Sunday, December 30, 2007

Guide to Ontario Courts Relaunched

I received an e-mail from the Judges' Library (Ministry of Justice of Ontario) about the redesign/relaunch of the online Guide to Ontario Courts.

According to the message sent out to law librarians last week, "This revitalized website was reorganized and updated in response to user feedback on content and design, and in consultation with the Office of each court. We have developed what we hope will be a more user friendly website with each court having a unique contemporary visual identity, and new content has been developed."

There are sections for the Court of Appeal, the Superior Court of Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Year-End Review of Tech Law in Canada

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist wrote an article entitled The year in Canadian tech law, A to Z for the Toronto Star last week:
"The past 12 months marked another remarkable year in law and technology featuring business developments, policy decisions, lawsuits, court rulings and new legislation that will have a profound long-term impact on the Internet in Canada. From A to Z, there was rarely a dull moment in 2007."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Nine Library Experts Interviewed on Social Networking Trends

OCLC, an international library service and research organization, interviewed 9 experts on how they see the evolution of social networks.
"While the term social networking may be new, the concepts behind it—creating community, sharing content and collaborating with others—are not. In fact, they have been around for a long time, as early as the time of Plato in 400 B.C., when scholars and philosophers studied and analyzed the formation and interaction of groups of people. What is new is the digital medium, which makes connecting with other people faster, easier and more accessible to a wider population than it’s ever been before. The challenge is how to apply social networking in a digital age to enhance and extend the public service mission of libraries, museums and archives."
The experts are Lori Bell (Alliance Library Systems, Second Life Librarian and Director of Innovation), Edward Castronova (Indiana University, Associate Professor of Telecommunications),Paul Jones (ibiblio.org, Director), Hemanshu Nigam (MySpace, Chief Security Offfice), Kitty Pope (Alliance Library System, Second Life Librarian and Executive Director), Fred Stutzman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph. D. Student), Stuart L. Weibel, Ph. D. (OCLC, Consulting Research Scientist).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Top Web Apps & Sites of 2007

ReadWriteWeb has published its review of the Top Web Apps & Sites of 2007.

The article is divided into sections for:
  • RSS Reader
  • Start Page
  • Tech News
  • Online Music
  • Web Office Suites
  • Project Management
  • Web Email
  • Social News
  • Video, Photos
  • Social Networks / Blogging

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

Friday, December 28, 2007

Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Made Companion of the Order of Canada

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, today named 61 people to the Order of Canada. It is Canada's highest honour for lifetime achievement.

The Honourable Louise Arbour, who was a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1999 to 2004, was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest level of distinction. Prior to her nomination to the Court, Madame Arbour served as chief prosecutor before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. In that capacity, she indicted the Serb President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes, the first time a serving head of State was called to account before an international criminal court.

Since leaving the Court, Madame Arbour has worked as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Other Canadians from the legal field whose appointment to the Order of Canada was announced today include:
  • Alex Neve, Secretary General for Amnesty International Canada, English Speaking Branch
  • The Honourable Patrick J. LeSage, former Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Ontario
  • The Honourable René J. Marin, federal judge considered a pioneer in the use of French in law in Ontario
  • Armand de Mestral, Jean Monnet Chair in the Law of International Economic Integration and Co-Director of the Institute of European Studies (McGill-Université de Montréal)
The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and service in various fields of human endeavour. Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council, chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Privacy Commissioner's New Year's Resolutions

Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart has listed her top 10 New Year's Resolutions on how to protect privacy:
"Threats to the privacy rights of Canadians will intensify in 2008 unless organizations resolve to do more to protect personal information, warns Privacy Commissioner of Canada Jennifer Stoddart."

" 'Heightened national security concerns, the growing business appetite for personal information and technological advances are all potent – and growing – threats to privacy rights,' says Commissioner Stoddart."

" 'The coming year will be another challenging one for privacy in Canada'."

"With that prediction in mind, Commissioner Stoddart today released her 2008 list of top 10 suggested New Year’s resolutions for businesses, individuals and government."
The list:

1) For business
  • Protect personal information with strong security
  • Use encryption to protect personal information on mobile devices such as laptops
  • Ensure credit card processing equipment masks complete card numbers on receipts
2) For individuals
  • Think twice before posting personal information on social networking sites
  • Ask questions when someone asks for personal information
  • Take steps to protect your personal information
3) For the Canadian government
  • Overhaul the no-fly list to ensure strong privacy protections for Canadians
  • Move forward with proposed reforms to Canada’s privacy laws
  • Ensure that identity theft legislation is swiftly passed
  • Develop anti-spam legislation

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Top Library-Related Stories of 2007

LISNews has compiled its list of Ten Stories that Shaped 2007.

Among the list: librarians' continuing obsession with their image, Harry Potter, Yahoo!'s complicity in repression in China, gaming, book scanning with Google, librarians on strike, questions about the future of the OPAC, and the Dewey-less library.

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

A Look Back At Ten Years of Find, Use, Manage, Share

The British information industry newsletter FreePint is celebrating its 10th year of existence and in its most recent issue, it takes a look at 1997-2007: A Decade of Find, Use, Manage, Share:
"On the evolutionary scale, 10 years isn't even a blip, not a blink, not a breath in. It's hardly anything at all. But on the information scale, especially in the years from 1997 to 2007, a decade is a new mountain range, a new species, a new world".

"FreePint has been covering this evolution revolution from tip to tail, keeping up with changes in the business information industry as they've happened. Now, as we celebrate our 10th birthday, we've invited four top experts in their fields of finding, using, managing and sharing information to explain what these changes mean from a distance".

"By the time you read this, the landscape is likely to have evolved again - who knows what earthshaking ideas are rippling forth? Until then, here are the hottest trends in the last 10 years. We'll keep an eye on the seismograph while you read".

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Gerald Eric Le Dain Passes Away

The Honourable Gerald Eric Le Dain, formerly a justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, passed away in Toronto on December 18, 2007.

He served on the Supreme Court between 1984 and 1988.

From the official Court press release:
"Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, on behalf of the members of the Supreme Court of Canada, lamented Justice Le Dain's passing, 'Justice Le Dain served on the Court during an important time in its history, taking part in the challenge of breathing life into the rights guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Justice Le Dain's decisions in these early Charter cases shaped the interpretation of our fundamental rights, and continue to have relevance to this day. Members and staff of the Court extend their deepest condolences to Justice Le Dain's family'. "
He is especially well-known for having led a landmark commission of inquiry into the recreational use of drugs in Canada from 1969 to 1973. The Le Dain Commission's report recommended marijuana possession be decriminalized. The Archives of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation contain footage about the Commission.

The 2002 final report of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs provides historical context for understanding the Le Dain Commission in its ch. 12 entitled The National Legislative Context (see the section entitled "The Le Dain Commission (1969-1973)").

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Big Legal Stories of 2007

In its Dec. 21, 2007 issue, The Lawyers Weekly devotes a special section to reviewing the major news stories of 2007 in the legal field.

Perhaps the biggest story of the year is the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that has fundamentally changed Canadian society (see Library Boy posts Survey on Canadian Attitudes Regarding Charter of Rights, Feb. 8, 2007; Articles on 25th Anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, April 6, 2007; Top Ten Charter Cases, April 14, 2007).

The Lawyers Weekly article draws attention to a number of major Charter-related cases from 2007:
Among legal trends, the article notes the return with a vengeance of the class action suit, the creation by the Canadian Bar Association of a task force on conflicts of interest, and questions about self-regulation of the legal profession.

Toronto lawyer James Lockyer is given special mention in the article. Lockyer, of course, is known for his dogged advocacy on behalf of the wrongfully convicted and 2007 was a year that witnessed the conclusion of a number of inquiries that exonerated innocent people whose lives had been destroyed by miscarriages of justice (see the Library Boy posts James Driskell Wrongful Conviction Report, February 16, 2007; 50 Years Later, Truscott Murder Conviction Deemed 'Miscarriage of Justice', August 28, 2007; Start of Inquiry Into Actions of Disgraced Pathologist, November 12, 2007).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Should Legal Blogs Be Seen As Scholarship?

That is the title of an article in the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly that canvasses the opinions of various Canadian legal scholars on just where blogs fit in.

According to Bruce Archibald, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, blogs "are a source of ideas which would have to be acknowledged in a footnote if quoted. On the other hand, they are not peer reviewed and would not have the added cachet or weight of that status."

Philip Bryden, dean of law at the University of New Brunswick, acknowledges that blogs offer "timely publication and ease of accessibility", but adds, "During my tenure as dean ... none of my colleagues has brought their blogging activity into the scholarly assessment process at UNB, but that is not to say it will not happen in the future."

However, University of Calgary law school dean Alastair Lucas argues that blog contributions can be scholarship. The law school is creating a blog dealing with Alberta courts and tribunals and those contributions "will require theory development, synthesis, analysis and clear argumentation (...) We also expect that some blog pieces will be expanded into law review articles and the like. Strictly, these are not peer reviewed, in the law journal sense, but they will be reviewed and edited in the faculty under the supervision of senior faculty members."

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • 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. 'Interestingly, the open access publishing model has not yet become as popular in legal scholarship as in other fields. Why has legal scholarship lagged in the open access publishing movement? Should law schools, who do the most to fund both the production and publication of legal scholarship, push toward an open access publishing approach?' "
  • Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update (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."
  • More Law Journals Adding Blog Companions (April 20, 2007): "A number of law journals are now leveraging weblog technology to present information and commentary online. Some are offering online weblog 'digests' which supplement the traditional printed journal, while others are solely online. The common thread (...) is a desire for a more timely forum to comment on new developments in the journal's area of coverage"
  • Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship in an Online Age (July 24, 2007): "Paul Horwitz, a visiting professor at the Notre Dame Law School, has recently published a paper on the open access Social Science Research Network entitled 'Evaluate Me!': Conflicted Thoughts on Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship's New Age: «Bloggers, SSRN, and online law review supplements like this one have increasingly routed around and weakened, if not undermined, the traditional gatekeepers who certified legal scholars and their scholarship. Is this a good thing?» "
  • Is the Future of Legal Scholarship in the Blogosphere? (September 5, 2007): "That is the question asked in an article published last week in the Legal Times (...) «If you are looking for the future of legal scholarship, chances are that you may find it not in a treatise or the traditional law review but in a different form, profoundly influenced by the blogosphere (...) the legal blogosphere tends to be populated by midcareer professors who have tenure, are intimately familiar with traditional legal scholarship and see the Internet as a way to reach more readers in a less ritualized format» "

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

Monday, December 17, 2007

RCMP Drug Situation Report 2006

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) today released the Drug Situation Report – 2006.

It is prepared by the RCMP’s Criminal Intelligence Program and describes the illicit drug trade in Canada in 2006.

There are 2 new sections in this annual overview:
  • Drug-generated Proceeds: "This section discusses the estimated lost revenue to organized crime of the drugs seized by law enforcement. The potential revenues are based on the known street-level dollar values assigned to the various drugs as reported across the country (...) In 2006, the total potential proceeds of drug seizures amounted to $2.3 billion (...) For the purpose of this analysis, the lowest street prices were used to calculate the proceeds."
  • Emerging Trends: "As drug law enforcement efforts continue to improve, more drugs are intercepted worldwide. In response, organized crime groups have developed new trafficking routes, exploiting areas of political instability and disorganization, corruption and poor governance in order to ship their products to international markets. There are indications that drug traffickers, particularly those involved with the cocaine and heroin trades, have targeted Africa as a new transhipment point for shipments bound for North America and Europe. Another trend which has arisen concerns the alteration of existing drugs, by adding new ingredients or developing new processing methods. Blending or cutting drugs with these new additives can potentially increase the addictive properties of the drugs, thereby increasing demand and raising profit margins."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Pew Internet & American Life Project Study on Online Identity Management

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has released a new report on the increasing number of digital traces people are leaving all over the Internet as they post, blog and create profiles on social networking and sharing sites like Facebook and Flickr.

The report is entitled Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency and looks at how the landscape has been changing rapidly as well as the many challenges this creates for how people juggle the balance between participation online and protecting their privacy.
"The more content we contribute to the public or semi-public corners of the Web, the more we grow our active digital footprint. These are the traces of data we contribute voluntarily, often in specific contexts with specific audiences in mind. However, digital data is easily disembodied from the original context in which it was created—obscuring indicators such as time, place, and intended audience. A contentious comment posted as part of a debate taking place on a community association blog may be written with neighbors in mind, but may in fact be viewed by a range of friends, family or professional colleagues for years after it is published, and not necessarily understood in its original context. At the same time, positive outcomes can and do occur as the result of our growing active digital footprint. Estranged family members find one another after years of separation, former flames reunite, and employers can learn about a job candidate’s volunteer work. Stories of positive and negative consequences such as these follow in later sections of the report."
The press release accompanying the report contains a short summary of the major findings.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Federal Report Recommends Radical Changes to RCMP

On Friday, a special federal task force unveiled the conclusions of its report into the many structural problems at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The report proposes major structural changes in Canada's national police force, including:
  • separating the force from the government
  • creating a new civilian board of managers to oversee its finances, resources, personnel and properties
  • creating a new independent commission with the power to deal with complaints, launch its own investigations and summon witnesses and compel testimony
The task force consulted widely and heard many complaints from RCMP rank and file police officers on issues such as understaffing, chronic fatigue, equipment shortages and inefficient management.

2007 has not been kind to the RCMP. The year saw another very negative report about mismanagement of the RCMP pension and insurance plans, the resignation of RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli over incorrect testimony to a parliamentary committee, the recent shooting deaths in the line of duty of two officers working in short-staffed and remote detachments in the Far North, and the death from a Taser stun gun of an unarmed Polish immigrant at the hands of RCMP officers at Vancouver International Airport in October.

More coverage:
  • RCMP commissioner promises sweeping changes (CanWest News Service, December 15, 2007): "Commissioner William Elliott on Friday promised sweeping changes at the RCMP, including a senior management shakeup, after a governance task force recommended the Mounties be given more independence from government and be overseen by a civilian board (...) The task force, chaired by former Ontario Securities Commission chief David Brown, was appointed by the Harper government on July 16, the same day that Elliott was appointed the first civilian commissioner in the RCMP's history. It was asked to provide advice on accountability and governance at the troubled police force, which has been rocked by a series of scandals in recent years, including the Maher Arar affair and the mismanagement of pension and insurance funds. Brown said the force needs to be freed from the layers of government bureaucracy that have piled up over the years."
  • RCMP 'despair' demands top-to-bottom overhaul (Globe and Mail, December 15, 2007): "Massive structural changes are needed to rehabilitate the 133-year-old national force, including granting the organization separate employer status from government, the adoption of a civilian oversight board and the creation of a new, more powerful independent complaints authority, according to a report from the five-member panel convened to help overhaul the RCMP. During its five-month investigation, the panel encountered 'fierce pride in the force' paired with 'despair, disillusionment and anger with an organization that is failing them,' said David Brown, a Toronto lawyer who chaired the group. 'With remarkable but disturbing consistency, we heard of chronic shortages of people and equipment, of overwork and fatigue, of issues of wellness, health and even safety,' he said. 'We learned about basic human management systems that haven't worked for years: mandatory unpaid overtime; discipline and grievance systems that don't work; a promotion system with little or no credibility; a sometimes embarrassing record of accounting to the people they serve'."
  • Dramatic restructuring of RCMP urged in report (Toronto Star): "If enacted by the Conservative government, the 61-page report released yesterday would radically change the way the country's national police force is run. The RCMP, after 134 years of operating in insular, hierarchical, paramilitary fashion, would have to answer to new bosses. Civilian watchdogs and managers would have final say in how the Mounties spend money, deal with staff and, ultimately, police themselves. 'A modern-day RCMP will shed its cloak of secrecy while protecting the fundamental rights of Canadian citizens ... and rebuild trust through greater transparency,' the report said. 'We now have a plan to fundamentally fix the RCMP and restore trust in this institution – but the path we have laid out is not for the faint of heart.' The prescription is drastic, but civilian Commissioner William Elliott welcomed it as 'an important turning point'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Presentations of October 2007 LibQUAL+ Conference on Service Quality Evaluation

Back on July 6, 2007, I had mentioned the October 2007 LibQUAL+ Conference on Performance Measurements in Libraries.

The Supreme Court of Canada library has started using LibQual+, an electronic suite of data evaluation tools that libraries can use to track users' opinions of service quality.

A few of my colleagues attended the conference that took place here in Ottawa, Ontario on October 24-25 , 2007.

I had forgotten to come back to the topic and to mention that the conference presentations are available online.

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

Saturday, December 15, 2007

RCMP Told To Curb Taser Use

Earlier this week, Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, released an interim report outlining recommendations for the government on the Mounties' use of the Taser stun guns.

The Commission is an independent civilian agency.

Kennedy's report does not call for a moratorium on the weapon. However, it concludes that the federal police force needs to limit its use, increase training for officers and conduct more research on its effects.

The report comes in the wake of the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski on October 14, 2007. He died after four RCMP officers zapped him with a Taser at least two times in the Vancouver International Airport. The weapon discharges 50,000 volts into the target's body.

The report noted "usage creep". At first, Taser use was restricted to subduing individuals who resisted arrest, were combative or were suicidal. But officers have begun using the weapons in other non-threatening situations.

The report makes 10 recommendations:

  • allow Taser use only in those situations where an individual is behaving in a manner classified as being "combative" or posing a risk of "death or grievous bodily harm" to the officer, themselves or the general public.
  • only use Tasers where an individual appears to be experiencing the condition(s) of excited delirium when the behaviour is combative or poses a risk of death or grievous bodily harm to the officer, the individual or the general public.
  • immediately communicate this change in use of force classification to all members.
  • immediately redesign the training members receive
  • immediately amend the Taser policy by instituting the requirement that re-certification occur every two years.
  • immediately appoint a National Use of Force Coordinator tomonitor compliance with national policies, procedures and training for all use of force techniques and equipment
  • immediately institute and enforce stricter reporting requirements Taser use to ensure that appropriate records are completed and forwarded to the national data base after every use of the weapon.
  • produce a Quarterly Report on the use of Tasers
  • produce an Annual Report on the use of Tasers that will be distributed to the Minister of Public Safety, the Commissioner of the RCMP, the Chair of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP and all Commanding Officers in each Division.
  • continue to be engaged in Taser-related research looking at medical, legal and social aspects of the weapon's use.
For background, see:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

The European Union adopted a Charter of Fundamental Rights this week.

The text of the Charter as well as explanatory notes are available from the Official Journal of the European Union.

The Charter is part of the new Treaty of Lisbon, signed on Thursday by the 27 EU member countries.

The Treaty introduces a number of reforms to speed up the decision-making process within EU institutions. As well, the current EU presidency, a position that currently rotates among member states, will be replaced soon with a president of the Council of the European Union, and the EU will create the position of foreign policy high representative.

More from the European Union website and from the European Law Network.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

More Words of the Year 2007

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 3, 2007 entitled Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year.

The Oxford Dictionary's word of the year is "locavore". The only word relating to law that made the top 10 list is the verb "to tase", to shoot with the electrical discharge pistol or Taser.

Other English-language dictionaries have come out with their selections:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Report on Transition to E-Journals

The Association of Research Libraries recently released a report entitled The E-only Tipping Point for Journals: What's Ahead in the Print-to-Electronic Transition Zone on the transition from dual-format publishing toward electronic-only publication of journals.

The Association represents 123 research/academic libraries in the U.S. and Canada.

The report examines both the library and the publisher perspective on what is driving and/or holding back the transition to full e-publication of journals.
"While reports of the death of the printed journal are premature, its role in the institutional marketplace faces a steep decline in the coming 5 to10 years. As use and norms evolve, print journals will exist mainly to address specialized needs or business opportunities. Financial imperatives will draw libraries first—and ultimately most publishers also—toward a tipping point where it no longer makes sense to subscribe to or publish printed versions of most journals. For libraries a 100% electronic journals environment is remote, but 95% could be on the horizon. A more mixed picture is likely for publishers, especially societies and advertising-driven journals".

"(...) But financial disincentives to keeping print ultimately will outweigh dwindling demand and squeeze out all but the most popular or tactile of titles. As generational change leaves its mark and a critical mass of electronic resources (including books and primary documents) reach the desktops of users and bring productivity gains in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, resistance will dwindle".

"At the same time, as the aggregate number of print subscriptions drops, the relative cost of supporting each of them will increase and raise the threshold for justifying their continuance. The change may be more rapid in state institutions than in better-funded private institutions, but ultimately all academic libraries will follow suit to a greater or lesser extent".

"As libraries moves toward e-only, publishers will see print subscriptions increasingly limited to individuals—the least lucrative element of the base. They will be driven to rationalize their investments in declining print revenue streams and to finance investments in e-publishing infrastructure and emerging opportunities. Some will be faster to do so, such as those already straining from the cost burden. Others will be slower, such as those with a self-supporting base of individual subscribers or significant advertising revenue from print".

"(...) On campus and in the market, the move 'from ownership to access' will approach completion in the coming decade. A new focus will emerge on productivity rather than custom in scholarly communication. Experiments will explore new business models and new ways of conducting and facilitating research. Along the way, vexing issues such as those surrounding assurance of long-term access to the scholarly record will continue to be sorted out and perhaps even solved".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Disgraced U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Named Lawyer of the Year By ABA Journal

The ABA Journal, the flagship publication of the American Bar Association, has named disgraced former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Lawyer of the Year for 2007:

"The top legal story of 2007 was unquestionably the unraveling of support for the Bush administration’s expansive view of presidential power during wartime, and with it, the slow-motion destruction of Alberto Gonzales’ reign as U.S. attorney general. Add to that the controversy over whether the administration fired eight U.S. attorneys for political reasons, and no single lawyer made more news in 2007 than Gonzales".
And there was also that little thing about the White House "torture memos" he wrote, the ones where the called the Geneva Conventions "quaint".

More on the legacy of Gonzales from the JURIST legal website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More On Anniversary of 1997 Delgamuukw Case on Aboriginal Title

Yesterday, I published a post about the the 10th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court of Canada decision known as Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010, considered a huge turning point in aboriginal law in Canada.

Entitled This Day in Supreme Court of Canada History: The 1997 Delgamuukw Case on Aboriginal Title , the post linked to an article on the Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court by Peter R. Grant, who acted as lead counsel for the First Nations involved in the case.

Today, The Court published an account of the case from the point of view of another participant, Bryan Williams, lead counsel for the Province of British Columbia at the Court of Appeal: Delgamuukw at 10: An Insider’s Tale

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Volume One of Air India Terrorist Attack Report Presented to Parliament

Volume One of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 was tabled yesterday in the Canadian Parliament.

In the early morning of June 23rd, 1985, Air India Flight 182 flying from Canada to New Delhi was blown apart from a bomb planted by terrorists in Canada, killing all 329 passengers and crew on board. The overwhelming majority of those murdered were Canadian citizens. It is the largest loss of life in Canadian history from a single terrorist attack.

Titled The Families Remember, the Report gives a voice to the loved ones of the victims of Flight 182, those who assisted them, and others directly affected.

In September 2006, the Canadian government launched the Commission of Inquiry to answer unsolved questions about the police investigation into the attack. It is being led by former Supreme Court of Canada Justice John Major, who will issue his final report in the spring of 2008.

Press coverage:
  • Victims' stories find voice in Air India report (Toronto Star, December 12, 2007): "The Irish rescuer who held a dead baby's cheek next to his, the surviving son who lost his father in the explosion and then lost his grief-stricken mother to suicide, and the promising medical student whose life was stolen from her. Those are among the stories recounted in an interim report from the inquiry into the 1985 Air India disaster released yesterday. The report concentrates on the tales of those affected. Early in the hearings, commission chair John Major promised that the stories of the victims' families would find a place in the official record of the inquiry – a pledge fulfilled by the interim report."
  • Air India families felt 'isolated' by Canadian government: inquiry report (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, December 11, 2007): "Grief-stricken families who lost loved ones in the Air India bombing felt the Canadian government did little to help them after the 1985 tragedy, an interim report from the Air India inquiry finds (...) 'A question that lingers among the families and other Canadians is, ''If Air India Flight 182 had been an Air Canada flight with all fair-skinned Canadians, would the government response have been different?'' ' wrote John Major, the head of the Air India inquiry, in the introduction of his report."
  • Air India report recounts victims' stories (Globe and Mail, December 11, 2007): "Indira Kalsi was 21 years old in June 1985. She wanted to be a pharmacy assistant and had expressed the hope that she would one day dispense free medication to the underprivileged people in India. Nayudamma Yevarthy was an internationally renowned scientist, government adviser and academic who was a strong proponent of national economic development and an innovator in the leather sector. Ms. Kalsi and Mr. Yelevarthy had little in common until June 22, 1985. Both perished that day, along with 327 other people — most of them Canadians of Indian decent — when a terrorist's bomb took down Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:06 pm 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This Day in Supreme Court of Canada History: The 1997 Delgamuukw Case on Aboriginal Title

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court of Canada decision on aboriginal rights known as Delgamuukw v. British Columbia, [1997] 3 S.C.R. 1010.

For the first time, the Court directly addressed the issue of aboriginal title.

The Gitxsan Nation and the Wet’suwet’en Nation in British Columbia had started a lawsuit in 1984. Their claim covered 133 individual territories, amounting to 58,000 square kilometres of the northwestern part of their province. They claimed both ownership of the land and jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court did not rule as to whether the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en have aboriginal title to the lands they claimed. The court said that this issue could not be decided without a new trial.

But the decision confirmed that aboriginal title is a right to the land itself — not just the right to hunt, fish or gather — and that when dealing with Crown land, the government must consult with and may have to compensate First Nations whose rights are affected. Furthermore, aboriginal title has the additional protection of being a constitutional right.

The Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court has published an article to mark the case's anniversary. Entitled The Anniversary of Delgamuukw v. The Queen: Two Legacies, it is written by Peter R. Grant, who acted as lead counsel for the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en chiefs.

Further analysis of the decision can be found here:
  • A Community Guide to Delgamuukw (Delgamuukw Gisday'wa National Process - extensive collection of resources relating to the Delgamuukw decision designed for First Nations): "On December 11, 1997 the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia. The decision marked the first time that the Supreme Court had ruled that the concept of Aboriginal title existed (...) But what was the essence of what the court said? The Supreme Court laid out a number of principles relating to the following issues: Use of oral history to prove Aboriginal title; The test for proving Aboriginal title; The content of Aboriginal title; Government's ability to infringe Aboriginal title; The province's ability to extinguish Aboriginal title; The governments' duty in negotiations. Let's look at these one by one. "
  • Aboriginal Title: The Supreme Court of Canada Decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia (Library of Parliament, 2000): "In December 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a groundbreaking ruling containing its first definitive statement on the content of Aboriginal title in Canada. The decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia also describes the scope of protection afforded Aboriginal title under subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982; defines how Aboriginal title may be proved; and outlines the justification test for infringements of Aboriginal title. This paper provides a summary review of selected noteworthy findings in the Supreme Court decision on Aboriginal title. The review is preceded by background information on common law Aboriginal title and the constitutionalization of Aboriginal rights by subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, concepts that meet in the Delgamuukw ruling. The prior judgments of the British Columbia courts are also briefly canvassed."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 10, 2007

CanLII Offers Sorting By "Most Cited Case"

CanLII, the open access source of Canadian legal information supported by law societies and bar associations across Canada, has just released a new search feature:

"In your search results, you are now able to sort cases based on the number of times a case has been cited. You can do so by clicking on the 'The most cited' link in the 'Sort' menu of your search results page. By choosing 'Sort by The most cited' the search engine will display the most frequently cited cases first".

"Each result indicates the number of times the case has been cited. You will notice that the number of times a case has been cited is also an active link. By following that link, you will access a list of the citing cases".

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

Upcoming Special Journal Issue on Science and the Courts

I was contacted a little while ago by e-mail by someone from the University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal about their upcoming Special Issue on Science and the Courts.

Here is the message:
"The University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal invites original scholarly articles for a special issue on Science and the Courts to be published in 2008. The University of Ottawa Law & Technology Journal (UOLTJ) is an open access, bilingual (English and French), faculty-run, peer-reviewed academic journal devoted to scholarly articles on law and technology. The special issue on Science and the Courts seeks to include a broad range of subject areas and perspectives and seeks representation from authors drawn from science, law (including judges, lawyers, and academics), and related disciplines. Suggested topics include electronic evidence, the role of the expert witness, novel science and the courts, the specialized court, patent litigation, nanotechnology, legal history of science and the courts, product liability, juries and science, DNA, science and mass torts, neutral science advisors to a court, and the interaction between emerging scientific research and legal precedent on cases involving science. The Journal is also open to considering submissions on any other aspect of the intersection between science and the courts. The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2008".

"General Issues: The Journal also continues to invite submissions of original scholarly articles in English or in French for publication in its peer-reviewed general issues, which will be considered on a rolling basis. For its general issues, the Journal is interested in work on all aspects of the field of law and technology, regardless of the type of technology, substantive area of law at issue, or theoretical or philosophical focus. The Journal considers scholarship on the intersection of law with established or emerging technologies in any field, such as computer, internet and e-commerce law; privacy; intellectual property; technology and ethics; communications, entertainment, and social media; natural sciences; traditional knowledge; evidence; cybercrime; security; internet governance; and e-government. The Journal publishes articles on law and technology written by scholars from a range of disciplines and encourages submissions of interdisciplinary work. All articles submitted to the Journal are evaluated through a peer review process before being accepted for publication".

"The Journal publishes two peer-reviewed issues annually and is available both in print and electronic formats. The current and past contents of the UOLTJ are freely available online on the Journal's websites, http://www.uoltj.ca/ (in English) and www.rdtuo.ca (in French). The Journal is also carried in HeinOnline, LexisNexis, Westlaw, and LexisNexis Quicklaw, and indexed in the Index to Canadian Legal Literature, the Index to Canadian Intellectual Property Literature, and OpenJ-Gate. In addition, the full-text of the Journal is available on the Social Science Research Network, the Directory of Open Access Journals and the digital collection of the Library and Archives Canada. As a member of Open Access Law Canada, the UOLTJ has made a firm commitment to advancing the free public accessibility of legal information. The Journal's publication agreement is available for consultation on the website http://www.uoltj.ca/copyright.php. In addition to publishing in an open access format, the Journal supports the use of free public online sources of legislation and case law by including citations to public online sources".
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic 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."
  • Articles on Scientific Evidence in Newest Issue of Judicature (December 5, 2006): "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."
  • How Far Should Judges Go In Researching Science? (January 29, 2007): "In a recent article, Jacqueline Cantwell, who works at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Law Library in the U.S., raises some important issues about how much independent research judges should be allowed to conduct when trying cases involving complex scientific evidence."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 08, 2007

New Canadian Judicial Council Report on Improving Court Administration

The Canadian Judicial Council has published a new report entitled Administering Justice for the Public on how to improve the efficiency of judicial administration in Canada:
"In 2003, the Canadian Judicial Council (CJC) decided to examine how courts could best advance both goals of court administration. Could Courts, in other words, be run in a way that will enhance their effectiveness, efficiency, and accountability on the one hand, while enhancing impartial and independent decision-making on the other? The CJC concluded that these twin goals can best be advanced by moving from an Executive-led model of Court Administration to a model of limited autonomy for self-governing Courts (which will be called the 'judicial responsibility' model) (...)"

"Canadian Courts are already moving in the direction of more judicial responsibility. Since 2002, the Canadian federal Courts have been administered by an independent government agency. In Ontario, since the early 1990s, the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice and the Attorney General have operated under a Memorandum of Understanding which gives the Chief Justice responsibility over a portion of the Court’s budget. Similar arrangements exist in different courts in Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta. In Quebec, the Court of Appeal of Québec and the Court of Québec each have been delegated by the Government significant autonomy in administrative decision-making. In other provinces, such as Manitoba and Newfoundland & Labrador, Court Management Councils comprised of judges and Government officials consult on shared concerns relating to Court administration".

"In light of the Canadian experience and that of other peer jurisdictions, the judicial responsibility model represents the best alternative for improving the quality and delivery of judicial services in Canadian Courts, and enhancing public trust and confidence in the judicial system, while preserving judicial impartiality and independence".
The CJC was created in 1971. Its role is to improve the quality of judicial service in all superior courts in Canada. It is composed of the chief justices and associate chief justices of Canada's superior courts. The Council is chaired by The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, Chief Justice of Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:40 pm 1 comments links to this post

New Blog About Law Firm Intranets

Nina Platt, a former law librarian who is the author of the blog, Strategic Librarian, has launched a second blog called The Law Firm Intranet that will cover issues such as Intranet/portal design and redesign, benchmarking, planning, implementing and managing.

[Source: The Virtual Chase legal research blog]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thoughts of a Supreme Court Justice on Deference in Judicial Review

At a recent Administrative Law conference organized in November by the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louis LeBel made a presentation entitled Some Properly Deferential Thoughts on Deference:
"An understanding of the reasons for and operation of deference in judicial review proceedings is important for both theoretical and practical reasons. At the level of theory, exploring the notion of deference provides insight into the purpose of judicial review and its constitutional roots. The concept of deference assists us in defining the relationship between courts and other decision making bodies. As I will explain, deference is central to understanding the situation of the various decision makers in our constitutional model, both judicial and non-judicial. Our legal system, which I would describe as one of legal pluralism, is one that is only possible if judges adhere to a proper conception of deference and its role in judicial review".

"In this regard, exploring the notion of deference also has practical relevance. Courts must understand their duties when performing deferential review; administrative decision makers must know what actions will be respected by courts and what exercises of power will be scrutinized; and counsel must be aware, when bringing judicial review applications, of the aspects of a decision or its process that demand judicial attention".
In his presentation, Justice LeBel explains the Supreme Court of Canada’s evolving view of the role of administrative bodies (regulators, municipalities, boards, tribunals) and its approach on how to achieve a balance between the need for both judicial review of administrative action and restraint in its exercise.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

Council of Europe Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings

The Council of Europe website has a subsection about its campaign to combat trafficking in human beings.

On the site, one can find Council of Europe legal conventions against trafficking in human beings, press releases, conference and seminar proceedings and publications on the issue.

There are also links to regulations, conventions and legal texts from other international organizations (European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, International Labour Organization).

The Council is holding an international seminar on trafficking in human beings in London on 10-11 December. Trafficking in human beings is a worldwide phenomenon often linked to organized crime. According to the International Labour Organization, every year up to 2.45 million people worldwide are victims of trafficking.

The Council of Europe is the continent's oldest political organization, founded in 1949. It groups together 47 countries, including many countries from Central and Eastern Europe, and it has granted observer status to five other countries (the Holy See, United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico). The Council of Europe is distinct from the European Union, but no country has ever joined the Union without first belonging to the Council of Europe.

Earlier Library Boy posts on human trafficking include:
  • Criminal Intelligence Service 2006 Annual Report on Organized Crime (August 19, 2006): "The Service coordinates the criminal intelligence units of Canadian law enforcement agencies at the federal and provincial levels of government (...) Organized crime activities involve production and distribution of narcotics, firearms smuggling, vehicle theft, financial fraud, identity theft, counterfeiting, human trafficking and money laundering."
  • New Library of Parliament Publications (October 6, 2006): "Trafficking in Persons: 'The United Nations estimates that 700,000 people are trafficked annually worldwide – this is a fluid figure that is difficult to pin down (...) This paper will discuss the concept of trafficking in general terms and provide an overview of the legislative framework surrounding the issue at the international level and within the Canadian context. It will conclude with a discussion of potential gaps in Canadian legislation and policy with respect to trafficking in persons'."
  • New Library of Parliament Research Publications (February 18, 2007): "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 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report [U.S. State Department] 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'."
  • Library of Parliament Legislative Summary on Immigration Bill (June 19, 2007): "The Bill proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow immigration officers to refuse to authorize foreign nationals to work in Canada if they are judged to be at risk of exploitation or trafficking."
  • Annual U.S. State Department Report on Human Trafficking (June 27, 2007): "The State Department of the United States has been producing an annual report since the year 2000 called the Trafficking in Persons Report. It reports on foreign governments' efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons (...) According to the country section on Canada: 'Canada is principally a transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women and children are trafficked mostly from Asia and Eastern Europe for sexual exploitation, but victims from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East also have been identified in Canada'."
  • New U.S. Reports on Human Trafficking (August 1, 2007): "The Government Accountability Office in the United States recently published 2 reports on human trafficking"
  • International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (December 2, 2007): "Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library of the United Nations has put together a web page with resources on contemporary forms of human trafficking."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:36 pm 1 comments links to this post

Friday, December 07, 2007

Global Corruption Barometer 2007 Reveals Major Problems Worldwide With Police and Judiciary

In its fifth edition, the Global Corruption Barometer 2007 summarizes citizens’ perceptions and experiences of corruption and bribery in 60 countries around the world.

The 2007 Barometer polled 63,000 people and was carried out by Gallup International on behalf of Transparency International, an international NGO based in Berlin:

" 'The Barometer reveals that the police and the judiciary in many countries around the world are part of a cycle of corruption, demanding bribes from citizens,' said Transparency International Managing Director, Cobus de Swardt. 'This troubling finding means that corruption is interfering with the basic right to equal treatment before the law'.

"Transparency International has been campaigning strongly this year against corruption in the judiciary, based on its Global Corruption Report 2007. This report details how bribery affects the courts – judges and other judicial personnel accept bribes to delay or accelerate cases, to allow or deny an appeal, or to decide a case in a certain way. The Global Corruption Report 2007 also includes data from a 2002 survey showing, for instance, that 96 per cent of respondents in Pakistan who had contact with the lower courts encountered corrupt practices, while in Russia, an estimated US $210 million in bribes is thought to be paid in courts each year".
Among the findings:
  • About one in ten people around the world had to pay a bribe in the past year; reported bribery has increased in some regions, such as Asia-Pacific and South East Europe.
  • Bribery is particularly widespread in interactions with the police, the judiciary and registry and permit services.
  • The general public believes political parties, parliament, the police and the judicial/legal system are the most corrupt institutions in their societies.
  • Half of those interviewed – and significantly more than four years ago – expect corruption in their country to increase in the next three years, with some African countries the exception.
  • Half of those interviewed also think that their governments' efforts to fight corruption are ineffective.
The Transparency International website provides links to some of the news coverage of the Barometer.

On June 8, 2007, I published a post entitled International Report on Judicial Corruption that described the findings of the organization's Global Corruption Report 2007:

"This year's report takes a close look at judicial corruption around the world. Judicial corruption can involve outright bribery or political interference in the judicial process (...) 'TI’s latest global survey of attitudes towards corruption reveals that in more than twenty-five countries, at least one in ten households had to pay a bribe to get access to justice. In a further twenty countries, more than three in ten households reported that bribery was involved in securing access to justice or a 'fair' outcome in court. In Albania, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Peru, Taiwan and Venezuela, the figure was even higher'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

UK Government Wants To Detain Terrorism Suspects For Up To 42 Days

This is a follow-up to the November 15, 2007 Library Boy post entitled Comparative Study: How Long Can Terrorist Suspects Be Held Without Charge?.

That post described a study by the UK civil liberties group Liberty that looked at the maximum period for which terrorist suspects can be held without charge in 15 countries, including Canada. The study concluded that British practice exceeds that of other democratic nations.

Yesterday, the legal news site JURIST reported that the UK government proposes 42-day detention without charge limit for terror suspects, up from the current maximum of 28 days.

More background:
  • Smith plays the numbers game (BBC): "If you've ever read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy you might remember the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. It was 42. We never found out what the question was, of course. That was the joke. It took a supercomputer designed by a race of pan dimensional aliens seven-and-a-half million years to come up with the answer. In trying to fix a time limit for holding a terror suspect without charge, it took Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, rather less time to come up with hers."
  • Smith faces fight to raise detention limit in terror cases (The Independent): "Jacqui Smith faces a desperate struggle to avoid defeat in Parliament over new plans to lock up terrorist suspects without charge for up to 42 days. The Home Secretary provoked a civil liberties storm and anger among opposition parties as she announced a fresh move to increase the current 28-day maximum. Ms. Smith has backed off from earlier proposals for a 56-day limit and promised the Government would only ask for 42-day detention in extreme circumstances. But parliamentary opposition began building against the controversial move immediately after its announcement. The Government will face a knife-edge vote on the plans in the Commons and looks likely to be defeated in the Lords. The votes are expected to take place within two months (...) In a further sign of the political pressure she faces, Ms. Smith has been summoned back before the Labour-controlled Commons Home Affairs Select Committee to justify the move. It has already made clear its objection to increasing the 28-day limit after a majority of witnesses to the committee – including the Director of Public Prosecutions – opposed any extension."
  • Ministers struggle as plan to increase detention limit to 42 days attracts new round of criticism (The Guardian): "The government's attempt to extend the period for which terror suspects can be detained without charge appeared to be foundering last night as its many critics remained bitterly opposed (...) Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, accused the home secretary of wasting 'so much goodwill and months of so-called consensus building on national security'. Provisions for parliamentary oversight were weak, and for judicial oversight inadequate. But the proposals were welcomed by Ken Jones, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers. He said: 'There is a pressing need to consider now the best way of responding to cases likely to arise in the future where the complexities of gathering evidence mean the current limit of 28 days would prove insufficient'."
  • Rebels unmoved by limit for terror detentions (The Telegraph): "Labour MPs who rebelled against a previous move for a 90-day limit signalled that they would stage another revolt. Even the police - angered by a decision to award their pay rise in stages - came out against the move (...) Miss Smith's proposal would give MPs a role in any decision to let police hold suspects for more than 28 days. She said 42 days would be needed only in 'exceptional circumstances' and there would be a ''triple lock' safe-guard. Police and prosecutors, the judiciary and Parliament would all have to agree the need for going beyond 28 days. If the 42-day power was triggered, approval would have to be sought from Parliament within 30 days. The extra time would then be available for a 60-day period before lapsing (...) Labour MPs who blocked the 90-day plan remained sceptical. David Winnick, a member of the home affairs select committee, said: 'No evidence has been produced in my view - and in the view of a good number of other people - that any extension is necessary' (...) Ministers claim support from senior police officers but Jan Berry, the leader of the rank and file Police Federation, said the measure 'further politicises the independence and impartiality of the criminal justice system'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Law Blogs List Moves To New Site

On his Vancouver Law Librarian Blog, Steven Matthews has announced that "the Canadian Law Blogs List now has a home of its own. The dust cover is off, and the list will carry forward at LawBlogs.ca!"

"I started the list back in September 2005, and it has been generously noted by many bloggers and website owners (...)If your blog (or someone you know) isn't on the list, what are you waiting for? Send me your blog!"

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

Supreme Court of Canada Library: New Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of November 16th to 30th, 2007 is 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 6:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Memorial Ceremony for Late Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Lamer on TV This Saturday

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Canada held a special ceremony for former Chief Justice Lamer, who died in late November in Ottawa.

CPAC, the Cable Public Affairs Channel for politics junkies, will be airing that ceremony this Saturday, December 8 from 11:15 am to 12:00 pm Eastern Time.

More Library Boy posts on Lamer's illustrious career:
  • Former Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Lamer Dies (November 26, 2007): "The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 1990 to 2000, died Saturday in Ottawa at age 74. He was known to many as a champion of the late 20th-century rights revolution."
  • Farewell to The Right Honorable Antonio Lamer, Former Chief Justice of Canada (November 28, 2007): "The Right Honorable Antonio Lamer, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court between 1990 and 2000 who passed away on the weekend, is lying in repose in the Main Hall of the Supreme Court building as I write this, his casket attended by 5 soldiers of the Governor General's Foot Guards and a Mountie in ceremonial red serge uniform. Lamer was Honorary Colonel of the Foot Guards. Numerous members of the public and the legal profession have come to pay their last respects and have been filing by all afternoon long."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:09 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Be Smart At Holiday Parties!

The end of the year is fast approaching and many offices will be throwing holiday parties, either in-house or in restaurants, clubs or bars.

It is also the season of many questions about drunkenness, sexual harassment, liability and many other touchy topics.

A few texts with useful reminders:
  • Serving Smart at Holiday Parties (Ogilvy Renault): " 'The liability risks of holding staff parties are a big concern for employers this time of year. They need to be responsible, inclusive and aware,' says David Bannon, a partner in Ogilvy Renault’s Employment and Labour Law practice. 'Companies can be liable if an employee has an accident after drinking at a holiday party. Employers also need to be sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and beliefs in their workplaces. And they should remember that liability for sexual harassment doesn’t stop at the office door'. "
  • Holiday Reminder (Gowlings): "While automobile crashes related to the consumption of alcohol are the incidents that first come to mind when you think of risks associated with holiday parties, employers also need to be alert to sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct which may rear its ugly head just in time for the holidays. As well, a social atmosphere coupled with alcohol consumption, can magnify underlying problems in your workforce. Therefore, below are some guidelines to consider so that you can take preventative action before the holiday season is upon you..."
  • ‘Tis the season … for holiday parties and harassment complaints (McCarthy Tétrault): "Staff parties are a great way to celebrate the holiday season and to thank employees for their hard work over the previous year. Amidst all the excitement, employers must take care to protect themselves from potential liabilities. The following is a guide for employers on how to avoid legal liability arising out of sexual harassment complaints and motor vehicle accidents involving intoxicated employees."
  • Office holiday parties should be cause for celebration, not litigation (Canadian Employment Law Today): "Employers should follow these practices regardless of when or where the function is held, says McDonald. She warns that employer liability extends to off-site locations, which are considered part of the workplace if they are the site of company-sponsored events — even after normal working hours. Off-site functions have a combination of commercial host liability, which bars normally have, plus the employer’s obligation to provide a safe working environment, she says. If an employer chooses not to serve alcohol at the office holiday party, however, it doesn’t mean it’s free from responsibility. An employer can still be liable if violence, harassment or other criminal conduct takes place during a party."
  • Top 10 Holiday Party Offenses (Careerbuilder.ca): "According to a recent study, 36 percent of employers reported such behavioral problems as excessive drinking, off-color jokes, sexual advances and fistfights at last year’s company party. Fifteen percent of employees who engaged in inappropriate behavior reported a negative impact on his or her career growth. When work is bad, life is bad, so don’t take any risks this holiday season. Here are the top 10 offenses to avoid at this year’s company holiday bash."
  • The 7 worst office party blunders (Canoe.ca): "Yes, it's that time of the year again. A treacherous maze of white elephant gifts, semi-formalwear and the open bar, otherwise known as the holiday office party. Whether you're visiting the ghosts of holidays past or (gasp!) seeing your own future, you're bound to recognize at least a few of these party disasters. After all, it wouldn't be the holiday season without 'em. "

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

Canadian Insurance Case Database

The Canadian Insurance Law Blog, published by Michael Thomas at the Vancouver firm Harper Grey, happens to have a Case Database that is searchable by jurisdiction, selected issues (e.g. bad faith, duty to defend, subrogation), and type of insurance.

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

Update to Research Guide on French Law

Stéphane Cottin and Jérôme Rabenou of the Conseil constitutionnel (Constitutional Council of France) have updated their guide entitled Researching French Law on the GlobaLex site. The original version was published on GlobaLex in May 2005. GlobaLex is an online collection of research resources at the Hauser Global Law School Program, New York University School of Law.

The guide describes the structure of the French legal system, types of legislation, and sources of case law. It also provides a bibliography of major English texts, some help with citation, and a list of discussion lists, blogs and various other legal websites.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:27 pm 1 comments links to this post

Federal Government Websites Get Highest Score in Accessibility Test

The Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille, a well-known Montreal-based rehabilitation service working with the disabled, and the Coopérative AccessibilitéWeb consulting group, have just released a study measuring how accessible websites are for people with disabilities [study in French].

The study looked at the 200 most popular websites among francophones in Canada. 85 % of those sites could not be considered accessible to the disabled population.

Regretably, nothing has changed since a similar study was conducted in 2003.

The study used the criteria developed by the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Of all the categories defined by the authors, public administration scored the highest.

Here is a list of the 9 out of 200 sites that received a score of excellent or very good:

- Revenue Canada (Excellent)
- Government of Canada (Excellent)
- Environment Canada (Excellent)
- Public Service Commission of Canada (Excellent)
- Mozilla Organization (Very good)
- Human Resources Development Canada (Very good)
- Health Canada (Very good)
- National Research Council of Canada (Very good)
- Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services (Very good)

Since Government of Canada websites are fully bilingual, the English versions of those federal sites listed above also qualify as among the most accessible.

The major problems found in the vast majority of sites considered to be inaccessible to the disabled included:
  • bad coding and faulty cascading style sheets
  • content or functionalities that are unusable without Javascript
  • irrelevant or misleading headings
  • forms with missing labels or labels that make little sense
  • sites without textual equivalents or alt tags for image links or sensitive areas of clickable images and image maps
  • the use of absolute font values (pixels or points)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Resource Guide on False Confessions

The legal research website LLRX.com has just published Criminal Resources: False Confessions.

"In the Innocence Project's series 'Understand the Causes', they point out that '[i]n more than 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty'. This article surveys selected web-based resources and publications that shed light on the psychology and interrogation practices behind false confessions, as well as highlighting notable educational and bibliographic materials".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

RCMP Releases Report on Capital Market Fraud Investigation Teams

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has released a report on how to improve the effectiveness of Integrated Market Enforcement Teams or IMETs, specialized police units that combat financial crime.

The report was submitted to the Commissioner of the RCMP by a senior expert advisor, Mr. Nick Le Pan.

"IMET investigation results have been disappointing to many, though there continues to be progress on existing cases. The preventative activities through the Joint Securities Intelligence Units (JSIU) are a success. Issues of timely results are partly a problem of unrealistic expectations, partly due to differences in Canada’s legal framework compared to other jurisdictions that are unlikely to change soon, and partly due to issues within the RCMP and its partners. I conclude that IMET can improve within the current legal framework".

"There is no one measure that would speed up investigations. The Report identifies several essential elements including focusing investigations from the start and having adequate ability to process and analyse the large body of electronic and hard copy documents that are typical of these investigations".

"Federal and provincial Crown prosecution offices are also part of the timeliness issue as, depending on the province, they must separately approve or review the police case, before charges are laid. In contrast to the U.S., Canadian legal tradition does not permit prosecutors to be in charge of investigations or participate in them on a day-to-day basis. There appear to be resource challenges in some jurisdictions that can slow down getting to charges and having appropriate prosecution teams in place (...) "

"Expectations for IMET sometimes confuse regulatory enforcement with criminal enforcement, without realizing that the latter has a much higher bar for laying charges or for conviction. Expectations of U.S.-style results are unrealistic, given Canada’s different legal environment. For example, our lack of ability to compel those not being investigated to provide information, documents and data pre-trial, hampers investigations compared to the U.S. or U.K.. Also, as an example, charging people in stages in a major investigation, as is done in the U.S., is not feasible in Canada due to rules on full disclosure of the Crown’s case to accused".
Le Pan makes a number of recommendations, including: examining use of ability to charge corporations and reach deferred prosecution and cooperation agreements with them, as is done in the U.S.; enhancing cooperation between federal prosecutors and provincial Crowns and the RCMP to reduce delays in Crown consideration of charges; and enhancing relations between IMET and securities commissions.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Top Yahoo! Searches of 2007

Canadians are just SOOO predictable.

The number one search topic in 2007 according to Yahoo! Canada: the National Hockey League.

Other themes in our top 10: Britney Spears, American Idol, WWE (pro wrestling), Perez Hilton, Revenue Canada, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Environment Canada, Paris Hilton, and NASCAR.

So, Canadians appear to be obsessed with hockey, gambling, taxes, snow storms, entertainment kitsch and nasty gossip (preferably from south of the border), and bad girls behaving more badly than usual.

The more general Yahoo! has also published its 2007 search trends.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Information Today 2007 People's Choice Awards

Information Today, the publisher of periodicals such as Computers in Libraries, Searcher and Online, has unveiled the list of its People's Choice Awards 2007 in ten categories ranging from content management to enterprise applications.

"The two-part voting process took place online at Information Today, Inc.’s Web site (www.infotoday.com). The voting was open to one and all. We started the voting process with one round of nominations, and then we tallied the top nominations in each category and created a final round for those contenders vying for first place. The final votes were counted; we had our winners".

"For the winner in each category, we’ve included a profile of the company, person, or product, along with one or two comments from the voters themselves. We’ve also included honorable mentions for those contenders who received a substantial number of votes, just not enough to secure first place".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

Alternative Search Engines of the Year

There is more to life than Google, Yahoo! and MSN.

AltSearchEngines, a member of the Read/WriteWeb blog network whose goal is to expand coverage of search engines to include the hundreds of alternative / niche search engines, organized a contest to determine the top 10 alternative search engines of the year.

The winner is Quintura, a visual search engine.

Pandia, another site devoted to search, has more on the contest.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:25 pm 1 comments links to this post

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year

The winner is "locavore".

Locavore refers to an environmentally conscious shopper who seeks out locally grown foodstuffs that can be bought and prepared without the need for extra preservatives.

The runners-up in 2007 are aging in place, bacn, cloudware, colony collapse disorder, cougar, MRAP vehicle, mumblecore, previvor, social graph, upcycling, and the verb "to tase" (shoot with a taser).

To tase is the only one that has any relation to legal issues.

Earlier Library Boy posts about word lists 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)."
  • Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2006 (December 12, 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."
  • Banished Words List of 2006 (January 1, 2007): "It has been a tradition since Jan. 1, 1976 for Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie, Michigan to publish its annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness. The list is published every New Year's Day... Among the choices for 2006 are: Combined celebrity names like Brangelina; Awesome ; Gone missing ; Now playing in theaters; We're pregnant; Drug deal gone bad; i-Anything"
  • 'Plutoed' Voted Word of the Year by American Dialect Society (January 7, 2007): "In its 17th 'word of the year' contest, the American Dialect Society chose 'plutoed': 'To pluto is to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the former planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet' (...) There were a number of law-related terms considered for this 2006 edition, including data Valdez: an accidental release of a large quantity of private or privileged information. Named after the 1989 oil spill by the Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound, Alaska; waterboarding (winner in the most euphemistic category): an interrogation technique in which the subject is immobilized and doused with water to simulate drowning; reported to be used by U.S. interrogators against terrorism detainees. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Law Library Statistics for 2005–06

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published the ARL Academic Law Library Statistics 2005–06.

The document presents data on collections, expenditures, personnel, and services in 75 law libraries at member institutions throughout North America. McGill, Université de Montréal, University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto, and Western Ontario were among the Canadian respondents. Some highlights:
  • Law libraries reported median values of 322,284 volumes held
  • The respondents reported total expenditures of $206,514,082 US. This includes Canadian university law libraries, whose expenditure figures were converted into U.S. dollars
  • They reported a total of $14,893,320 on electronic materials, or a median of 15.27% of their total materials budgets. This includes a total of $13,167,729 on electronic serials.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 02, 2007

International Labour Organization Resource Guide on Disability

The International Labour Organization, a UN body, has developed the Resource Guide on Disability.

It provides links to key ILO publications, ILO labour standards and data, as well as to other resources from around the world.

It also provides saved searches by sub-theme or by region in Labordoc, the ILO's online electronic catalogue.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

Today is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library of the United Nations has put together a web page with resources on contemporary forms of human trafficking.

Earlier Library Boy posts on human trafficking include:
  • Criminal Intelligence Service 2006 Annual Report on Organized Crime (August 19, 2006): "The Service coordinates the criminal intelligence units of Canadian law enforcement agencies at the federal and provincial levels of government (...) Organized crime activities involve production and distribution of narcotics, firearms smuggling, vehicle theft, financial fraud, identity theft, counterfeiting, human trafficking and money laundering."
  • New Library of Parliament Publications (October 6, 2006): "Trafficking in Persons: 'The United Nations estimates that 700,000 people are trafficked annually worldwide – this is a fluid figure that is difficult to pin down (...) This paper will discuss the concept of trafficking in general terms and provide an overview of the legislative framework surrounding the issue at the international level and within the Canadian context. It will conclude with a discussion of potential gaps in Canadian legislation and policy with respect to trafficking in persons'."
  • New Library of Parliament Research Publications (February 18, 2007): "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 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report [U.S. State Department] 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'."
  • Library of Parliament Legislative Summary on Immigration Bill (June 19, 2007): "The Bill proposes amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to allow immigration officers to refuse to authorize foreign nationals to work in Canada if they are judged to be at risk of exploitation or trafficking."
  • Annual U.S. State Department Report on Human Trafficking (June 27, 2007): "The State Department of the United States has been producing an annual report since the year 2000 called the Trafficking in Persons Report. It reports on foreign governments' efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons (...) According to the country section on Canada: 'Canada is principally a transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Women and children are trafficked mostly from Asia and Eastern Europe for sexual exploitation, but victims from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East also have been identified in Canada'."
  • New U.S. Reports on Human Trafficking (August 1, 2007): "The Government Accountability Office in the United States recently published 2 reports on human trafficking"

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