Thursday, January 31, 2008

AZIMUT Adds Multi-Database Search Capability

AZIMUT, the Quebec-based legal search database developed by the Crown Corporation Société québécoise de l'information juridique (SOQUIJ), now offers a multi-database search capability known as Recherche Multibanques.

AZIMUT offers electronic access to case law from Quebec courts and the Supreme Court of Canada (Juris.doc collection), computerized court records from Quebec courts (Plumitifs) and the famous Baudouin Renaud annotated Civil Code of Quebec.

After selecting "Recherche Multibanques" in the Juris.doc collection, one can input search terms using the fields for full text, index terms, abstract, names of parties or judge, or file number, and launch a search throughout Juris.doc's more than 20 databases or one can limit the search to individual topics, courts or specialized tribunals, or types of material (digests or full-text), or any combination thereof.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

UN Report on Children and Armed Conflict

Last month, the Secretary General of the United Nations submitted his most report to the Security Council on the situation of Children and armed conflict.

The document proposes measures to end the recruitment and use of children in conflicts, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by parties to armed conflict.

The report includes annexes that name the groups that use and exploit children in various conflicts around the world.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

2007 Charity Law Developments in Canada

In its most recent Charity Law Bulletin, the professional firm of Carters, affiliated with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, describes the most significant legislative, regulatory and common law developments in 2007 that affected the operations of Canada's tens of thousands of charities.

"The following article provides an up to date summary of some of the more important of these developments over the whole of 2007, including recent changes under the Income Tax Act, new policies and publications from the Charities Directorate of the Canada Revenue Agency, select federal legislative issues affecting charities, as well as a selection of some of the more significant court decisions during the past year."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:22 pm 0 comments links to this post

Law Reform Commission of Ireland Report on Homicide

Earlier this week, the Law Reform Commission of Ireland released its report on Homicide: Murder and Involuntary Manslaughter.

"The Commission considers that the label 'murder' should cover the most heinous killings. The Commission therefore recommends that it should continue to be murder where the accused intended to kill or cause serious injury; but the Commission also recommends that the mental element in murder should be broadened to include reckless killings manifesting an extreme indifference to human life. Under this proposal, a person who planted a bomb in a busy office block could be convicted of murder if someone dies in the blast even if his main purpose was to cause criminal damage, rather than to injure or kill anyone. The Commission also repeats a recommendation it made over 10 years ago that the mandatory life sentence for murder should be replaced in order to take account of variations in moral culpability in different types of murder. "

"As to unlawful and dangerous act manslaughter, the Commission recommends retaining the existing key elements, namely, that the act which causes death constitutes a criminal offence and poses a risk of bodily harm to another; and that it is an act which an ordinary reasonable person would consider to be dangerous, that is, likely to cause bodily harm. But the Commission also recommends that low levels of deliberate violence should be removed from the scope of unlawful and dangerous act manslaughter and be prosecuted as a new, lesser, offence of 'assault causing death'."

"The Commission also recommends retaining the main elements of the current gross negligence manslaughter test, namely that the negligence which caused the death of the victim was of a very high degree and involved a high degree of risk or likelihood of substantial personal injury to others. But the Commission adds that a person should only be liable if he or she was mentally and physically capable of averting to, and avoiding the risk of death at the time of the fatality."

"As to related motoring offences, the Commission recommends that dangerous driving causing death should continue to exist alongside the more serious offence of manslaughter. Drivers could be prosecuted for manslaughter for road deaths but only where there is very high culpability, such as where joy-riding or high alcohol levels and speeding are involved. The Commission also recommends that a new offence of 'careless driving causing death' should be introduced to cover fatalities caused by
careless motoring."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:10 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Canadian Human Rights Commission Continues to Demand Aboriginals Be Allowed To Sue Under Indian Act

The Canadian Human Rights Commission yesterday released Still a Matter of Rights, a report calling for the federal Parliament to pass legislation repealing section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Section 67 denies aboriginal people living on or off reserve from filing a complaint with the Commission relating to any action arising from or pursuant to the Indian Act.

It was included in the Canadian Human Rights Act when it was first drafted in 1977. The reason given then was to allow the government time to address issues regarding sexual discrimination against women who married non-Indian men. It was to be a temporary measure. It is still on the books.

"In December 2006, repeal legislation—Bill C-44—was introduced in Parliament (...) Bill C-44 died on the order paper when a new session of Parliament was convened. It was the fourth time that Parliament had considered but did not enact repeal legislation. In the Throne Speech of October 16, 2007, the government announced that it would reinstate legislation to guarantee to people living under the Indian Act 'the same protections other Canadians enjoy under the Canadian Human Rights Act.' On November 13, 2007 Bill C-214 was introduced and deemed to be referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Bill C-21 is exactly the same as Bill C-44."

"Early in 2008, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs was still considering Bill C-21. Although some progress has been made, the fact remains that, more than two years after the Commission’s first report, section 67 is still in place. First Nations citizens are still denied the protection from discrimination that other citizens take for granted. That is unacceptable in a free and democratic society that values fundamental human rights."
More background on Bill C-21, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act from LEGISinfo (Library of Parliament).

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

UK and Scottish Law Commissions Propose Repeal of Hundreds of Old Statutes

The Law Commissions of the UK and Scotland yesterday published their 18th in a series of proposed statute law repeals. A draft Bill containing the proposed repeals will be introduced soon into the House of Lords.
"In reforming the law, the Law Commission does not just propose new laws. It also proposes the repeal of laws that have become obsolete. The purpose of our statute law repeals work is to modernise and simplify the statute book, reduce its size and save the time of lawyers and others who use it. This in turn helps to avoid unnecessary costs. It also stops people being misled by obsolete laws that masquerade as live law. If an Act still features in the statute book and is referred to in text books, people reasonably enough assume that it must mean something."
The Bill will repeal 260 whole Acts and part repeal 68 other Acts, including:
  • Obsolete laws relating to London workhouses including the workhouse at Wapping mentioned by Charles Dickens in The Uncommercial Traveller.
  • An Act of 1819 passed following the Peterloo Massacre of that year when 11 people were killed in Manchester.
  • Obsolete laws on the police including a law of 1839 requiring street musicians to leave the area if required to do so by irritated householders.
  • 40 Acts dating from 1700 for building local prisons across 19 counties in England and Wales .
  • 12 obsolete Acts relating to the former East India Company.
  • Obsolete laws on turnpikes dating back to a time when roads were maintained locally, with travellers having to pay a toll to cross a turnpike.

The Law Commission of the UK provides some background notes on the statute law repeals process. It has also compiled a list of legal curiosities.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Horizon Project Wiki on Emerging Technologies

The Horizon Project, an initiative of the New Media Consortium and the Educause Learning Initiative, tracks emerging technologies for teaching and learning.

It has established a project wiki with links to Horizon research themes, annual trend reports, an analysis of what happened to trends identified in earlier reports, press clippings, RSS feeds for top tech news sites, and del.icio.us tags relating to the project itself.

The most recent Horizon Report is for the year 2008.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 28, 2008

20th Anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada Morgenthaler Decision on Abortion

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada's Morgenthaler decision that struck down the provisions of the Criminal Code restricting abortion.

Commentary:
  • Abortion debate refuses to die, 20 years after historic court ruling (Canadian Press, January 26, 2008): "The ruling was hailed by feminists as a symbolic victory in the wider struggle for women's rights - with good reason, says Sanda Rodgers, a University of Ottawa law professor. 'The ability to plan your reproductive life is absolutely fundamental,' she says. 'If you can't control your own reproduction you can't control anything, your education, the size of your family, your economic status. It was appropriate that it was a defining issue'."
  • Advocates acclaim ruling (Montreal Gazette, January 28, 2008): "Attitudes have changed in the 20 years since the landmark decision freed physicians to perform abortions without fear of prosecution - but not before a few doctors and abortion clinics were physically attacked by radical anti-abortionists. Polling data in recent years indicate most Canadians support women's right to abortion, though the issue continues to stir controversy. No longer a taboo, abortion services are openly listed on the Internet. While getting an abortion carries less stigma today, not one of the women who spoke about undergoing the procedure wanted her name published in this story, however. Safe, legal abortions are available in most parts of Canada. There are about 330,000 live births and 100,000 abortions annually in this country."
  • Celebrating a victory for women (National Post, January 26, 2008): "After eight years of battles in the courts, in the streets and in the media, we had won our argument at the highest court in the land and in the court of public opinion. The next day riding the streetcar, everyone was talking about the victory. Dr. Morgentaler had become a hero to most Canadians -- the little guy fighting against the system. He had gone to jail for his beliefs in the 1970s in Quebec, but still was willing to risk incarceration again in Ontario. He stood up to death threats, bombing of his clinic, anti-Semitism, ridicule and every other tactic that some pro-life opponents used to try to stop him. He never wavered."
  • Pro-life v. pro-choice: The debate beats on (National Post, January 26, 2008): "Canada's old abortion law, Section 251 of the Criminal Code, banned all forms of abortion until 1969, when then justice minister Pierre Trudeau introduced an amendment to allow it in certain cases, to protect a woman's life or health (...) The 'life and health' standard was further diminished when it became apparent that the strongest predictors of a woman's access to abortion were her doctor's age, sex, whether it was a rural or urban practice, and her own age and marital status, none of which say very much about threats to her 'life and health.' Dr. Morgentaler, who had set up a clinic in Montreal, pushed this state of affairs to its crisis by placing the decision solely with the woman, and it was his prosecution that ultimately led the Supreme Court to rule the criminal law against abortion unconstitutional."
  • Michael Coren on the Morgentaler decision: An anniversary of death (National Post, January 28, 2008): "The last 20 years have also seen a curious twisting of the debate around the issue and a monumentally successful campaign to marginalize pro-life opinion. Politicians are told that to even discuss the policy would cost them votes — though polls repeatedly show Canadians are divided on the subject — and opponents of abortion, whatever their views on other issues, are portrayed as wide-eyed zealots. The discussion itself, of course, is seldom heard. In the past week alone yet another university student union, this time at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., has effectively banned a pro-life association. A city council in the same province has removed all pro-life literature from its property, even though the space was legally rented. It is the love that dare not speak its name. The genuine love that dare not speak its name. The love for children, from their earliest and most vulnerable."

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

Sunday, January 27, 2008

French Cour de Cassation Colloquia Now Available Online

The French Cour de cassation, France's highest judicial tribunal, regularly organizes colloquia on a variety of topics in French and European law.

Now, it is possible to watch the interventions at some of the more important conferences held since 2004 (total of some 150 hours of multimedia).

The interventions have been fully indexed, allowing users to search by keyword or legal concept or by caselaw referred to and analyzed by participants. This collection is a veritable crash course in some of the principles of French law.

One can consult the list of colloquia available.

A knowledge of French and some familiarity with French legal system are required.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Guide to French-Language Legal Blogs

Arnaud Dumourier, the author of the Juriblogs directory of French-language blawgs or law blogs, has just published an online 128-page guided tour of the French legal biblioblogosphere. Most of the blawgs referenced are from France, but there is material from Belgium and Canada as well.

It is called Guide des juriBlogs and can be downloaded for free in PDF format.

[Source: JuridicOnline - Le portail du droit en ligne]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Amendments to Youth Criminal Justice Act: Library of Parliament Legislative Summary

The federal government introduced Bill C-25, An Act to Amend the Youth Criminal Justice Act, in the House of Commons on November 19, 2007. The Bill is now in 2nd reading.

The Parliamentary Research and Information Service of the Library of Parliament has prepared a Legislative Summary of the proposed legislation:
"Overall, the bill strengthens the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act on pre-trial detention and sentencing. More specifically, it ... broadens the possibility of pre-trial detention for a young person who represents a danger to the public or has previously failed to comply with conditions of release (clause 1); broadens the possibility of pre-trial detention for a young person who represents a danger to the public or has previously failed to comply with conditions of release (clause 1); adds the denunciation and the deterrence of unlawful conduct to the Act’s principles of sentencing (clause 2) (...)"

"To critics of the bill, it represents a step backward. They point out that before the YCJA came into effect, Canada had the world’s highest youth incarceration rate, even higher than that of the United States. We should therefore continue to stress rehabilitation and reintegration into society, and avoid incorporating concepts applicable to adults into the YCJA. Community workers say the bill will increase the number of young people held in custody for minor offences, thus misallocating the justice system’s resources."

"Studies suggest that a punitive approach may be ineffective in combatting youth crime, since young people often act on impulse, without thinking about the possible consequences. A number of people, including the former attorney general and chief justice of Ontario, regard prevention as the key, rather attempted deterrence in the form of stiffer sentences. These critics feel that the government should look into the disturbing problem of the large number of inmates with mental health problems."

"By broadening the rules on pre-trial detention, Bill C‑25 could be contravening the fundamental principle of section 29(1) of the YCJA, which holds that pre-trial detention must not be used as a substitute for more appropriate youth protection and mental health services, or other social services (...) "

"The opposing argument is that the bill targets only the small group of young people who represent a real danger to society. The bill plugs a serious loophole in the youth justice system and gives more weight to the needs of victims and the community."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 25, 2008

December 2007 Issue of the Global Legal Monitor

The December 2007 issue of the Global Legal Monitor is available on the site of the Law Library of Congress.

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

The current issue covers topics ranging from new abortion restrictions in the Russian Federation to a joint United Nations/Liberian government campaign to prevent and punish the crime of rape.

The complete archive of the Global Legal Monitor is also available.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

European Court of Human Rights Annual Press Conference

The European Court of Human Rights held its traditional annual press conference on Wednesday, 23 January 2008 in Strasbourg.

The President of the Court, Jean-Paul Costa, outlined the major disappointments and postive developments of 2007:

  • the main disappointment was Russia’s refusal to ratify Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, thus blocking its entry into force. Protocol No. 14 contains a package of measures to streamline the Court’s procedures
  • on the positive side, Costa referred to the complementary work of the other parts of the Council of Europe in preventing violations of the Convention; efforts at national level to implement the Court’s judgments and prevent human rights abuses; and the prospect of the European Union acceding to the Convention.
The Court also issued its annual table of violations by country for 2007 and its annual Survey of Activities for 2007.

The total number of judgments delivered by the Court in 2007 was 1503, fewer than the 1560 delivered in 2006. Turkey had the highest number of judgments finding at least one violation of the Convention recorded against it (319), followed by Russia (175), Ukraine (108), Poland (101) and Romania (88).

It is possible to watch the press conference videos (note: much of it was in French): part 1, part 2, part 3.

The Court is an institution under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (AKA European Convention of Human Rights) that was drawn up by the Council of Europe. The Court website has excellent information about its history, structure and procedures.

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.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, January 24, 2008

New Wiki About U.S. Supreme Court Cases

The well-known SCOTUSblog, which follows the activities of the Supreme Court of the United States, has created a wiki companion known as ScotusWiki.

Regular SCOTUSblog contributors, top law students, and leading legal experts will be posting.

The wiki contains case analyses (starting October 2007), a "Petitions to Watch" section (analysis of important applications to the Court), as well as an archive of Supreme Court of the United States statistics.

The ScotusWiki is a great example of how wikis can used in the legal research field.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

10th Law Society of Upper Canada Colloquium on Professionalism

The Law Society of Upper Canada will be holding its 10th colloquium on the legal profession in Ottawa on March 28, 2008.

Topics include:
  • Changes to the standards of professionalism in the legal profession
  • The ethical challenges of entrepreneurial lawyers, the significance of the Strother Decision and preventing process from undermining justice
  • Refashioning the economic model to prevent marginalization of women and minorities
  • The challenges to professionalism in the public sector
  • Leadership from the Academy and the Bar
  • Leadership from the judiciary

The daylong event features several speakers, including:
  • Chief Justice of Canada, the Honourable Beverley McLachlin
  • Chief Justice of Ontario, the Honourable Warren K. Winkler
  • Executive Director of the National Judicial Institute, the Honourable Justice Brian Lennox
  • Canadian Bar Association President Bernard Amyot
  • and many others
Papers from past colloquia are available on the website of the Law Society of Upper Canada.

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

Statistics Canada Report on Female Offenders

According to a new Statisitics Canada report, females accounted for a small proportion of all alleged offenders in 2005 and, when they did offend, they tended to commit offences such as theft, common assault, bail violations and fraud:
"Women and girls have historically accounted for a small minority of offenders in Canada, a reality that remains today. Research has consistently shown that females are much less likely to commit crimes than males. At one time, their scant numbers meant little was known about female offenders and their needs. It also meant that women and girls who committed crimes faced a Canadian criminal justice system designed for the predominantly male offender population."

"It is precisely the relatively small number of women and girls who commit crimes that creates a need to regularly monitor trends in offending patterns among females, trends that become masked by the larger male population if not examined separately. Such information can be used in crime prevention strategies and to assess responses by the justice and social systems to females who offend or who are at risk of offending. Information may also serve to improve public understanding of crimes committed by women and girls."

"The first part of this Juristat presents information on the prevalence of crime by females, as well as the nature of their criminal behaviour. This first part uses data from a non-representative sample of police services reporting to the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR2) Survey and includes females who are either charged by police or who are not charged for various reasons (e.g., diversion), but against whom a charge could otherwise be laid due to sufficient evidence. Because the UCR2 data are not available consistently over time, the second part of this report examines trends in the number of females charged by police relative to their representation in the general population to address the question of whether or not there have been any changes over time in female offending. These trends are based on the Aggregate Uniform Crime Reporting Survey. The third part examines the processing of cases through the adult and youth court systems to illustrate the responses of the judicial system and the representation of females in it. The final part of this report provides information on the number and characteristics of female adult offenders in the provincial/territorial and federal correctional systems."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

2006 Annual Report on Use of Electronic Surveillance in Canada

The most recent issue of the Canadian government's Weekly Checklist features the 2006 annual report on electronic surveillance from Public Safety Canada.

The report outlines the use of electronic surveillance of private communications by law enforcement agencies to assist in criminal investigations.

Under the Criminal Code, agencies must obtain judicial authorization before conducting the surveillance.The government is required to prepare and present to Parliament an annual report on the use of electronic surveillance.

The 2006 Annual Report covers a five-year period from 2002 to 2006. The Report includes new statistics for the period of January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2006, and updates the figures for the years 2002 to 2005.

Statistics are provided for things such as the number of applications made for authorizations and for renewals of authorizations, the period for which authorizations and renewals were granted, a description of the methods of interception, the offences specified in authorizations (e.g. possession of a narcotic for the purpose of trafficking, smuggling/attempt to smuggle goods into Canada, laundering proceeds of excise offences, forgery of passport, weapons trafficking, murder, fraud, countefeiting, participating in activities of a criminal organization, etc.), the number of arrests as a result of an interception under an authorization.

The Weekly Checklist includes a listing of book and serial titles which have been released during the previous week by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:38 am 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Impact on Language Minorities from Court Challenges Program Cancellation

The most recent issue of the Canadian government's Weekly Checklist of official publications lists the December 2007 report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Official Languages on the Court Challenges Program.

The Weekly Checklist is a listing of book and serial titles which have been released each week by the Parliament of Canada, federal departments, and Statistics Canada.

The Court Challenges Program (CCP) provided funding to help minority, women's and other disadvantaged groups so they could launch "test court cases" challenging laws that may violate equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The program was ended by the current Conservative government in 2006.
"The report analyzes various positions taken by witnesses on the main issues arising from the government's decision to cancel the CCP in 2006. These issues are the Program's contribution to the vitality of official-language minority communities, the access to justice that it made possible, the federal government's commitment to consult the communities on decisions likely to affect their development, the government's right to exercise its prerogatives freely, and the Program's neutrality. Other more secondary issues are also discussed, such as the relevant case law, the current government alleged promotion of the CCP to the international community, and the lack of transparency for which the CCP was criticized before the signing of the 2004-2009 contribution agreement."

"Five options were considered in order to determine what the government should do about the CCP. A majority of the Committee's members decided that the only valid
option at this point was to re-establish the Program. A majority of the members were however prepared to analyse the other options at a future date, but only after the government had rectified the error it committed in cancelling the CCP without consulting the official-language minority communities, and without explaining to Canadians the reasons for its decision. The report's main recommendation therefore consists in requesting the government to restore funding for the Court Challenges Program."
Earlier Library Boy posts about the Court Challenges Program:
  • Court Challenges Program Challenged? (September 7, 2006): "Newspapers of the CanWest Global chain distributed a Janice Tibbetts article today that claims that the federal government may be considering the elimination of the Court Challenges Program as part of an overall review of government programs (...) The CanWest News Service article entitled Funding for minority groups to challenge federal laws under review reports that the program, first set up under former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, 'has been the target of harsh criticism from social conservatives and critics of so-called judicial activism, who assert the initiative is a slush-fund for left-leaning groups to circumvent the will of elected legislators by challenging them in court'."
  • Official Languages Commission Annual Report 2006-2007 (May 15, 2007): "In his first official report, released today, Canada's new Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser faults the federal government for its lack of leadership in promoting the rights of linguistic minorities in Canada. Fraser, who was appointed to the position last year, praises the government for its formal commitment to defending and promoting Canada's linguistic duality. But he explains that the words are not being followed by action. And he comes down hard on the Conservatives for their abolition of the Court Challenges Program which provided funding to minority groups to help mount challenges to government policies in court."
  • Lawsuit to Reinstate Federal Court Challenges Program (January 8, 2008): "According to [the Osgoode Hall Law School blog] The Court, 'Last month, a coalition of eight organizations representing equality-seeking communities announced that it will file a motion in Federal Court to intervene in a case challenging the decision of the federal government to cut funding to the Court Challenges Program (...) While operating, the program funded cases dealing with issues such as same-sex marriage, accessibility rights for people with disabilities, sex discrimination, violence against women, criminal law provisions regarding the use of disciplinary force against children, and racial discrimination in the immigration system'. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Federal Privacy Commission Discussion Paper on Identity

Yesterday, Canadian Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart released a discussion paper entitled Identity, Privacy and the Need of Others to Know Who You Are:

"The paper describes the core concepts of identity, including identification, authentication, attributes, common identifiers and tokens."

"With this information, Canadians can begin to evaluate critical issues that will affect their lives – such as a proposal for a national identification card. Several of the proposals for such a card being discussed in jurisdictions around the world would make it far easier to track individuals – is this loss of privacy a reasonable cost to pay for the promised benefits of a national identification card?"

"This discussion paper is one component of the work being undertaken on identity issues by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, both in Canada and internationally. For example, we are contributing to the work of the ISO Working Group on Identity Management and Privacy Technologies, as well as several other international working groups."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day Resources

Our neighbours in that big Republic to the South of us are marking Martin Luther King Day, a national holiday to celebrate the legacy of the U.S. civil rights leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Resourceshelf has gathered A Collection of Materials About Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And the Law Librarian Blog points to materials about the The Legal Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Update On Google Generation Myth Report

This is an update to the January 17, 2008 Library Boy post entitled British Library Study Shows Google Generation A Myth.

That post described a study commissioned by the British Library that poked big holes in the widely disseminated idea that younger people, a "born digital" generation, are somehow naturally info-experts, having bathed in a Web environment for their entire lives.

One can listen to the British Library press conference podcast of January 16, 2008.

The list of speakers includes:

  • Lord Triesman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Innovation, Universities, and Skills of the UK
  • Ian Rowlands and Professor David Nicholas, authors of the report
  • Dr Malcolm Read, Executive Secretary, Joint Information Systems Committee, co-sponsor of the report
  • Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive British Library

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

French Government Adds Major Enhancements to Its Legifrance Site

As of last week, the French government's Legifrance website has been updated with many new features. A good knowledge of French is required.

The site continues to offer access to legislation and jurisprudence from France, the European Union and various international bodies. But it is has become much more powerful.

Among the new features of interest to legal researchers:
  • when looking up a section of a law, regulation, or Code, the new navigation system now provides access to the full hyperlinked table of contents alongside the section of the document so one can see how a section fits into the overall scheme and jump from one part of the text to another
  • one can find what a section of a legal Code looked like at a point-in-time in the past as well as consult what it will look like in the future (thanks to information about delayed coming-into-force provisions)
  • a thematic search tool for legislation and regulations
  • very detailed advanced search templates for finding caselaw from the French constitutional, administrative and judicial court systems
For a backgrounder on the legal system in France, I would recommend the December 2007 research guide entitled Researching French Law by Stéphane Cottin and Jérôme Rabenou who both work for the Conseil constitutionnel (France's Constitutional Council).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008 Information Industry Look-Ahead

From Infotoday Newslink, a Review of the Year 2007 and Trends Watch by Paula Hane:
"It’s important to pay attention to trends—both within our industry and in the larger technology, business, and cultural arenas. It helps us keep our edge and decide on new directions for services and products (...)"

"Here are a few other things I’m watching this year:
  • Accelerating number of mobile content applications—and new devices
  • Increased spending for online ads with further declines in print
  • Increasing popularity of widgets for content delivery
  • Niche community networking sites are expected to grow in popularity as people grow weary of the megasites (MySpace, Facebook, etc.)
  • Increasing use of social networking capabilities in enterprise settings
  • New collaborative workflow tools will emerge as companies demand more collaboration across organizations
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications will continue to grow in popularity for a segment of businesses
  • Growth of open source tools and services
  • Ongoing book digitization projects (Google, Open Content Alliance, etc.)
  • Continued progress and growth in open access initiatives
  • Further movement from fee-based to free content
  • Continued buzz around user-generated content with publishers testing new publishing models
  • Increased interest in text analytics, data extraction and mining, semantic search, and related technologies
  • Continued interest in testing visualization tools for information discovery and analysis
  • Security and privacy remain major concerns"
Hane's article also lists 2008 predictions from a number of other information industry sources and analysts.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:01 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 January 1st to 15th, 2008 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 loan to authorized libraries.

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

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

Thursday, January 17, 2008

British Library Study Shows Google Generation A Myth

A report commissioned by the UK Joint Information Systems Committee and the British Library - Information Behaviour of the Researcher of the Future - claims that the widespread assumptions about the existence of a 'Google Generation' of younger, tech-savvy people whose information-seeking behaviour is very different from that of their older peers may be a myth. In fact, their information literacy skills are often sadly deficient, as are those of the members of other generations.

From the press release:

"... although young people demonstrate an ease and familiarity with computers, they rely on the most basic search tools and do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information that they find on the web. The report (...) also shows that research-behaviour traits that are commonly associated with younger users – impatience in search and navigation, and zero tolerance for any delay in satisfying their information needs – are now the norm for all age-groups, from younger pupils and undergraduates through to professors."

"The study calls for libraries to respond urgently to the changing needs of researchers and other users and to understand the new means of searching and navigating information. Learning what researchers want and need is crucial if libraries are not to become obsolete, the report warns."

"The findings also send a stark message to government - that young people are dangerously lacking information skills. Well-funded information literacy programmes are needed, it continues, if the UK is to remain as a leading knowledge economy with a strongly-skilled next generation of researchers."

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

January Schedule at the Supreme Court of Canada

Here is a list of the appeals that the Supreme Court of Canada will be hearing in January.

Summaries of the cases and of the issues are included.

Hearings begin next week.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

This Day in the History of the Supreme Court of Canada

On this day in 1876, the Supreme Court of Canada sat for the very first time, but there were no cases on the docket to be heard.

Transcripts from this first session of the Court state: "There being no business to dispose of, the Court rose."

If only all days at work were like that...

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Designing A Legal Research Tool

There is an article published on the Social Science Research Network by Jennifer Greig of Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Orlando, Florida entitled Have You Seen the New Library Bar?: Designing a Legal Research Toolbar :

"It seems like more and more people today are selecting their legal research results based on ease of access rather than the completeness of the results. After hearing one too many third-year law students say 'I researched my entire paper on Google,' I set off to create a tool that would satisfy both the desire for speed and the need for complete and authoritative research results. The tool is a legal research toolbar that integrates into a web browser and provides constant and quick access to library-sanctioned websites and databases. This paper walks readers through the design process of the Barry Law School Toolbar, including conception, negotiating with IT, and testing."
On a related note, the Cornell Law Library has improved its Legal Research Engine, a custom search tool that searches legal research guides created by law libraries in the United States, law-themed sites indexed by InSite, Cornell's legal current awareness service, and academic blawgs. And with one simple click, it is possible to add the Legal Research Engine or any of its individual components to one's Google personal home page.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:43 pm 0 comments links to this post

List of Documents Prepared by the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General on Business and Human Rights

A few years ago, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed a special representative on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations.

That person's job is to identify standards of corporate responsibility; develop materials for human rights impact assessments of the activities of corporations abroad; elaborate on the role of States in effectively regulating corporations when it comes to human rights; and compile a compendium of best practices of States and corporations.

The current Special Representative is John Ruggie.

Yesterday, his office published a comprehensive list of documents produced under his authority:

"In addition to the SRSG’s official reports, it also includes briefing papers prepared by the SRSG’s research team as well as submissions from a variety of different stakeholders."

"The documents are divided into the following groupings: (1) official documents (reports and annexes) submitted by the SRSG to the HRC [UN Human Rights Council]; (2) the analyses conducted by the SRSG’s team on the subject of state responsibilities to regulate and adjudicate corporate activities...; (3) documentation related to consultations held by the SRSG; (4) general briefing papers and submissions prepared by or to inform the SRSG; and (5) correspondence with non-governmental organizations (NGOs)."


The documents cover issues such as Third World outsourcing, extractive industries, how international human rights laws can apply to corporations, the state duty to protect, and the need for more effective grievance mechanisms.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Using Brain Scans To Prove Your Client Is Innocent

The most recent episode of Justice Talking, a weekly radio program of the National Public Radio network in the United States, is devoted to Neurolaw: The New Frontier:
"Some lawyers are using brain scans showing defects to argue that their clients aren’t responsible for criminal behavior. In recent years, this neuroscientific evidence has been increasingly used in our courtrooms. But some scientists argue that the imaging is still new and unreliable, while others question whether juries should be ruling on what counts as a 'defective' brain. As neurolaw grows in influence, it could potentially revolutionize our notions of guilt and punishment as criminals say 'my brain made me do it.' Might we be, one day, just a brain scan away from a form of lie detection and prediction of criminal behavior? Tune in as we examine this new frontier of law on this edition of Justice Talking."
The website of the episode links to related caselaw and books.

It is possible to subscribe to the weekly podcast of Justice Talking or to browse through the archives of the show (325 episodes available).

Most of the episodes deal with American legal issues, but from time to time, Justice Talking tackles controversies that resonate beyond U.S. borders.

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

Monday, January 14, 2008

International Judicial Monitor

Simon Fodden at Slaw, the cooperative Canadian blawg, published a post about an international legal resource I had not heard of: International Judicial Monitor.

Published by the American Society of International Law and the International Judicial Academy, it describes itself as an "international law resource for judiciaries, justice sector professionals, and the rule of law community around the world."

It offers commentary, significant judicial developments, profiles of prominent jurists, etc.

At the Supreme Court of Canada, we have found a few other current awareness sources useful for following international legal developments and news:
  • Global Legal Monitor, an electronic publication of the Law Library of Congress. The Monitor summarizes legal developments from around the world, with selections made based on official national legal publications, and various press sources.
  • JURIST, the news website run by the School of Law at the University of Pittsburgh
  • BILD - Bulletin of International Legal Developments, from the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, covering "developments in the fields of public international law, national laws, conflict of laws, European law and human rights."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

The Buying of the President 2008

The U.S. NGO Center for Public Integrity published the original Buying of the President in 1996, repeating the experience in 2000 and 2004. The different editions of the book explore the role and influence of big money in U.S. presidential politics.

The Center will publish a 2008 version of the book later this year. In the meantime, it has created a companion website:
"Like the book, this site explores the roles that money and special interests play in presidential politics. But unlike the book, which will provide a behind-the-scenes examination of how big money influences the presidential election process, this site is a work in progress — a continually updated window into the 2008 race that’s also richly supplemented with details, insights, and revelations from previous campaigns and, where feasible, those who engineered them."

"In addition to details about the 2008 candidates and their political benefactors, for example, the site includes everything from a history of money in presidential politics to in-depth, on-the-record interviews with current and former presidential candidates, consultants and strategists, donors and fundraisers, and academics who have studied the intricacies of the political system. What’s more, the site offers the Center for Public Integrity’s complete body of work on presidential elections, most notably cover-to-cover, full-text-searchable copies of the three previous books in the Buying of the President series."

So, if you want to keep up with what and whom money can and does buy in that Great Republic south of our borders, this is the site for you.

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

Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Crime in Canada and the United States is Measured

The Congressional Research Service in the United States has a new report out on How Crime in the United States Is Measured:
"Crime data collected through the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), and the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) are used by Congress to inform policy decisions and allocate federal criminal justice funding to states. As such, it is important to understand how each program collects and reports crime data, and the limitations associated with the data."

"This report reviews (1) the history of the UCR, the NIBRS, and the NCVS; (2) the methods each program uses to collect crime data; and (3) the limitations of the data collected by each program (...)"

"The UCR represents the first effort to create a national, standardized measure of the incidence of crime. It was conceived as a way to measure the effectiveness of local law enforcement and to provide law enforcement with data that could be used to help fight crime. UCR data are now used extensively by researchers, government officials, and the media for research, policy, and planning purposes. The UCR also provides some of the most commonly cited crime statistics in the United States (...)"

"The NIBRS was developed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to respond to the law enforcement community’s belief that the UCR needed to be updated to provide more in-depth data to meet the needs of law enforcement into the 21st century. The NIBRS collects data, including data on offense(s), offender(s), victim(s), arrestee(s), and any property involved in an offense... Despite the more detailed crime data that the NIBRS can provide, nationwide implementation of the program has been slow, for a variety of reasons, including cost considerations."

"The NCVS is the primary source of information on the characteristics of criminal victimization, and on the number and types of crime not reported to law enforcement. The NCVS has four major objectives: (1) to develop detailed information about the victims and consequences of crime, (2) to estimate the number and types of crimes not reported to police, (3) to provide uniform measures of selected types of crimes, and (4) to permit comparisons over time and population type (e.g., urban, suburban, and rural). The NCVS asks respondents whether they have been the victim of rape and sexual assault, robbery, simple and aggravated assault, purse snatching/pickpocketing, burglary, theft, or motor vehicle theft. In addition to collecting data on the number of victimizations, the NCVS gathers data
on the details of each incident of victimization."
For the sake of comparison, in Canada, crime statistics are measured using the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey of the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics:
"The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), in co-operation with the policing community, collects police-reported crime statistics through the Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR). The UCR Survey was designed to measure the incidence of crime in Canadian society and its characteristics."

"UCR data reflect reported crime that has been substantiated by police. Information collected by the survey includes the number of criminal incidents, the clearance status of those incidents and persons-charged information. The UCR Survey produces a continuous historical record of crime and traffic statistics reported by every police agency in Canada since 1962. In 1988, a new version of the survey was created, UCR2, and is since referred to as the 'incident-based' survey, in which microdata on characteristics of incidents, victims and accused are captured."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:24 pm 0 comments links to this post

Multiple Search Engines All On One Page

A search tool known as Intelways allows users to move around different search tools all from one home page.

The tools are organized into 11 categories such as General, News, Social, Video, Academic, etc. For example, in the Academic category, it is possible to launch a search in such diverse databases or collections as Google Scholar, LII.org, Citeseer, Scirus, Nature and many more.

More from Resourceshelf: Best of ResourceShelf: Quickly Move from One Search Tool to Another with Intelways.

There is another similar tool called Fagan Finder that offers this kind of search menu. Though it is not often updated (some links no longer work), I have used Fagan Finder in the past for suggestions of search engines to use for different purposes.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, January 11, 2008

Top Technology Trends 2008 From ALA Midwinter Conference

The American Library Association (ALA) is holding its annual Midwinter meeting in Philadelphia from January 11-16, 2008.

At each ALA gathering, its LITA division (Library and Information Technology Association) holds a Top Tech Trends panel discussion. This year's session takes place Sunday.

In anticipation, the LITA blog contains a number of posts with contributions from a number of observers (see posts from January 7, 2008 onwards). In the past, the LITA blog has also posted podcasts of the actual presentations once conferences were over.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Harvard Law Library Collection of Early British Broadsides from Public Executions

The Harvard Law School Library has an online collection of so-called crime broadsides, publications sold to the crowds who came to witness public executions in 18th and 19th century England:

"These ephemeral publications were intended for the middle or lower classes, and most sold for a penny or less. Published in British towns and cities by printers who specialized in this type of street literature, a typical example features an illustration (usually of the criminal, the crime scene, or the execution); an account of the crime and (sometimes) the trial; and the purported confession of the criminal, often cautioning the reader in doggerel verse to avoid the fate awaiting the perpetrator."

"The Library's collection of more than 500 broadsides is one of the largest recorded and the first to be digitized in its entirety. The examples digitized here span the years 1707 to 1891 and include accounts of executions for such crimes as arson, assault, counterfeiting, horse stealing, murder, rape, robbery, and treason. Many of the broadsides vividly describe the results of sentences handed down at London's central criminal court, the Old Bailey..."
I referred to the digitization of proceedings from the Old Bailey in a Library Boy post of April 10, 2007 entitled Old Bailey Proceedings Digitized that described the digitization of the digests of more than 100,000 trials that took place in the famous London criminal courts between 1674 and 1834.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New OECD Report on Broadband Access and the Digital Divide

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, of which Canada is a member along with other advanced industrialized nations, has just released a study on how high-speed broadband is changing people’s use of the Internet.

"The Internet, and its most recent expression, broadband, is now part of everyday life for a billion people, but billions are still excluded from this major technological advance. This paper focuses on how ICTs, the Internet and broadband diffusion and use among households and individuals are sources of significant change and how these technologies have, and will continue to have, major economic and social impacts. The indicators and discussion presented in this paper shed light on selected areas of household and individual use (...)"

"Overall an increasing share of household income is devoted to communication. This is a general trend across OECD countries although there are differences among them ... Personal computers, the Internet and broadband have reached relatively high diffusion levels across and within OECD countries but again there are significant differences among them. This has driven major changes in people’s lives as these technologies are pervasive and powerful enabling tools. Focusing mainly on the Internet and broadband, diffusion and usage patterns are analysed by selected socio-economic variables, tracking pervasiveness and variety of use and the impact of broadband on patterns and frequency of use... "

"With increasing frequency of Internet use there are clear signs of changes in time allocation patterns, with broadband having a significant effect on these patterns ... Finally, different rates of PC and Internet diffusion across different populations have resulted in digital divides (haves versus have-nots), and, as shown in previous OECD analysis, as the simple digital access divide declines a digital use divide is increasingly significant. How has this evolved? This second level use divide persists beyond connectedness and is increasingly important with increasing broadband access ...Technology use and learning play a vital role, and background and socio-economic status have a direct bearing on how people use information technology in general, and broadband in particular. Some policy implications and proposals for future work conclude this paper."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Blog on Best Practices for Legal Education

The Law Librarian Blog today drew attention to the relatively new Best Practices for Legal Education Blog, "a site [that] was created with two goals in mind: 1) to create a useful web-based source of information on current reforms in legal education (...) ; and 2) to create a place where those interested in the future of legal education can freely exchange ideas, concerns, and opinions."

Contributors are from the United States and the UK.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

UK Government Consultation on Future of Copyright

The government of the United Kingdom is embarking on a public consultation on the future of copyright legislation.

It looks at many issues of interest to consumers and libraries, such as private copying, distance education, digital preservation, etc.

Comment about the process from University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist:

"From a process perspective, the UK government has just provided a blueprint for how [Canadian Industry Minister Jim] Prentice should address the copyright file. It started with a comprehensive review of intellectual property law (the Gowers Report) in 2006 that resulted in a comprehensive report that attempted to strike the right balance on difficult policy issues. It has followed up on the report with this latest consultation - 96 pages of detail on the key recommendations - and given the public four months to comment. The final chapter will presumably feature legislation based on extensive input from all stakeholders. The Canadian government would do well to copy this blueprint."

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Winter 2007 Issue of News & Views on Civil Justice Reform

The special issue no. 11 of News & Views presents reports from the 2006 Into the Future Conference on civil justice reform initiatives in Canada.

The conference had 3 objectives:
  • to provide an update on the status of civil justice reforms nationwide since the Canadian Bar Association’s Systems of Civil Justice Task Force Report was issued in 1996;
  • to identify those barriers that prevent effective change from occurring; and
  • to consider novel approaches to reform that respond to the current and future needs of Canadians.
News & Views on Civil Justice Reform is a publication of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Lawsuit to Reinstate Federal Court Challenges Program

The Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court has printed an article entitled Coalition Fights to Bring Back Court Challenges about an upcoming Federal Court case against the federal government’s decision to eliminate funding for the Court Challenges Program back in 2006.

The Court Challenges Program provided funding to help minority, women's and other disadvantaged groups so they could launch "test court cases" challenging laws that may violate equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

According to The Court, "Last month, a coalition of eight organizations representing equality-seeking communities announced that it will file a motion in Federal Court to intervene in a case challenging the decision of the federal government to cut funding to the Court Challenges Program (...) While operating, the program funded cases dealing with issues such as same-sex marriage, accessibility rights for people with disabilities, sex discrimination, violence against women, criminal law provisions regarding the use of disciplinary force against children, and racial discrimination in the immigration system. "

The hearing is scheduled to be heard in Federal Court in Fredericton, New Brunswick on February 25th and 26th.

I dealt with the cuts to the Court Challenges Program in an earlier Library Boy post entitled Court Challenges Program Challenged? on September 7, 2006.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, January 07, 2008

Monthly Newsletter on Law and Religion

For the past few years, Sébastien Lherbier-Levy has been publishing a very detailed monthly newsletter on religion and law called "La lettre du droit des religions".

Each issue includes an editorial comment, a feature article, news items from France and the European Union, case law from the European Court of Human Rights (and domestic case law from French tribunals) as well as a bibliography.

In the most recent issue, there are items about the place of religion in the European Union's new Lisbon Treaty, digests of French and European court and tribunal decisions, summaries of debates in the French and European Parliaments dealing with religious matters, the full text (in French) of the Supreme Court of Canada decision Bruker v. Marcovitz, 2007 SCC 54 on Jewish religious divorce, and excerpts about France from the text of the U.S. Secretary of State's 2007 Report on International Religious Freedom.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the intersection of religion and secular law include:


  • Laïcité 1905-2005: Centenary of the Separation of Church and State in France (December 12, 2005): "Last Friday, December 9, marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of the French law creating an active separation of Church and state, a concept known as 'laïcité' and that is often translated as secularism."
  • Ontario Bans Sharia Arbitration (February 17, 2006): "The provincial government of Ontario passed legislation this week that bans the use of binding religious arbitration to settle family law matters, like divorce and child custody. The government was driven to pass the law by a public pressure campaign that took off last year against the possibility that a controversial set of Muslim rules and guidelines known as sharia would be used under the Arbitration Act, 1991."
  • Religious Law Guide (February 17, 2006): "The Guide offers an introduction to religious law with sections covering Islamic law, Jewish law, Christian Canon law, Hindu law, Buddhist Law and Confucian Law. Each section provides essential facts as well as details of Web, book and article sources available. There is also a list giving details of how religious law is implemented in a number of jurisdictions."
  • Quebec Government Creates Committee on Religious/Cultural Diversity in Schools (October 11, 2006): "The Quebec Minister of Education, Jean-Marc Fournier, announced today that he is creating a consultative committee on diversity in the province's schools whose primary task will be to come up with 'a clear and accessible definition of what is a reasonable accommodation' between the needs of children from cultural and religious minorities and the values of the officially secular public education system."
  • Supreme Court of Canada to Review Religious Divorce (October 16, 2006): "[T]he Supreme Court of Canada will hear a case on December 5, 2006 of a Jewish woman who sued her ex-husband for 'allegedly blighting her chances to remarry within her faith when he broke his contractual pledge to her to consent to a religious divorce.' According to the article entitled 'Withholding ghet permission to be reviewed by Supremes', the issue in this specific case is part of a list of 'current religious/secular conflicts over the propriety of polygamy, same-sex marriage and the use of traditional faith-based laws like Sharia to resolve family and civil disputes'."
  • Legal Background to the Controversy on Polygamy in Canada (August 3, 2007): "Earlier this week, a special prosecutor in British Columbia concluded there was insufficient evidence to lay criminal charges against members of a break-away Mormon polygamist colony in the town of Bountiful (...) There have recently been a number of studies on the legal aspects of the polygamy debate in Canada. In 2005 Status of Women Canada, a government agency that promotes gender equality, commissioned four research reports on the topic of polygamy..."
  • Policy Options Sept. 2007 Issue on Reasonable Accommodation of Minorities (September 11, 2007): "The Sept. 2007 issue of Policy Options, a journal of the Montreal think tank Institute for Research on Public Policy, contains a number of articles on the issue of reasonable accommodation of minorities, in particular religious minorities.The issue was published just as public hearings of the Bouchard-Taylor Commission on state secularism, immigrant integation and relations between minorities and the French-speaking majority of the province get underway in Quebec."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, January 06, 2008

New LISjobs.com Library Career Forums

LISjobs.com, an online career guide for librarians and information professionals run by Rachel Singer Gordon, has launched message boards where readers can discuss job hunting, professional development, and librarianship as a career.

Forum moderators include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:25 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Federal Rules for Lobbyists

The Canadian government has announced the prepublication of regulations necessary for the coming into force of the Lobbying Act.

The regulations set out administrative measures lobbyists will have to follow to comply with the new registration requirements under the Act.

More background is available from:

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Is Facebook Interfering With Criminal Investigations?

Yesterday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported how the popular social networking site Facebook is making publication bans in criminal cases harder to enforce.

A 14 year-old Toronto girl was stabbed to death on New Year's Day by 2 juveniles. Normally, under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, the 2 underage murder suspects and the victim should not be identified.

But the pictures and names of all 3 were posted on Facebook. The local police released the name of the victim, Stefanie Rengel, this week with the consent of her parents.

Toronto police say Facebook "highlights the futility of imposing publication bans".
"Mark Pugash, spokesman for the Toronto Police Service, says the Rengel case is a perfect example of how Facebook can often interfere with the rule of law (...)"

"Martha McKinnon, executive director of Justice for Children and Youth, says the answer is education. She says many Facebook users are teens and may not even know they are breaking the law."

" 'Neither the federal nor provincial government have invested any resources into educating the public about why we have these confidence provisions [in the Youth Criminal Justice Act]; what they are for ... so that people will actually know what the law is,' she said."

"Legal observers say the case shows the law's inability to keep up with those who wish to express themselves on the internet."

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

'Subprime' Voted American Dialect Society Word of the Year

Yesterday, the American Dialect Society voted to choose "subprime" as its word of the year for 2007. The word describes a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment.

This is the 18th annual vote by the association dedicated to the study of the English language in North America. Its membership includes linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, authors, editors, professors, university students, and independent scholars.

The press release also lists the winners for previous years.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year include:
  • American Dialect Society Words of the Year 2005: Legal Expressions 'Patent Troll', 'Extraordinary Rendition' Make List (January 11, 2006): "The overall winner for 2005 is 'truthiness', popularized by a satirical fake news show on the Comedy Central television channel. It refers to the 'quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true' (...) One of the runner-ups [in the group 'most useful'] was 'patent troll', 'a person or business, especially a lawyer, who applies for or owns a patent with no intention of developing the product but with every intention of launching lawsuits against patent infringers.' A few other law-related terms scored highly in the 'most euphemistic' category (...): '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' ..."
  • 'Plutoed' Voted Word of the Year by American Dialect Society (January 7, 2007): "'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; and '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 7:34 pm 1 comments links to this post

Friday, January 04, 2008

ILO Termination of Employment Legislation Digest

The International Labour Organization has created a Termination of Employment Legislation Digest that reviews legislation on subjects such as contracts of employment, termination of employment, dismissal, notice and prior procedural safeguards; severance pay; and avenues for redress:
"To illustrate the diversity of national approaches, the Digest reviews the legislation of more than 77 countries, as well as provides comparative tables for easy reference."

"Dealing exclusively with employees in the private sector, the Digest offers a practical guide for the lay reader, as well as for lawyers, government officials and employers’ and workers’ organisations."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:50 pm 0 comments links to this post

Updated Version of Book on Crimes of War

The Crimes of War Project has made an updated and revised edition of its Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know available online:
"Crimes of War: What the Public Should Know ... is an A-Z guide to the laws governing armed conflict and their application in practice. The chapters include discussions of the crimes prohibited by international humanitarian law, key terms relating to modern warfare, analysis of legal categories, and case studies showing the place of war crimes in recent conflicts."
The Crimes of War Project, based in Washington, is a group of journalists, lawyers and scholars dedicated to raising public awareness of the laws of war and their application to situations of conflict.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:42 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 December 1 to 31, 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 loan to authorized libraries.

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

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

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Making Art From Old Catalogue Cards

Some people at the University of Iowa Libraries have put the cards from their old catalogue to very imaginative use (in particular, check out the Gallery section of the site):

"The cARTalog grows from the empty drawers of the University of Iowa Libraries' main card catalog, which was retired in 2004. A small community of library staff-motivated by both nostalgia and library subculture -- has come together to give the card catalog cards themselves a rebirth, in order to celebrate the role of this honorific icon within the world of libraries as well as the UI Libraries' sesquicentennial. Project organizers were able to salvage approximately only one quarter of the UI's card catalog for the cARTalog project; the remaining cards were hauled away to recycling. The UI Libraries is only one of several libraries that have sought to honor the waning card catalog with a lasting monument or ceremony".

"The active members of cARTalog are organizing larger scale projects, including:

  • cardART in the schools (Iowa City community school district)
  • Mail Art projects
  • an exhibition of cARTalog projects at the UI Libraries
  • permanent card catalog art installation
  • a web page documenting the history of card catalogs and the cARTalog project"

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Creating an Institutional Repository for Legal Materials

The legal research site LLRX.com features a recent article entitled Carpe Diem: Establish an Institutional Repository for Your Organization that explains how to go about creating an institutional repository to collect the intellectual output of an institution, such as a law firm, a law library or a law faculty.

"A law firm associate has prepared a continuing legal education PowerPoint presentation that resides on the hard drive of the associate's laptop. Another associate has served as an expert witness at a U.S. congressional hearing and the testimony is available on the GPO's website. The law firm's annual report from last year is stored on the intranet on the firm's web server. The firm's librarian has delivered an educational presentation at a professional meeting that is available on the web as a podcast. "

"How can all of these diverse items be captured, archived, organized and readily accessible on the web in one location for public access? An institutional repository can provide the perfect solution."

"In our current technological age, most communications and scholarship are born digital and are often scattered across various servers and hard drives. Most of these virtual items are not as carefully archived or preserved as are traditional print publications. Librarians have a unique opportunity to fill a void by taking a leadership role in organizing and preserving digital information. In today's computer dependent environment, our extensive archival expertise is timely and germane."
The article explains what an institutional repository is, the various reasons for creating one, the steps librarians can take to launch one, and offers links to a number of examples from American law schools or law school consortia.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:50 pm 0 comments links to this post

Videos of Columbia Conference on Human Rights Archives and Documentation

The site Resourceshelf mentioned yesterday that the Columbia University website has posted videos of the presentations from an October 2007 international conference on Human Rights Archives and Documentation: Meeting the Needs of Research, Teaching, Advocacy, and Justice.

Scholars, human rights activists, legal advocates, librarians, and archivists from all over the world attended the conference to explore issues around how documentation of human rights situations is created, archived, preserved, accessed, and utilized.

The conference marked the formal opening of the Center for Human Rights Documentation and Research at Columbia University Libraries. The Center is the official repository for the archives of Amnesty International USA, Human Rights Watch, Committee of Concerned Scientists, and other major international human rights organizations.

Earlier Library Boy posts about human rights documentation systems and tools include:
  • Computer Geeks Track Human Rights Abuses (February 14, 2006): "Wired News has printed some fascinating articles about the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) that builds computer databases and conducts statistical analysis on the data collected to build objective evidence of human rights abuses. HRDAG works with international human rights investigations."
  • Information Standards for Human Rights Violations Classification and Reporting (July 20, 2006): "HURIDOCS focuses on providing training for information and human rights workers who require techniques for the collection, organization and classification, preservation, and management of human rights abuse information.Tools include training materials for indexing and thesaurus building, standardized formats for the exchange of bibliographic information and metadata about human rights, proposed methodologies for monitoring and reporting abuses (standard ways of describing events, victims, acts, identities of perpetrators), etc."
  • Tools to Monitor Human Rights (July 25, 2006): "Human Rights Tools was set up by former workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (...) The site is aimed at professionals monitoring human rights and offers resources and training manuals for investigating political, social and humanitarian conditions in countries, documenting the human rights situation, using international law, planning, finding jobs and training opportunities in the human rights field..."
  • New International Human Rights Search Engine (December 19, 2006): "A new human rights topical search engine called HuriSearch was launched in early December as a joint project of FAST, a major enterprise search solutions company, and the Swiss-based HURIDOCS organization, which brings together monitoring and fact-finding practitioners, documentalists and librarians - to develop information management tools for human rights groups."
  • Human Rights IT Tools to Map Darfur Genocide (April 11, 2007): "The magazine Scientific American reports that Google and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum have launched an online mapping project to provide evidence of atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan."

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

2007 Year-End Report on the U.S. Federal Judiciary

At the end of every year, the Chief Justice of the United States produces an annual report on the state of the U.S. federal judiciary.

In this, his third report, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. tackles issues such as improving communications with the Executive and Legislative Branches of government, judicial integrity, and judicial salaries.

The report ends with an appendix containing statistical information about the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Federal Courts of Appeal, the Federal District Courts, the Bankruptcy Courts, pre-trial services and post-conviction supervision.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

I Would Like To Thank All The Little People...

I found out this morning that I have won one of the CLawBies (Canadian Law Blog Awards) for 2007. In the category for Law Librarian Blog.

Woohoo!

I didn't even know I had been nominated.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:33 pm 1 comments links to this post

2008 List of Banished Words

Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie, Michigan has published its 33rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

"This year's list derives from more than 2,000 nominations received through the university's website (...) Word-watchers target pet peeves from everyday speech, as well as from the news, education, technology, advertising, politics, sports and more. A committee makes a final cut in late December. The list is released on New Year's Day. "

"Over the years, some copycat lists have made an appearance, but LSSU's list was first."

"This year, in a gesture of humanitarian relief, the committee restores 'truthiness,' banned on last year's list, to formal use. This comes after comedians and late-night hosts were thrown under the bus and rendered speechless by a nationwide professional writers' strike. The silence is deafening."
The list:
  • Perfect storm
  • Webinar (I have always hated that one)
  • Waterboarding
  • Organic
  • Wordsmith/wordsmithing
  • Author/authored
  • Post 9/11
  • Surge
  • Give back
  • 'Blank' is the new 'blank'
  • Black Friday
  • Back in the day
  • Random
  • Sweet
  • Decimate
  • Emotional
  • Pop
  • It is what it is
  • Under the bus
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. "
  • Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year (December 3, 2007): "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 (...) To tase is the only one that has any relation to legal issues."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:06 pm 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 International Privacy Ranking

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (U.S.) and Privacy International (United Kingdom) have published the results of their most recent annual survey of global privacy trends:
"More than 200 experts from around the world have provided materials and commentary. The participants range from eminent privacy scholars to high-level officials charged with safeguarding constitutional freedoms in their countries. Academics, human rights advocates, journalists and researchers provided reports, insight, documents and advice. In 2006 Privacy International took the decision to use this annual report as the basis for a ranking assessment of the state of privacy in all EU countries together with eleven non-EU benchmark countries. Funding for the project was provided by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust. Follow this link for more details of last year's results."

"The new 2007 global rankings extend the survey to 47 countries (from the original 37) and, for the first time, provide an opportunity to assess trends."

"The intention behind this project is two-fold. First, we hope to recognize countries in which privacy protection and respect for privacy is nurtured. This is done in the hope that others can learn from their example. Second we intend to identify countries in which governments and privacy regulators have failed to create a healthy privacy environment. The aim is not to humiliate the worst ranking nations, but to demonstrate that it is possible to maintain a healthy respect for privacy within a secure and fully functional democracy."
Among the major findings:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:18 pm 0 comments links to this post