipped to quickly respond to requests for electronic information? Courtrooms fully equipped to present electronic documents in their original electronic format? Centralized data repositories that allow online Internet access to relevant documents by all parties to the litigation, their legal counsel and the assigned judge, regulator or arbitrator? Many lawyers are still struggling to analyze the new era in which they work and more importantly, they are struggling to provide adequate counsel to their clients in the area of electronic information".

"For the lawyer or law firm that is unprepared, understanding the fast-paced developments in the realm of e-discovery can mean the difference between winning and losing cases and maintaining and losing clients".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:25 pm 1 comments links to this post

New LLRX Resources For February 2007

The LLRX.com current awareness and research website has added a whole list of new resources for February 2007 including:
  • Creating Intranet Applications for Knowledge Sharing Within Law Firms (Jason Eiseman): "A knowledge-sharing, collaborative application can be as simple as a system for routing reference questions to appropriate librarians, or an expertise locator. The key to making these applications valuable is by leveraging that user-generated content so the entire organization can learn from it. Instead of simply routing reference questions, why not store them in a searchable application, place them on a blog, a wiki, or otherwise make them available so other employees can learn from the answers. This may not always be possible for a variety of logistical reasons, but it is surely an ideal we can strive for. These types of solutions are becoming easier to custom build or implement. Today, intranet applications can be custom built with simple programming languages and databases. Often open-source applications like blogs and wikis, costing very little (if anything), are easy to customize (...) are being deployed inside organizations as well." [Steven Matthews at the Vancouver Law Librarian Blog comments on Eiseman's article]
  • Technology and Policy Issues With Acquiring Digital Collections (Roger V. Skalbeck and Iva M. Futrell): "Companies from Google to the Thomson Corporation, from Microsoft to LexisNexis are all undertaking large digitization projects focusing on better access to paper-based resources. Undeniably, many law firms have a need for some of the digitized products being produced through these efforts, and it’s hard to imagine that interest in digitized collections could wane in the near or distant future. In acquiring access to new digital collections, law firms and other information consumers need to think about issues of cost, technology requirements and ease of use. Beyond that, merely acquiring a new collection will not ensure that all people who need the information will know it exists when the need to access it arises. In this article, we address several topics relating to digitized collections, framing the discussion by first discussing two legal-specific digitization projects available for anybody who wants to acquire them, including firms, courts and schools alike."
  • Seven Legal Technology Trends for 2007: Widening the Digital Divide in Law Practice (Dennis Kennedy): "By the end of 2007, we will be talking about a clear and growing digital divide between technology-forward and technology-backward firms. It will happen slowly, barely perceptibly in some cases, but we will see growing evidence of that gap and a restructuring of the practice of law. Expect uncertainty and confusion over new Microsoft versions and electronic discovery to create a bit of a lull in legal technology. Some firms will take advantage of that lull to re-evaluate and refocus making solid business decisions, but many firms will not. More than any other factor, this will lead to a growing digital divide between the technology-forward firms and the technology-backward firms, with fewer and fewer firms left in the middle, which probably will not be a great place to be over the long term. Security and portability will be important watchwords. However, the place to watch is the Internet and the tools to consider carefully are the collaboration tools."
  • The Tao of Law Librarianship: Using RSS Feeds for New Book Titles - Calling All Publishers (Connie Crosby): "Why do the publishers not just each have their new titles in an RSS feed, which I could read in my aggregator (feed reader) like I do a number of the blogs and news feeds I follow? And why could those feeds not be taken together into one feed, or filtered according to my collection subject needs? Why could my library association not pull all feeds together onto one webpage for those people who don’t use an aggregator? I quickly surveyed the websites of major Canadian legal publishers, and discovered not a single one had an RSS feed of new titles, or any other RSS feed for that matter. Clearly this was something to work on (...) Then at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) last May I talked to a number of publisher reps and fellow librarians, trying to build some groundswell for the idea."

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

AALL 2007 Conference Blog

I was speaking yesterday by phone with Vicenç Feliú, the Foreign Comparative and International Law Librarian at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center (Louisiana State University) about something related to work.

In the conversation, it came out that he is the editor of The AALL Second Line Blog, the blog for the 2007 conference of the American Association of Law Libraries.

The conference is taking place in New Orleans (July 14 - 17, 2007).

The blog will feature announcements, news, photos, and reports from conference goers. An RSS feed and an e-mail subscription are available.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 18, 2007

More About Blogs Changing Legal Scholarship

This is a follow-up to the February 12, 2007 post entitled More and More Original Legal Scholarship Going Online.

This weekend, Concurring Opinions commented on an interview given by Yale constitutional law professor Jack Balkin to the Yale Law Report. Balkin is one of the authors of the blog Balkinization.

The interview deals with the impact that blogs and open access repositories such as the Social Sciences Research Network (SSRN) will have on legal scholarship.

"In the legal academy, you will get an increasing integration between blogs and legal scholarship, between blogs and what you read in law reviews. As I mentioned, law reviews are already experimenting with blogs as adjuncts to their online presence. There will be more connections between blogs and SSRN and other online publications. More and more legal scholarship will occur in blog formats, or link to blogs, or cite to blogs, and the distinctions between blogging and other forms of legal scholarship will begin to blur, even if some important differences remain. As this happens, you’ll see the public persona of law professors migrate to their blogs".

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

New Library of Parliament Research Publications

The Parliamentary Information and Research Service of the Library of Parliament has recently made the following research publications available:
  • Assisted Human Reproduction and Informed Consent: "On 17 September 2005, Health Canada published the proposed Assisted Human Reproduction (Section 8) Regulations pursuant to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (Act). As a result of the public consultation process, the regulations were amended, and a revised version was presented to the House and referred to the Standing Committee on Health on 27 October 2006 (...) Section 8 deals with written consent that must be obtained from the donor in order to use human reproductive material for the creation of an embryo or the use of an in vitro embryo for any purpose. This section also provides that human reproductive material shall not be removed posthumously from the donor’s body without the prior written consent of the donor."
  • Human Trafficking: "Trafficking in persons is not the same as migrant smuggling. The key distinction is that smuggled migrants are usually free once they arrive at their intended destination, whereas trafficking victims may be held against their will and subject to forced labour or prostitution(...) The U.S. Department of State released the most recent Trafficking in Persons Report in June 2006. The report states that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across transnational borders, or from one country to another, each year. When intra-country or 'within country' estimates are included, the figure rises into the millions. The 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report also indicates that 'Canada is a source, transit, and destination country …' Some 800 people are trafficked into this country each year, while an additional 1,500 to 2,200 are trafficked through Canada to the United States."
  • The "Spanking" Law: Section 43 of the Criminal Code: "Section 43 of the Criminal Code is controversial in that it expressly offers parents and teachers a defence when they use reasonable force to discipline a child. Given an increased recognition of the rights and best interests of children, many have called for an end to any form of physical punishment of children and youth in Canada, which would necessarily include the repeal of s. 43. Others, while acknowledging that abuse itself is never justified, have argued that minor physical correction is acceptable in certain circumstances and that individuals should not risk criminal prosecution as a result of their parenting techniques. This paper reviews the content of s. 43 and its relatively recent judicial interpretation by the Supreme Court of Canada, a majority of which upheld the provision in 2004. It then discusses past proposals to repeal the section, and the legal effects that such a repeal would have, given the definition of assault in Canada’s Criminal Code and the availability of common law defences. Finally, public opinion on abolishing s. 43, research regarding the effects of physical punishment and international perspectives on the issue are briefly examined. "
It is possible to receive an RSS feed of new research publications from the Library of Parliament.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, February 16, 2007

James Driskell Wrongful Conviction Report

This week, the Manitoba Attorney General has released the report of the judicial commission of inquiry in the James Driskell case.

The commission was led by the Honourable Patrick LeSage, Q.C., former Chief Justice of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Driskell was wrongfully convicted in 1991 of murder. That verdict was overturned in 2005 by the federal government, which launched a commission of inquiry into how this miscarriage of justice could have happened.

Driskell spent 13 years in jail.

The commission report concluded that police and Crown lawyers failed to disclose crucial evidence that could have prevented Driskell's wrongful conviction. The jury was also "seriously misled" on issues including the reliability of a key Crown witness.

Previous Library Boy posts about wrongful convictions include:
  • The Innocence Project - Wrongful Conviction Website (November 23, 2005): "The New York-based Innocence Project is a not-for-profit legal clinic run out of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law that takes on cases of wrongfully convicted individuals whose innocence has been conclusively proven thanks to forensic DNA testing (...) In Canada, there is the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) ... AIDWYC, either directly or through the work of member lawyers, has been involved in bringing to light many wrongful convictions in Canada, including those of Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Clayton Johnson, Peter Frumusa and Gregory Parsons. "
  • Wrongful Conviction Resources on the Web (December 19, 2005): "The LLRX.com website has just published a bibliography entitled Wrongful Conviction and Innocence Resources on the Internet. It is divided into sections on current awareness, 'innocence projects' (groups and research projects that help investigate cases of wrongful conviction), government commissions, case profiles and case databases, reports on wrongful conviction published by the government, academics, various organizations and the media in the United States, courses, conferences and organizations."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Internet Privacy Symposium

The University of Ottawa and the Privacy Commission of Canada are organizing an Internet Privacy Symposium on February 23, 2007.

The event will feature contributions from prominent researchers from academia, government departments and public interest organizations on topics such as Internet privacy statements, the use of consumer information online, Internet privacy and the workplace, electronic health records, digital rights management and identity theft.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:22 pm 0 comments links to this post

First Ever Canadian Study On Workplace Victimization Published

Statistics Canada has released the first-ever study measuring criminal victimization on the job.

Highlights:
  • Nearly one-fifth of all incidents of violent victimization, including physical assault, sexual assault and robbery, occurred in the victim's workplace in 2004. This represents over 356,000 violent workplace incidents in Canada’s ten provinces.
  • Workplace violence incidents were much more common in certain employment sectors. For example, 33% of workplace violence incidents involved a victim who worked in social assistance or health care services, 14% of incidents involved victims working in accommodation or food services and 11% of incidents were committed against those working in educational services.
  • Physical assaults made up a higher proportion of all violent incidents in the workplace, representing 71% of all incidents of workplace violence. This compares to 57% of violent non-workplace incidents.
  • Workplace violence was much more likely to come to the attention of police than violence outside the workplace, with 37% of workplace incidents being reported to the police compared to 17% of non-workplace incidents.
  • Violent workplace incidents involving male victims were more likely than those involving female victims to come to the attention of the police (57% versus 20%).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:14 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Are Canadians Copyright Pirates?

Apparently, the International Intellectual Property Alliance wants the U.S. government to add Canada to a list of intellectual property villains.

"The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) submitted its recommendations to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab today in the annual 'Special 301' review of copyright piracy and market access problems around the world. IIPA’s submission discusses copyright protection, enforcement, and market access problems in 60 countries/territories, of which it recommends that 45 be placed on an appropriate USTR list".

The industry lobby group proposes that Canada be placed on a Priority Watch list because we are supposedly a hotbed of copyright bandits.

The University of Ottawa's Michael Geist provides some much-needed context:

"While the IIPA recommendations have predictably led to negative, overblown press coverage in Canada, a little context is needed. The reality is that the majority of the world's biggest economies face similar criticism (...) "

"(T)here are dozens more countries on the list (...) each invariably criticized for not adopting the DMCA, not extending the term of copyright, not throwing enough people in jail, or creating too many exceptions to support education and other societal goals. In fact, the majority of the world's population finds itself on the list, with 23 of the world's 30 most populous countries targeted for criticism (...)"

"The U.S. approach is quite clearly one of 'do what I say, not what I do' (fair use is good for the U.S., but no one else), advising country after country that it does not meet international TPM standards (perhaps it is the U.S. that is not meeting emerging international standards), and criticizing national attempts to improve education or culture through exceptions or funding programs. Moreover, it is very clear that the U.S. lobby groups are never satisfied as even those countries that have ratified the WIPO treaties or entered into detailed free trade agreements with the U.S. that include IP provisions still find themselves criticized for not doing enough".
Matthew Ingram also chimes in. He is the technology writer for The Globe and Mail:

"So what Canada is accused of doing, essentially, is not passing specific laws that the U.S. motion picture industry wants it to, to make any form of copying illegal and easier to prosecute. They’d probably like it if we didn’t have friends over to watch our DVDs too, but luckily that is still legal".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wikis for the Legal Profession

The February 2007 issue of the American Bar Association publication Law Practice Management has an article by Dennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell on Wikis for the Legal Profession.

...(P)erhaps the greatest potential of the wiki tool for lawyers is its use as a collaborative tool or even an information or knowledge platform, especially as a way to gather and manage 'unstructured' information easily and quickly. The key feature of wikis in this regard is that multiple authors and editors are able to work together to create a collection of information or even collaborative documents".

"(...)We've scoured the Net for some of the best links on wikis -- we'll discuss and point you to resources about what a wiki is and how it works, how to pronounce 'wiki,' how a lawyer can use one in his or her practice, and how this tool is an extremely powerful platform for collaborating with others on the Internet".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

Another Law Review Adds Online Companion

This is a follow-up to the February 12, 2007 post entitled More and More Original Legal Scholarship Going Online. That post described how an increasing number of law reviews are transforming legal scholarship by publishing blog-like companions or supplements to allow for expanded debate.

The Texas Law Review has joined the trend by launching See Also.

"See Also (...) presents responses and critiques of recently published articles in the Review. For each issue of the Review, See Also features responses from members of the academic community and practitioners, styled as op-ed pieces, in order to promote further discussion of the topics addressed in the Review. In addition, See Also provides a forum for our readers to offer their own thoughts and perspectives".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sex and Love and Law in the Workplace

Got your attention, eh?

Happy Valentine's Day!

To get in the mood, here are a few interesting sites:

  • The Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) has created a new Virtual Museum of Canada exhibit entitled Valentine's Day: Love and Romance Through the Ages. It is about the history of Valentine's Day, which has been celebrated throughout the ages across North America and in some regions of Europe.
  • Artefacts Canada has an image selection of Valentine's Day objects from Canadian museums.
  • The Australian Library and Information Association has declared Valentine's Day to also be Library Lovers Day: "Individual libraries will be offering special programs, ranging from blind dates with a good book, speed dating based on reading tastes, displays, films, treats and competitions."
  • Resourceshelf has links to Valentine's Day facts from the U.S. as well as Valentine-related place names in the UK.
  • And you can now enter a contest to choose the hottest law librarian! (OK, not exactly Valentine's Day-related, but who cares?): "It's not as strange as it might seem. Librarians get a bad rap; they're regarded as frumpy and, well, bookish. But we know there are lots of hot legal librarians out there just waiting to be discovered."
And since everything here is supposed to have some connection to the law, here are a few blawg items about the legal problems with romance in the workplace:

  • More on Romance in the Workplace (Thoughts from a Management Lawyer, March 11, 2005): "Office romances are a risky proposition for the manager and can have broad and extensive negative ramiffications on the company. "
  • Love Contracts and the Workplace Romance (same blog, February 15, 2006): "...a couple of interesting articles that are worth checking out. The first by Michael Best & Friedrich LLP is called 'Romance in the Workplace: Tips to Minimize the Legal and Practical Risks for Employers'. The second is by Nixon Peabody LLP called 'Valentine’s Day At Work: What’s Love Got To Do With It? Cautionary Tales From Workplace Relationships Gone Bad'. "
  • Failed Workplace Romances Cost Employers (same blog, February 22, 2006): "Half of a random sample of 226 office workers in Toronto said they had been involved in a romantic relationship with someone at work that ended badly. Of those, about 43 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men said their work suffered in the aftermath."
  • Cupid Loose in the Workplace (Workplace Prof Blog, February 12, 2007): "I was somewhat surprised to see the number of employers who still have not bothered to put into place some workplace dating policies. Lisa Takeuchi Cullen at Time's Work in Progress blog cites outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas for the proposition that 1/3 of all employers have no such policies."
  • Sex in the Workplace (same blog, February 13, 2007): "So we are all aware of the urban legends about consensual sexual encounters in the workplace, but how often does such conduct actually take place?"
  • Love Contracts (Contracts Prof Blog, February 14, 2007): "In order to protect themselves from sexual harassment suits in connection with such romances, companies are adopting so-called 'love contracts.' Love Contracts (also called Relationship Contracts) are apparently especially common in the entertainment industry. They permit employees to disclose their office romances while also shielding employers from liability."
And finally, Valentine's Day is not only the favourite day of the year of florists. Private investigators (and divorce lawyers) just love the annual day of love:

"It's the day most cheaters dread and the day many cheaters get caught. The spouse and the side dish both want attention, and, during the juggling act, the two-timer slips, right in front of a private detective's camera lens."

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

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Law Commission of Canada Archives

Slaw.ca reports today that Library and Archives Canada has preserved and stored the documents and reports of the Law Commission of Canada, whose funding was ended by the current Canadian government.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:18 pm 2 comments links to this post

New Issue of Global Legal Monitor (Law Library of Congress)

The January 2007 issue of the Global Legal Monitor is available on the site of the Law Library of Congress. Simply click on the link marked CURRENT ISSUE.

It is a publication of the Law Library of Congress that provides regular updates on legal developments from around the world.

"This online publication will be updated frequently, drawing upon information selected from the Global Legal Information Network, official national legal publications, and reliable press sources. Occasionally, a special section may be added to include lectures, conferences, symposia, and exhibits on timely legal topics sponsored by the Law Library of Congress."

The Monitor carries items from around the world on topics covering every aspect of law.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, February 12, 2007

More and More Original Legal Scholarship Going Online

The Virginia Law Review has created an online companion publication called In Brief:
"(I)t joined the law journals at Yale, Harvard, Penn, and Michigan in a growing trend among the country’s leading law reviews to publish original scholarship on the Internet".

"Although [Editor-in-Chief Jim] Zucker claims that the Law Review didn’t feel any pressure after the Yale Law Journal published the first online companion (The Pocket Part) in October 2005, he believes that past and current Law Review managing boards possessed a uniform sense that the future of legal scholarship is online. Among other advantages, these boards recognized that online companions can truncate the publication process, which may take as much as a year from the point of an article’s submission to its publication".
Like The Pocket Part, In Brief intends to take an "intermediate approach", more than a blog with quickie posts, and more than just an extension of the print edition.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the evolution of legal scholarship include:
  • Yale Law Journal "Pocket Part" (November 8, 2005): "The Pocket Part is a blog-like companion or supplement to the Yale Law Journal (the full-text of articles is available in PDF format on the Journal website)."
  • Blogs Have Impact on Law Reviews (March 1, 2006): "Kevin O'Keefe at LexBlog has posted a piece entitled 'Law blogs impacting law reviews : Wall Street Journal'. It discusses how many scholars dissatisfied with the constraints of traditional law reviews have started contributing 'relevant and timely commentary' to Internet sites and blogs. O'Keefe adds that law reviews are also offering original content on the Internet and cites the example of Harvard and Yale that now offer original web-based, or blog-like, supplements to their print publications."
  • Open Access Publishing and the Future of Legal Scholarship (March 31, 2006): "A few weeks ago, the Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon hosted a conference on open access publishing in the legal field (...) All the presentations from the conference are available as podcasts. The papers themselves will be published according to open access principles."
  • Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update (May 1, 2006): "Conference papers have been published on the Social Sciences Research Network."
  • Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update (2) (May 11, 2006): " 'In the past few years, blogs have begun to affect the delivery of legal education, the production and dissemination of legal scholarship, and the practice of law. We are delighted that over twenty of the nation’s leading law professor bloggers have agreed to join with us for the first scholarly conference on the impact of blogs on the legal academy'. 3L Epiphany has gathered other bloggers' entries about the conference into one convenient easy-to-scan list."
  • Forthcoming Article - The Lag in Open Access Law Publishing (July 16, 2006): " In the forthcoming issue of the Lewis & Clark Law Review, University of Pittsburgh School of Law professor Michael Madison has an article entitled 'The Idea of the Law Review : Scholarship, Prestige, and Open Access'... 'There is a concept of the law review that law professors have carried around in their heads, more or less consistently, for decades. I need to talk about what that is before I can talk about whether open access for law reviews is a good thing, why the reviews are reluctant to go down that path, and ultimately how to think about open access in general'."
  • Yale Law Journal on the Future of Legal Scholarship (September 8, 2006): "The September 2006 issue of the Pocket Part, the online companion to the Yale Law Journal, features a series of papers about the future of legal scholarship. The papers discuss the challenges that the Internet and public blogs can pose to scholarly debate..."
  • Open Access Changing How We Think About Legal Scholarship (December 18, 2006): "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."
  • Law Journal Issue on Open Access Publishing and Legal Scholarship (January 9, 2007): "The latest issue of the Lewis & Clark Law Review is being promoted on the Lewis and Clark Law School library blog. Last year, the Portland, Oregon law school hosted a conference on open access publishing in the legal field, with all of the presentations available as podcasts. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 11, 2007

More on Supreme Court Advocacy Training Program

This is another follow-up to the February 6, 2007 Library Boy post entitled Training Program To Prep Lawyers For Supreme Court.

The Osgoode Hall law school blog The Court has additional information about this independent non-governmental project called the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute:
  1. the program is open to all counsel, not only first-timers;
  2. it is available both to the private Bar and government counsel;
  3. before enrolling, counsel need to have leave to appeal granted by the Court;
  4. the program helps counsel prepare for an actual appeal;
  5. it is free;
  6. the Institute is independent of any private or government organization, and non-partisan;
  7. the Institute is about advocates helping their colleagues;
  8. the program is national and bilingual;
  9. the Institute’s website is coming soon to www.scai-ipcs.ca;
  10. the Institute’s goal is to assist counsel and the Court by improving the quality of advocacy in this unique forum.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 10, 2007

U.S. Chief Justice Offers Advice For Better Advocacy

This is a follow-up to my post of February 6, 2007 entitled Training Program To Prep Lawyers For Supreme Court.

That post described a new training project called the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute that is intended to help Canadian lawyers better prepare for appearances in front of the Supreme Court. It includes mock hearings where lawyers can be critiqued by some of Canada's top litigators.

The thinking is that this kind of training will be of great advantage to novice lawyers and be of benefit to Supreme Court judges who are known to be frustrated by occasionally naive jurists who wander all over the map.

Well, it might not involve a formal training program, but some important people in that great Republic to the south of us also think lawyers are in need of help when it comes to appearances in front of the top court of the land.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday about a speech U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. gave to an audience at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago:

"Attention, Supreme Court practitioners! Absolutely free advice on how to make your briefs better-read, your arguments more closely followed, your justices more sympathetic..."
Among the tips from the supreme U.S. Supremo:
  • "First, pretend that you're not always right"
  • "How about a little recognition that it's a tough job? 'I mean, if it was an easy case, we wouldn't have it'."
  • "Try to become more 'attuned' to what judges are asking... 'Now what does that question tell me about what that judge is thinking?' and respond rapidly rather than trying to stick to my script'..."
  • "An acknowledgment that the justices face a complicated case can attract sympathy from the bench, while an argument that a case is a no-brainer is a challenge to start looking for holes".
  • "You don't see it very often and it can obviously be risky, but for somebody to get up and say, 'The biggest argument against us is' whatever, 'this precedent that you decided six years ago, and if you were going to follow it down the line, my client should probably lose. Here's why I think you shouldn't follow it in this case.' ...'I think that type of an approach could be very effective'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Survey on Canadian Attitudes Regarding Charter of Rights

In conjunction with the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada's conference marking the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Montreal-based Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP) asked polling firm SES Research to do a detailed survey of the attitudes of Canadians towards the Charter.

Among the more interesting findings:
  • "Much has been made of equating Charter values to Canadian values, but we found that the Charter is by no means central to Canadian identity".
  • "[There is] a clear generational divide on this question — younger Canadians tend to idealize the Charter more than middle-aged and older Canadians".
  • "(F)ewer than 6 Canadians out of 10 gave the Charter a thumbs-up, while 4 out of 10 gave it a thumbs-down or couldn’t be sure".
  • "When we asked Canadians whether the courts or Parliament should have the final say in rights issues, a clear majority, 54 percent, said the courts, while a significant minority, 31.2 percent, said Parliament should have the last word, and 14.8 percent were unsure. Perhaps surprisingly, the strongest regional support for the courts having the final say was in Quebec at 68.5 percent (...) In effect, majority support for the courts holding sway nationally is delivered by Quebec, ironically the one province whose legislature has never signed on to the Constitution Act of 1982".
The February 2007 issue of the IRPP journal, Policy Options, has a special section on the anniversary of the Charter.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:44 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Customized Search Engine for Canadian Government Documents

The spread of customized searching continues in the library world.

David Sharp, the Government Publications Librarian at the Maps, Data and Government Information Centre at Carleton University in Ottawa, has recently developed a customized search tool for Canadian government documents.

According to a post on the Access to Government Information blog:


"For now, it searches on the federal level, including select crown corporations, the provincial and territorial level; as well, it searches 80 municipal sites from across Canada. (The 80 municipalities were chosen from a list of Statistic Canada’s Census Metropolitan Areas, Census Agglomerations, and Census Subdivisions for Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Apologies if I overlooked anyone.)"
As an example, try a search for "wrongful conviction miscarriage justice". There are results from Justice Canada, the Canadian Intergovernmental Conference Secretariat, the governments of Ontario and Manitoba, the House of Commons and the Senate, etc.

Sharp writes that he was inspired by the librarians at the Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington, Indiana who developed the customized search tool for intergovernmental organizations I described on November 16, 2006.

Earlier Library Boy posts on customized searching:
  • New Search Engine for Library Blogs (October 29, 2006): "LisZen is a new customized search engine that searches the content of more than 500 library-related blogs."
  • Customized Search for Intergovernmental Organizations (November 16, 2006): "The people at Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington, Indiana have developed customized search tools for IGOs - intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, the European Union and the UN."
  • Blawg-Finding Tools (November 22, 2006): "Well, the Law Dawg Blawg, created by law librarians at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, describes 'New Tools for Finding Blawgs' in a post from November 18, 2006.The post describes 2 finding aids: the refurbished blawg.com site (...) and the search engine BlawgSearch." The search engine on blawg.com is based on the Google custom search technology.
  • Customized Search For French Legal Material (December 15, 2006): "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."
  • Customized Search Tool for Reference Sites (January 25, 2007): "Bill Drew of the Morrisville State College Library has created a custom search engine that aggregates content from more than 200 reference sites.The sites are those included in the 1999-2006 annual lists issued by the Best of Free Reference Web Sites Committee of the (...) American Library Association... "
  • New Legal Research Engine (February 2, 2006): "The Cornell University Law Library has launched its new Legal Research Engine that helps users find research guides on legal topics from authoritative sources. Authoritative as in Harvard Law, Georgetown, Cornell, Duke, New York University... the top U.S. sources anyway. It is based on the Google Custom Search Engine technology I have discussed in earlier Library Boy posts..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Training Program To Prep Lawyers For Supreme Court

The Globe and Mail's justice reporter Kirk Makin has an article in today's edition of the Toronto daily entitled Rookie lawyers to get 'dry run' at top court that discusses plans for a new training program to help lawyers prepare for the often gruelling appearances in front of the Supreme Court.

It all involves realistic "mock hearings set up to simulate the pressure-cooker atmosphere the novices will face in the Supreme Court".

The project will be called the Supreme Court Advocacy Institute and includes a former Supreme Court justice as well as many top members of Canada's civil and criminal bar who will sit on panels critiquing the presentations of the "trainees".

The executive director of Institute explained that "subjecting novice counsel to the exhilarating, intimidating reality of a top-court hearing will have significant benefits for both novice lawyers and Supreme Court judges who are frequently frustrated by naive or unfocused advocacy".

The Institute will be funded entirely by law firms and law societies. It will have no official ties to the real Supreme Court of Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Supreme Court of Canada Library: January 2007 New Acquisitions

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of January 1-31, 2007 is now available on the Court website.

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 7:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

More Crown Lawyers Appointed As Federal Judges

An article in the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly (vol. 26 no. 37) states that the Conservative government has been appointing a much higher proportion of Crown prosecutors or ex-government lawyers to the superior trial and appellate courts across Canada than its Liberal predecessor.

The article, entitled Conservatives put more Crowns on the federal Bench, explains that some 28 per cent of judicial appointments by the Conservatives have worked for the Crown. This compares to the Liberal record:

"Of the 354 lawyers appointed to the Bench from Jan. 1, 1997, to March 30, 2004, fewer than five per cent were criminal prosecutors and fewer than nine per cent overall were government litigators, according to the judicial appointments secretariat of the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs".

Interestingly, the defence bar is not that concerned as there is no sign that the government is picking biased judges despite controversy over recent changes to the composition of judicial appointments advisory committees which now include cops.

Criminal Lawyers’ Association vice-president Frank Addario is quoted as saying that it is "impossible to predict how people will behave, exclusively based on their professional background, once they become judges".

"What I think they are going to find out, to their disappointment, is that simply appointing Crown counsel is not going to get them the law-and-order agenda implemented (...) In order to find people who meet these ideological criteria ... they would have to engage in a completely politicized appointment process in which ideology becomes the litmus test, not professional qualifications".

Related Library Boy posts about judicial appointments include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, February 05, 2007

New Library of Parliament Publications

The Library of Parliament recently produced 2 new legislative summaries pertaining to bills in front of the Canadian House of Commons:

  • Bill C-18: An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification: "The bill amends the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act, and the National Defence Act to facilitate the implementation of Bill C-13, which was given Royal Assent on 19 May 2005 but has, save for a few sections, not been declared in force. One of the notable features of Bill C-13 is that it expanded the list of offences for which a DNA data bank order can be made."
  • Bill C-44: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act: "The bill repeals section 67 of the federal human rights statute... The CHRA, enacted in 1977, prohibits discriminatory practices on the basis of an exhaustive list of grounds in areas of employment, accommodation and the provision of goods, services or facilities that are customarily available to the public. The CHRA applies to federal legislation, federal government departments, agencies and Crown corporations, and federally regulated businesses and industries such as banking and communications. The sole exception of this nature in the CHRA, section 67 has affected primarily First Nations people governed by the Indian Act, explicitly shielding the federal government and First Nations community governments from complaints of discrimination relating to actions arising from or pursuant to the Indian Act".
More info, including the status of the bills as well as additional background information, can be found on the LEGISinfo website. LEGISinfo provides RSS feeds to track the progress of individual bills:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

Ontario Library Association Superconference Blogs

The OLA Superconference 2007 just ended. It took place January 31-February 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

For those of us who could not attend, there were many bloggers present to provide info and commentary:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:25 pm 1 comments links to this post

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Canadian Class Action Database

The Civil Litigation Section of the Canadian Bar Association has launched a National Class Action Database pilot project.

"The Database seeks to address some of the challenges for the administration of justice and effective management of judicial resources that arise from multi-jurisdictional class actions. These include uncertainty for members of the public who may be presumptively included in more than one class action and subject to conflicting court judgments, uncertainty for counsel as to the size and composition of class membership in any particular class action, and uncertainty for the judiciary as to the class members that are bound by their decisions".

"The Database will be a repository for information about the existence and status of class actions across Canada so that the public, counsel, and courts need only look to one source for this information, and without cost to them" (...)

"The database will list all class actions filed in Canada after January 1 2007 that are sent to the CBA. Once posted, a class action proceeding will remain on the database unless and until it is dismissed as a class action by the court.".

The database is voluntary. It does contain some material going back to 2003.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

More on Finding Legal Research Guides

This is an update to the February 2, 2007 Library Boy post entitled New Legal Research Engine that described a new Legal Research Engine launched by Cornell University to help users find research guides on legal topics from some 20 authoritative sources.

BoleyBlogs!, the blog published by the Law Library at the Lewis and Clark University in Portland, Oregon, has also drawn attention to another meta source for legal research guides: Law Scout from the University of Akron Law School in Ohio. It offers subject access to all the pathfinders and guides from over 130 law schools and other institutions.

It uses the Scout Portal Toolkit developed by the University of Wisconsin.

As with the Cornell search tool, content is U.S.-centric of course.

Creating this kind of custom search engine/portal for Canadian law library guides sounds just like the perfect project for some intrepid Canadian law librarian out there... Hmmm

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

InfoTubey Awards For Best YouTube Library Videos

I caught this on the "M" Word - Marketing Libraries blog.

The publisher Information Today has launched the first InfoTubey Awards to be presented at the 2007 Computers in Libraries Conference in mid-April:

"(T)hese awards recognize those creating YouTube library-related productions. Awards will be presented to the top five productions that demonstrate creativity, humor, and sincerity (of course!) in marketing a library or library services or enhancing the library's value".

People have until February 14 to submit nominations.

Nancy Dowd, a marketing specialist for the New Jersey State Library and the creator of the "M" Word blog, also publishes the blog Library Videos - The Best of... that attempts to gather together and highlight library videos on the Internet.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:19 pm 1 comments links to this post

Pew Project Internet Tagging Report - Implications for Librarians

The December 2006 Pew Internet & American Life Project report on the spread of social or collaborative tagging received a lot of attention this past week.

According to the report, based on a survey of American Internet users:

"28% of internet users have tagged or categorized content online such as photos, news stories or blog posts. On a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorize online content. These people said 'yes' to the following question: 'Please tell me if you ever use the internet to categorize or tag online content like a photo, news story, or a blog post. The wording was designed to capture the growing use of tagging on sites such as http://del.icio.us/ (a site for sharing browser bookmarks), http://www.flickr.com/ (a photo sharing site), http://youtube.com/ (a video sharing site) and http://technorati.com/ (the blog search engine)".

There are comments from The Shifted Librarian and ResourceShelf (quite extensive). ResourceShelf discusses issues such as tagging for non-technical topics, tagging quality for large groups, name authority control, clustering technology (à la Vivisimo/Clusty), spam avoidance...

Also, for background discussions of the strengths and weaknesses of social bookmarking/tagging, in particular for libraries and librarians, I would recommend:

  • Patterns and Inconsistencies in Collaborative Tagging Systems : An Examination of Tagging Practices (Kipp, Margaret E. I. and Campbell, D. Grant. In Proceedings Annual General Meeting of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 2006): "This paper analyzes the tagging patterns exhibited by users of del.icio.us, to assess how collaborative tagging supports and enhances traditional ways of classifying and indexing documents. Using frequency data and co-word analysis matrices analyzed by multi-dimensional scaling, the authors discovered that tagging practices to some extent work in ways that are continuous with conventional indexing. Small numbers of tags tend to emerge by unspoken consensus, and inconsistencies follow several predictable patterns that can easily be anticipated. However, the tags also indicated intriguing practices relating to time and task which suggest the presence of an extra dimension in classification and organization, a dimension which conventional systems are unable to facilitate."
  • Collaborative Tagging as a Knowledge Organisation and Resource Discovery Tool (Macgregor, George and McCulloch, Emma. University of Strathclyde, 2006): "There are numerous difficulties with collaborative tagging systems (e.g. low precision, lack of collocation, etc.) that originate from the absence of properties that characterise controlled vocabularies. However, such systems can not be dismissed. Librarians and information professionals have lessons to learn from the interactive and social aspects exemplified by collaborative tagging systems, as well as their success in engaging users with information management. The future co-existence of controlled vocabularies and collaborative tagging is predicted, with each appropriate for use within distinct information contexts: formal and informal."
  • The Brave New World of Social Bookmarking: Everything You Always Wanted to Know but Were Too Afraid to Ask (Amanda Etches-Johnson. Feliciter, issue #2, 2006): "Yes, folksonomies are inherently flawed. But maybe that’s OK. No one is recommending that we scrap all established taxonomies (like the Library of Congress Subject Headings, for example) in favour of a userdefined folksonomy. There’s no reason why the two couldn’t co-exist harmoniously. The wild notion of adding tagging functionality to a library OPAC is more about enhancing subject access to library materials through tags than it is about replacing existing subject headings with tags."
  • The Hive Mind: Folksonomies and User-Based Tagging (Ellyssa Kroski, Infotangle blog, 2005): "The advantages to top-down hierarchical taxonomies for library collections are without question. For cataloging the Web, however, they just aren’t feasible. The new, 'voice of the people' approach of folksonomies emerges at a time when attitudes about information organization and retrieval are shifting and the technology is developing to support them. The opportunities for learning about user behavior as well as the implications for improving and/or complementing existing taxonomies that these systems can provide are of no small import. We are on the cusp of an exciting new stage of Web growth in which the users provide both meaning and a means of finding through tagging."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:45 am 0 comments links to this post

Friday, February 02, 2007

Reporters Without Borders: Dictators Catch On To Web 2.0

As part of its annual report on world press freedom, the organization Reporters sans frontières/Reporters Without Borders included a section on the use of the Internet by dissidents and human rights activists and the increasing crackdown by repressive authorities:

"Unfortunately, this progress and use of new tools by activists is now being matched by the efforts of dictatorships to fight them. Dictators too have entered the world of Web 2.0."
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic of Internet censorship include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Legal Research Engine

The Cornell University Law Library has launched its new Legal Research Engine that helps users find research guides on legal topics from authoritative sources.

Authoritative as in Harvard Law, Georgetown, Cornell, Duke, New York University... the top U.S. sources anyway.

It is based on the Google Custom Search Engine technology I have discussed in earlier Library Boy posts:
  • New Search Engine for Library Blogs (October 29, 2006): "LisZen is a new customized search engine that searches the content of more than 500 library-related blogs."
  • Customized Search for Intergovernmental Organizations (November 16, 2006): "The people at Indiana University Libraries in Bloomington, Indiana have developed customized search tools for IGOs - intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, the European Union and the UN."
  • Blawg-Finding Tools (November 22, 2006): "Well, the Law Dawg Blawg, created by law librarians at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, describes 'New Tools for Finding Blawgs' in a post from November 18, 2006.The post describes 2 finding aids: the refurbished blawg.com site (...) and the search engine BlawgSearch." The search engine on blawg.com is based on the Google custom search technology.
  • Customized Search For French Legal Material (December 15, 2006): "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."
  • Customized Search Tool for Reference Sites (January 25, 2007): "Bill Drew of the Morrisville State College Library has created a custom search engine that aggregates content from more than 200 reference sites.The sites are those included in the 1999-2006 annual lists issued by the Best of Free Reference Web Sites Committee of the (...) American Library Association... "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Add-Ons For Building the Perfect Browser

PC World tested 46 free add-ons for the Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2 browsers that were designed to "offer safer browsing, easier site sharing, improved searching, faster news gathering, and more".

The gadgets described in the January 30, 2007 article entitled "Build the Perfect Browser" include toolbars, bookmark managers, social browsing extensions (like del.icio.us), security tools, RSS news readers and feed managers, and more.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:03 pm 0 comments links to this post

Trip Down The Tech Memory Lane

ONLINE magazine is celebrating its 30th anniversary in its current issue and Nancy Garman provides a few tech flashbacks from the pages of the publication in her article That Was Then … This Is Now.

She covers the introduction of the CD-ROM, the spread of the browser, metadata and the beginnings of Google.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:03 am 0 comments links to this post

Computers in Libraries Conference Wiki

The 2007 Computers in Libraries conference takes place in mid-April in Arlington, Virginia.

Since the theme is "Beyond Library 2.0: Building Communities, Connections and Strategies", it is not surprising that conference organizers have set up a Computers in Libraries 2007 Wiki.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:39 am 0 comments links to this post

Library Usability Website

The University of Michigan Library has announced the launch of its new website, Usability in the Library.

The website offers open access to reports and working documents produced by the Library's Usability Working Group.

The project descriptions outline the user tests that were conducted as well as the final recommendations to improve websites and/or electronic services.

The website also provides an extensive list of resources on usability, including news, articles, books, usability websites, other library usability sites (with case studies), and podcasts.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:29 am 0 comments links to this post