Saturday, October 31, 2009

UK Law Commission Consultation on Intestacy

The Law Commission in the United Kingdom has just published a consultation paper reviewing the law of intestacy and family provision claims on death.

The intestacy rules govern the inheritance of assets where a person dies without leaving a will disposing of the whole of his or her property.

The paper reviews the current law, discusses options for reform and puts forward questions for consultees, including provisional proposals for reform. Areas highlighted for potential reform include:

  • the entitlement of a surviving spouse, where the deceased also left children (perhaps from another relationship), or other relatives;
  • whether certain cohabitants should have a place in the intestacy rules, the conditions which have to be met, and how much of the estate they should receive;
  • trusts for children on intestacy and the effect of adoption on a child’s entitlement;
  • family provision claims by adult children;
  • the distinction made in the intestacy rules between full brothers and sisters and half-brothers and sisters;
  • the criteria to be met by dependants applying for family provision;
  • family provision claims where the deceased did not have his or her permanent home in England and Wales.
The Law Commission has prepared an overview of the Consultation Paper. As well, the National Centre for Social Research was commissioned to conduct focus group research for this project (results dated March 31, 2009).

The consultation period closes on 28 February 2010.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:05 pm 1 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ontario Law Librarians Profiled in US Publication

The most recent issue of AALL Spectrum, the monthly publication of the American Association of Law Libraries, contains an article entitled Doing More with Less - Innovative ideas from small law libraries by Dave Whelan, legal information manager for the Law Society of Upper Canada in Toronto:
"A tight economy highlights a common feature in smaller law libraries—the need to do more with less. One-person librarians are used to doing every type of library task
because there is no one else to do it. Even with limited staff time and the same budget limitations that many law libraries are experiencing, these creative librarians are finding ways to innovate."

"Some are using open source software to create inexpensive solutions. Others are using novel applications and relationships to extend their reach beyond traditional library services."

"The libraries profiled below are all in Ontario, Canada, and are associated with law associations ... There are 48 law association libraries spread out across the province, spanning over 900 miles from east to west."
The article looks at local innovations relating to open source circulation tools, remote access software to manage electronic legal research by lawyers at remote locations, creation of RSS feeds and continuing legal education.

Most of the people mentioned in the article are members of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries.

The full table of contents for this AALL Spectrum issue is available on the publication website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:53 pm 1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Statistics Canada Juristat October 2009 Issue

Statistics Canada has just published the October 2009 of its Juristat bulletin.

The periodical provides analysis and detailed statistics on a variety of justice-related topics and issues.

This issue has articles on:
  • rates of police-reported violence against seniors
  • homicide in Canada in 2008
  • trends in police-reported serious assaults
  • parenting after separation and divorce
  • a profile of victim services in Canada during 2007/2008

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:42 pm 1 comments links to this post

UK Law Reports Get Their Own YouTube Channel

The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting (ICLR) in the United Kingdom, the people who bring us the authoritative and official Law Reports, have their very own YouTube video channel.

Videos include interviews with the Law Report editors, a history of the ICLR, a video on the process of how a case goes from trial to official report, and a brief introduction to case law research using both online databases and hard copy reference works.

And check out their wonderfully produced video A Tale of Two Citations:
"This short featurette featuring two barristers. One of them serenely competent and well-prepared with the proper law reports to support her case, and the other rather less well-organised, chaotically downloading and printing transcripts from the internet, much to the judges irritation".

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Canadian Bar Association Article on Technology in Canadian Courts

CBA PracticeLink, a publication of the Canadian Bar Association, features a Guide to Courtroom Technology in Canada :


"Certain high-profile trials have proven the value of technology usage in courtrooms. Yet most trials in Canada still do without even common technologies, like video conferencing, document management systems and document displays. "

"And this absence spawns dissatisfaction."

It looks at technologies for e-discovery and e-trials as well as at the barriers to their wider adoption.

At the Supreme Court of Canada where I work, we have gone through a courtroom modernization to become e-trial-friendly. In May 2008, the Osgoode Hall Law School blog The Court interviewed Louise Meagher, the Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada, about the project.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 26, 2009

American Library Association Website on Google Book Settlement

The American Library Association (ALA) has put together a website on the proposed Google Book Settlement.

In late 2008, Google and associations representing U.S. authors and publishers came to a deal to end a class action lawsuit for copyright infringement launched against the search giant.

Google is scanning millions of books, including many still covered by copyright, in order to make them available over the Internet.

The proposed settlement is still before the courts in New York City.

The ALA site contains:
  • official settlement documents
  • summaries and analysis
  • court "briefs" (facta)
  • news stories

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fifth International Symposium on Wikis

WikiSym 2009, the Fifth International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration, started today in Orlando, Florida. It runs until Tuesday.

The proceedings of the event are available online.

One of the presentations is entitled Wiki for Law Firms by Urs Egli (Egli Partners Attorneys-at-Law, Zurich, Switzerland) and Peter Sommerlad (HSR Hochschule für Technik, Rapperswil, Switzerland).

[Source: ResourceShelf]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:42 pm 0 comments links to this post

Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2009

The Technorati site has published its most recent State of the Blogosphere report:
"Since 2004, our annual study has followed the growth and trends in the blogosphere. For 2009, we took a deeper dive into the entire blogosphere, with a focus on professional bloggers. This year’s topics include: professional blogging activities, brands in the blogosphere, monetization, twitter & micro-blogging and bloggers’ impact on US and World events."
The report features many online interviews, including one with Globe and Mail technology journalist Mathew Ingram.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

New York Law School Seminar on Google Book Settlement

The Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School recently organized an event called D Is For Digitize on the topic of the proposed class action settlement between Google and U.S. publisher and author organizations.

Those organizations objected to the search giant’s mass scanning of in-copyright books.

The event brought together academics and lawyers who looked at the settlement through the lenses of copyright, civil procedure, antitrust, information policy, literary culture, and the publishing industry.

Videos for many of the presentations are available online.

LibraryLaw Blog has blogged the event.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the dispute include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Research Guide on International Trade Law

The GlobaLex collection at New York University has just updated its Guide on the Harmonization of International Commercial Law.

It is written by Duncan E. Alford, Director of the Law Library and Associate Professor of Law at the University of South Carolina School of Law.

"Since World War II, international trade has grown exponentially and with it the importance of international law. With the increased business between companies in different nations, the need for increased harmonization of commercial laws has become apparent. Knowledge of international commercial law has become important for the transactional lawyer, even those outside major metropolitan areas. Several years ago, LexisNexis and the International Bar Association jointly sponsored a survey of attorneys in eight countries, including the United States. The results of the survey reveal that while the practice of law is still largely domestic, the convergence of laws in certain areas, particularly trade and investment, is occurring. The vast majority of the attorneys surveyed believed that the international standardization of trade and investment law would be beneficial."

"This guide collects sources for these harmonized commercial laws and leads the legal researcher to Internet sources on this complicated area of international law. The guide begins with a discussion of the intergovernmental organizations (in some cases supranational) whose purpose is to harmonize commercial laws. The guide then identifies the important treaties that have harmonized commercial law, particularly the law of the sale of goods, and finally identifies research institutes that support the harmonization of commercial law. I have purposefully excluded conventions dealing with the transport of goods, the taking of evidence, insolvency, arbitration and procedural matters from this article. Documents of GATT and the World Trade Organization are also excluded."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Impartiality of Juries Threatened by Web?

The following article caught my attention the other day: Googling jurors warning from top Scottish lawyer.
"Donald Findlay QC, one of Scotland's top criminal lawyers, has warned that the impartiality of the jury system is at risk due to jurors using internet search engines and has warned that the Government cannot continue with its 'ostrich-like' attitude to the problem (...) "

"Judges and sheriffs routinely warn jurors that they must not discuss evidence outside the courtroom and that they must only reach their verdict based on admissible facts. But Mr Findlay says judges are failing to warn jurors not to use their mobile phones, or computers at home overnight, to look up the name of an accused, or examine the scene of the crime using Google Earth."
I find the whole topic fascinating.

In fact, I recently proposed a panel discussion at next year's annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) in Windsor on the impact of social networking media and Google on jury trials. My panel idea has just been accepted by the organizing committee.

There have been a number of incidents in the United States where lawyers have asked the presiding judge at a trial to disqualify a juror for misconduct or to declare a mistrial because of what jurors have posted on their personal blogs, Twitter accounts or Facebook pages.

There have also been concerns about jurors doing online research, "visiting" a crime scene on Google Earth or following Twitter or blog feeds written by reporters or others during a trial. Another concern: tipping off witnesses to proceedings in the courtroom before they testify.

In this country, we have not faced the same problems as those that have occurred south of the border. But are Canadian judges anticipating such problems? How does a judge handle all of this?

For the panel, I am trying to get a judge, a jury expert and a reporter who has liveblogged a jury trial.

More background on the topic:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Canadian Legal Publisher 2010 Price Trends

The Vendor Liaison Committee of the Canadian Association of Law Librarians (CALL) has compiled some preliminary information about price trends for Canadian law publications in 2010.

There is information for publishers such as Canada Law Book, Carswell, CCH, Éditions Yvon Blais, Emond Montgomery Publications, Irwin Law, LexisNexis, SOQUIJ and Wilson & Lafleur.

Compare with last year's price trends.

More information on library-vendor relations can be found on the Committee's section of the CALL website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 19, 2009

EU Publications Office Digitizes All Its Documents Back to 1952

The Publications Office of the European Union has digitized millions of pages from all of its publications since 1952 and made them available for free via the EU Bookshop Digital Library:

"The Publications Office's archives have long represented a veritable treasure trove of European history. These publications can once again see the virtual light of day through the Publications Office Digital Library."

"The Publications Office Digital Library was a response to a growing demand to digitise out-of-print publications. In 2007, the Publications Office launched a PDF-on-demand service, wherein users could request publications to be retrieved from the archives and scanned as needed. They turned out to be in such high demand that within six months the service was saturated. To better serve the users, it was decided to scan the industrial volumes of the entire archive."

"The result – less than two years later – is an electronic library of more than 14 million pages of web-optimised PDFs progressively available to the public free of charge."
To find archival material, use the EU Bookshop search engine, making sure to select the "Digital Library (Archive)" checkbox.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

UN Study on International Organ Trafficking

The United Nations and the Council of Europe have released a new study that calls for an international convention to combat organ trafficking.

The study is entitled Trafficking in organs, tissues and cells and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of the removal of organs:

"The Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women was concerned that organ trafficking and trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal, long considered to be myths, seem to be realities all over the world. These phenomena exist for many reasons, but particularly because of extreme poverty and discrimination, including gender discrimination. In general, victims of trafficking in human beings tend to be women and children who know far too little about their rights or how to appropriately assert them. It is important to look into the existence of a gender aspect with regard to trafficking in human beings for the purpose of organ removal in particular, as well as with regard to live donators implicated in trafficking in organs, tissues and cells."

"The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women decided to join their efforts and agreed that the study should be prepared jointly in the framework of co-operation. As well as considering both the medical and legal aspects, it was agreed also to look at ethical problems and organisational and other measures, with a view to providing an overview of the current legal and factual situation, including from a gender aspect, examining existing measures to combat both forms of crime and exploring further avenues to fight them."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:23 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reminder: Supreme Court of Canada Facta For Upcoming Hearings Available Online

The electronic facta filed by the parties in cases before the Supreme Court of Canada are available on the Court's website. This has been so for cases filed since February 2009.

For example, if you want to find out about the arguments of the parties in upcoming hearings on the fall 2009 season, you only need to click on the style of cause (party name) link for a particular case.

For example, on November 16, the Court will hear an appeal from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation over the issue of a publication ban in a murder trial. There is a link to the facta in this case in the left-hand navigation column under the category "SCC Case Information".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

"Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World" October 2009 Issue

The Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World newsletter, published by Library and Archives Canada, "highlights issues pertaining to government and recordkeeping practices in the public and private sector".

The October 2009 issue has just been published on the Library and Archives Canada website.
It includes:
  • news items from Canada and around the world
  • announcements of upcoming events (meetings, workshops)
  • project and product news in areas such as digitization, archives, e-discovery and databases
  • surveys
  • selected papers and readings

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Family Violence in Canada: A Statistical Profile

The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics has published its twelfth annual Family Violence in Canada report:

"Each year the report has a different focus. This year, the focus of the report is a profile of shelters that provide residential services to women and children fleeing abusive situations. Data for this profile come from the Transition Home Survey, a biennial census of residential facilities for female victims of family violence in Canada."

"In addition, using police-reported data, the report also presents fact sheets, data tables and figures examining spousal violence, family violence against children and youth, family violence against seniors (aged 65 years and older), and family-related homicides."

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

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CanLII 2008 Annual Report

CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute, recently published its annual report for 2008.

CanLII, a not-for-profit organization created by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, makes primary sources of Canadian law freely available via the Internet.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

2008-2009 Annual Report of the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued its annual report for 2008-2009.

It covers the period from 1 August 2008 to 31 July 2009 and is the fifth annual report of the institution to the United Nations.


"The Court continued to be seized of four situations during the reporting period. The situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic were each previously referred to the Court by those States parties to the Rome Statute themselves. The situation in Darfur, the Sudan, had been referred by the Security Council. Six other situations on four continents were under preliminary analysis by the Office of the Prosecutor, namely, those in Afghanistan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Kenya and Palestine. No decision on whether to open an investigation in those situations was taken."

The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.

More information about the structure, activities, and legal texts of the Court are available on its website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

2009 Federal Annual Report on Reviews of Possible Miscarriages of Justice

In the most recent Weekly Checklist of federal government publications, the 2009 annual report by Justice Canada on applications for ministerial review in cases of possible miscarriages of justice is listed:

"Since 1892, the Minister of Justice has had the power, in one form or another, to review a criminal conviction under federal law to determine whether there may have been a miscarriage of justice."

"Currently, the conviction review process begins when a person submits an application for ministerial review (miscarriages of justice), also known as a 'conviction review application'."

"The application for ministerial review must be supported by 'new matters of significance' – usually important new information or evidence that was not previously considered by the courts. If the Minister is satisfied that those matters provide a reasonable basis to conclude that a miscarriage of justice likely occurred, the Minister may grant the convicted person a remedy and return the case to the courts – a referral of the case to a court of appeal to be heard as a new appeal, or a direction for a new trial."

(...)

"Under section 696.5 of the Criminal Code, the Minister of Justice is required to submit an annual report to Parliament regarding applications for ministerial review (miscarriages of justice) within six months of the end of the fiscal year. This is the seventh annual report, and it covers the period April 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009. Under the regulations, the report must address the following matters:

  • the number of applications for ministerial review made to the Minister;
  • the number of applications that have been abandoned or that are incomplete;
  • the number of applications that are at the preliminary assessment stage;
  • the number of decisions that the Minister has made;
  • and any other information that the Minister considers appropriate".
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 12:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blog Series on Law-Related E-Books

Eugene Volokh, a law prof who contributes to the collective Volokh Conspiracy blog, has completed an multi-part series on the future of legal publishing and the trend towards e-books.

The parts are:

  1. The Future of Books Related to the Law?
  2. Why Legal Books Are Likely To Go Electronic (Pretty Soon)
  3. What Manufacturers and Publishers Need To Do To Facilitate The Move to Electronic Delivery of Legal Books — Lifting Technological Barriers
  4. What Manufacturers and Publishers Need To Do To Facilitate The Move to Electronic Delivery of Legal Books — Reducing Costs to Compete With Used Books
  5. What Manufacturers and Publishers Need To Do To Facilitate The Move to Electronic Delivery of Legal Books — Competing with Library Lending
  6. How E-Readers Can Change the Content of Legal Books
  7. E-Readers, and Going Beyond the Current Publication System for Scholarly Law Books
  8. Could the Advent of E-Readers Lead Law Journals to Move Into E-Book Publishing?
  9. How Might the Advent of E-Readers Affect the Creation and Distribution of Legal Textbooks?

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:36 pm 1 comments links to this post

2008-2009 Annual Report of the Public Service Commission of Canada

Last week, the Public Service Commission of Canada filed its 2008-2009 annual report with the federal Parliament.

The Commission's role is to safeguard the integrity of the public service staffing system and the political neutrality of the public service.

The Commission also tabled 5 audit reports into federal government departments, including 3 that are justice-related:

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

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of September 16th to 30th, 2009 is now available on the Court website.

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

But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library 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 12:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 09, 2009

Access 2009 Library Tech Conference Presentations Available

Videos of the presentations from last week's Access 2009 conference at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) are available on the UPEI website.

The Access conference likes to refer to itself as "Canada’s Premier Library Technology Conference."

The 2009 conference program as well as links to past conferences are available online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Web 2.0 Technologies Help Ontario Government Librarians Stay Relevant

An Itbusiness.ca article explains how librarians at the Ontario Legislative Assembly and the Fire Marshall's Office are using Web 2.0 or social networking media such as Twitter and RSS to make sure their services remain relevant:
"Whether it’s Twitter, RSS feeds, podcasting or social bookmarking services, librarians are recognizing that information comes from more multiple sources these days. From politicians to firefighters, government workers are turning to new media for the news that matters to them and librarians are keeping pace with Web portals that deliver social media mash-ups."
Earlier Library Boy posts about Web 2.0 in government include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

2008 Annual Report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act

This week, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada published her annual report to Parliament on the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the country's private sector privacy law.

The report focuses a lot on privacy issues relating to the use of social networking technologies such as instant messaging and Facebook.

It also looks at privacy complaint investigations in the last year, emerging technology issues and the Commissioner’s efforts to encourage the development of international privacy standards.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:44 am 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Ontario Privacy Commissioner: Crown Attorneys Must Stop Collecting Private Info on Prospective Jurors

Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, yesterday criticized Crown attorneys for collecting personal information of potential jurors beyond what is necessary under the Juries Act and Criminal Code.

Dr. Cavoukian announced her decision in the wake of a major investigation into whether the privacy rights of prospective jurors were breached when the police conducted sometimes extensive background checks on behalf of the Crown.

According to the investigation, one third, or 18 of the 55 Crown attorney offices in Ontario, had received background information about prospective jurors since March 31, 2006.

Under the Juries Act and Criminal Code, an individual is ineligible to serve as a juror if they have been convicted of an indictable offence for which they have not received a pardon. The Criminal Code also allows a juror to be successfully challenged for cause by the Crown and defence counsel if they have been convicted of an offence for which a term of imprisonment exceeding 12 months has been given. The investigation found that practices had developed across Ontario that, in some cases, went far beyond these limits.

Dr. Cavoukian has made a series of recommendations:

"Based on the findings of the investigation, the Commissioner is ordering Crown attorneys to cease collecting any personal information of potential jurors beyond that which is permitted under the Juries Act and the Criminal Code, relevant to criminal conviction eligibility. Further, the Commissioner is recommending a fundamental shift in the way that prospective jurors are screened in Ontario. Proposing a complete overhaul of the existing system, the Commissioner has recommended that MAG [Attorney General], through its Provincial Jury Centre (PJC), be the only central body to screen jurors who are ineligible for jury duty, based on criminal conviction. As the single entity already in receipt of the names and personal information of all prospective jurors, the PJC is the obvious candidate to perform this role. Operating from a single location in London, Ontario, the PJC is also in an ideal position to implement strict privacy and security measures that can be strongly enforced, thereby providing a consistently high degree of protection for personal information." [from the press release]
Cavoukian adds that where Crown attorneys do obtain criminal conviction information relating to prospective jurors, they should share this information with defence counsel.

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

American Library Associations Publish Summary of Google Books Litigation Court Filings

The Association of Research Libraries, the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries have put together a document entitled The Google Books Settlement: Who Is Filing And What Are They Saying?

It provides a summary of the hundreds of filings that have been submitted to the federal district court in New York that is presiding over the controversial Google Books Settlement.

The Google Books Settlement is intended to put an end to a class action lawsuit brought against Google by organizations representing authors and publishers who objected to the search giant’s mass scanning of in-copyright books.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the dispute include:

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

Monday, October 05, 2009

Quebec Bar Association Launches TV Series

This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly features an article about a new television series on the law being co-produced by the Quebec Bar Association and Quebec public educational broadcaster Télé-Québec.

The series is called Le Droit de savoir:
"Aimed at the general public, the tastefully-done show tackles a wide range of topics, from the rights and responsibilities of property owners and the legal myths surrounding common-law unions to the legal ABCs of launching a business and the role and responsibilities of professional regulators, all of which is interspersed with legal tidbits and profiles of Quebec lawyers who made a mark in their practice."

"The themes were chosen by the co-producers of the show — the Barreau and Télé-Québec — with input from Educaloi, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to inform Quebecers of their rights and obligations by providing legal information in plain language. Through its popular website, Educaloi was able to determine the most-raised legal questions."
Personal note: in the mid-90s, I worked as a researcher on the show Droit de parole, a weekly current affairs town hall program on Télé-Québec, then known as Radio-Québec.

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

Alberta Law Reform Institute Report on Wills

The Alberta Law Reform Institute recently issued its report on The Creation of Wills.

It makes a number of recommendations for changing the Alberta Wills Act:
  • A court should be able to validate a will if a person makes a reasonable but imperfect attempt to meet the requirements for creating a will
  • The age of testamentary capacity should remain at 18 years, subject to the current statutory exceptions allowing a minor to make a will if the minor is married, partnered, a parent or serving in the Canadian Forces. In addition, a court should be able to validate a will for any minor who applies for approval of the terms of a specific will
  • A court should not be able to create a will for a person who has lost their mental capacity to make or change a will
  • There should continue to be special rules for military wills
  • A will must still be signed at its end or foot, subject to the current statutory saving provision
  • Where an inheritance is lost because the beneficiary was also a witness to the will, a court should be able to validate the gift if there was no improper or undue influence on the will-maker
For many of the issues listed above, the report examines the legislative situation in other Canadian jurisdictions, as well as in Australia, England and New Zealand.

The Alberta Law Reform Institute was established in 1968 by the Attorney General of Alberta, the Governors of the University of Alberta and the Law Society of Alberta. Its role is to conduct research into law and the administration of justice and to promote law reform.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, October 02, 2009

European Court of Human Rights Launches New RSS Feeds

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, France, has added new RSS feeds for its most recent judgments and decisions. One can subscribe to the news feeds by respondent state (there are 47 states that accept the ECHR's jurisdiction).

These have been added to the feeds introduced in 2007 for general news, webcasts of public hearings and monthly information notes on cases of particular legal interest.

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

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:35 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, October 01, 2009

First Day of New United Kingdom Supreme Court

Today was the first day of business for the new Supreme Court in the United Kingdom, now that country's highest court.

The House of Lords no longer exercises any judicial function as the highest appellate court of the United Kingdom since July 30th, 2009.

There is even a blog devoted to the infant institution: UKSC Blog.

For background:
  • It took 142 years, but at last Bagehot has got his way -The birth of the supreme court is not just for show. The removal of judges from parliament is a victory for liberty and law (The Guardian, July 30, 2009): "There was no mob to be seen or heard in the House of Lords this week. No sign of a tumbril, or the guillotine either. The untoppled throne still glistened as it always does amid the dark grandeur of Pugin's neo-gothic debating chamber. Voices were, as usual, respectful and measured. Yet be in no doubt that the handful of us who watched or participated in this week's proceedings were in the midst of a very British constitutional revolution. For the past threedays the judicial committee of the House of Lords – that's the 12 law lords to you and me – has been winding up 133 continuous years of lawful business in the Palace of Westminster. Yesterday, in a mix of rulings that ranged from Debbie Purdy's assisted suicide application to the argument about which member of Procul Harum owns the royalties to A Whiter Shade of Pale, the lords delivered their last judgments. A Michelangelo-style day of wrath, though, this was not. In most respects it was judicial business as usual."
  • A potted history of the Law Lords (BBC News, July 30, 2009): "As the Law Lords ruled on Thursday that there must be a clarification of the law on assisted suicide, following a legal challenge by multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, they were handing down their final judgements from the House of Lords. At the same time, an ancient constitutional anomaly was coming to an end. "
  • New Home (The Lawyer, July 15, 2009): "In 1876 the Appellate Jurisdiction Act created the judicial function of the House of Lords, the highest court in England and Wales. At the end of the month the Law Lords will pack up their judicial robes and wigs for the summer break, but they will have heard their last case in the House of Lords. When they return in October they will be supreme justices in the newly opened Supreme Court, sitting in Middlesex Guildhall in Parliament Square. On the surface it appears to be little more than a symbolic move, but in reality it marks the beginning of a new era for the judiciary, which is determined to highlight its transparency credentials."
  • UK Supreme Court judges sworn in (BBC, October 1st, 2009): "The £59m Supreme Court has opened six years after it was first announced. Its first members were - until last month - the Law Lords who would have otherwise heard the same cases in the House of Lords. But the constitutional change that led to the Supreme Court's creation means that Parliament's lawmakers and the judges charged with overseeing legislation have been separated."
  • Five things about the Supreme Court (BBC, October 1, 2009): "The £59m court is situated opposite the Houses of Parliament at the renovated Middlesex Guildhall (...) The air of formality is lifted by the bright carpet, designed by Sir Peter Blake, a pop artist best known for his work on the cover of the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band album."
  • Supreme court: Britain's October revolution (editorial, The Guardian, October 1, 2009): "The bigger question is whether today marks a substantive change in the way the highest court of the land does its work, perhaps putting the judges on an institutional collision course with government, with potentially dramatic consequences. Under the terms of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 which established the supreme court, there is no reason why this should be so."
  • Justices swear themselves in as Supreme Court opens (The Times, October 1, 2009): "Yes, yes, but what about the hats? As the Justices sat at the semi-circular bench in Court 1 in front of a small but select audience of their families and court staff — the room had more the air of a register office wedding than the crucible of legal history — it was immediately noticeable that the 10 male Justices were all bare-headed while the one female Justice, Baroness Hale of Richmond, wore a hat, a soft, low-brimmed black velvet number. Was this a reflection of some arcane nugget of historic symbolism, a tradition so long established that its origins are all but forgotten? No: apparently Lady Hale just fancied wearing a hat. Lord Phillips said: 'We had some discussion as to whether we would have hats. She thought she would like to have a hat. The rest of us thought we would not'. "

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