Thursday, December 31, 2009

35th Annual List of Banished Words

Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste.Marie, Michigan has published its 35th annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness.

And the winners are:
  • Shovel-Ready
  • In These Economic Times
  • Stimulus
  • Toxic Assets
  • Too Big to Fail
  • Transparent/Transparency
  • Czar
  • Tweet
  • App
  • Sexting
  • Friend (as a Verb)
  • Teachable Moment
  • Bromance
  • Chillaxin’
  • OBAMA as a prefix as in Obamanomics, etc.

The complete archive of banished words is on the university website. The list started in 1976 and is based on submissions by the general public.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:

  • 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)."
  • 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."
  • 2008 List of Banished Words (January 2, 2008): "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."
  • 2009 List of Banished Words (December 31, 2008): "Among this year's list are: green anything; carbon footprint and carbon offset (...)"
  • Most Annoying and Overused Buzzwords (November 23, 2009): "There is an article in this week's edition of The Lawyers Weekly about all those irritating buzzwords that have invaded the professions, including the law. Among the phrases discussed in the article are: leverage, viral, disconnect and interface. And 'outside the box'. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:44 am 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blogging as Serious Scholarship Revisited

I have written before about whether law blogs, especially those of an academic bent, can be considered serious scholarship.

The Law Librarian Blog today revisited the issue in a post entitled Blogging as Thinking Out Loud Sometimes. Back in 2006, when Harvard had organized a conference on "Bloggership: How Blogs Are Transforming Legal Scholarship", many academic were very sceptical about the whole idea. But Law Librarian Blog now reports that many scholars who used to be less than enthusiastic have been changing their opinion about the blog format as a source of serious intellectual work.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update (May 11, 2006): "In the past few years, blogs have begun to affect the delivery of legal education, the production and dissemination of legal scholarship, and the practice of law. We are delighted that over twenty of the nation’s leading law professor bloggers have agreed to join with us for the first scholarly conference on the impact of blogs on the legal academy."
  • More Law Journals Adding Blog Companions (April 20, 2007): "A number of law journals are now leveraging weblog technology to present information and commentary online. Some are offering online weblog 'digests' which supplement the traditional printed journal, while others are solely online. The common thread (...) is a desire for a more timely forum to comment on new developments in the journal's area of coverage"
  • Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship in an Online Age (July 24, 2007): "Paul Horwitz, a visiting professor at the Notre Dame Law School, has recently published a paper on the open access Social Science Research Network entitled 'Evaluate Me!': Conflicted Thoughts on Gatekeeping in Legal Scholarship's New Age: «Bloggers, SSRN, and online law review supplements like this one have increasingly routed around and weakened, if not undermined, the traditional gatekeepers who certified legal scholars and their scholarship. Is this a good thing?» "
  • Is the Future of Legal Scholarship in the Blogosphere? (September 5, 2007): "That is the question asked in an article published last week in the Legal Times (...) «If you are looking for the future of legal scholarship, chances are that you may find it not in a treatise or the traditional law review but in a different form, profoundly influenced by the blogosphere (...) the legal blogosphere tends to be populated by midcareer professors who have tenure, are intimately familiar with traditional legal scholarship and see the Internet as a way to reach more readers in a less ritualized format». "
  • Should Legal Blogs Be Seen As Scholarship? (December 18, 2007): "That is the title of an article in the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly that canvasses the opinions of various Canadian legal scholars on just where blogs fit in. According to Bruce Archibald, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax, blogs «are a source of ideas which would have to be acknowledged in a footnote if quoted. On the other hand, they are not peer reviewed and would not have the added cachet or weight of that status.» Philip Bryden, dean of law at the University of New Brunswick, acknowledges that blogs offer «timely publication and ease of accessibility», but adds, «During my tenure as dean ... none of my colleagues has brought their blogging activity into the scholarly assessment process at UNB, but that is not to say it will not happen in the future.» However, University of Calgary law school dean Alastair Lucas argues that blog contributions can be scholarship. The law school is creating a blog dealing with Alberta courts and tribunals and those contributions «will require theory development, synthesis, analysis and clear argumentation (...) We also expect that some blog pieces will be expanded into law review articles and the like.» "
  • More and More Blawgs Cited by Law Journals (February 3, 2008): "According to some, this reflects the fact that blogs have become a more accepted form of legal scholarship in the academy, whereas others argue that blogs have little of intellectual substance to contribute to real scholarship."
  • Webcast of Georgetown Law Library Symposium on Blogs as Legal Scholarship (August 3, 2009): "On July 25, 2009, Georgetown Law Library organized a symposium that sought to tackle 3 questions: How can quality academic scholarship reliably be discovered? How can future researchers be assured of perpetual access to the information currently available in blogs?How can any researcher be confident that documents posted to blogs are genuine?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:06 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

2010 Horizon Report Preview of Emerging Technologies

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

The Project has published a preview of its 2010 report. The final official report will be out sometime in January 2010.

Among the technologies examined in the Preview are:
  • mobile computing
  • open content
  • e-books
  • simple augmented reality: "The idea is to blend, or augment, primarily location-based data accessed on the web with what we see in the real world. Wireless mobile devices are increasingly driving this technology into the mobile space where the applications offer the most promise. Initially, AR required unwieldy headsets and kept users largely tethered to their desktop computers. With the rise of smartphones and other increasingly powerful mobile devices, many equipped with high-quality cameras and GPS capabilities, AR is showing its legs in a number of applications."
  • gesture-based computing: "Devices that can accept multiple simultaneous inputs (like using two fingers on the Apple iPhone or the Microsoft Surface to zoom in or out) and gesture-based inputs like those used on the Nintendo Wii have begun to change the way we interact with computers. We are seeing a gradual shift towards interfaces that adapt to—or are built for—humans and human gestures. The idea that natural, comfortable movements can be used to control computers is opening the way to a host of input devices that look and feel very different from the keyboard and mouse."
  • visual data analysis
There is a Horizon Report Wiki where one can follow the discussions about what goes into the upcoming report. The Wiki provides links to Horizon research themes, earlier reports, press clippings, RSS feeds for top tech news sites, and delicious tags relating to the project itself.

For tech predictions relating to the legal world, Steven Matthews from Stem Legal Web Enterprises in Vancouver posted his Web Law Predictions for 2010 on the collaborative legal site Slaw.ca a few days ago.

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Best Law Firm Websites in Canada

The most recent issue of the Canadian Bar Association magazine The National has an article about Canada’s best law firm websites.

A panel of 9 legal technology experts made the selections, in categories for:
  • Big Firm (multi-jurisdictional)
  • Small firm/solo
  • British Columbia
  • Prairies
  • Ontario
  • Eastern Canada
  • Quebec
  • Blogs
  • Multimedia
  • Student/Recruiting
According to the panel, the elements that make for a good law firm website include simplicity, lots of news and updates, RSS feeds, links to blogs, good lawyer bios, and lots of information about how to contact practitioners.

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

Monday, December 21, 2009

The McLachlin Court at Ten

This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly takes a look at Beverley McLachlin's first decade as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

The article draws attention to her intellectual leadership and to the atmosphere of openness that she has fostered:

"As she approaches her 10th anniversary as chief justice on Jan. 7, 2010, her energy, stamina and discipline still impress and confound those around her. She keeps up a killer pace: presiding over weighty and complex appeals by day, smiling her way through frequent diplomatic, arts and charitable functions by night and traveling domestically and abroad to deliver 35 to 50 speeches annually to lay and professional audiences alike."

(...)

"Retired Supreme Court Justice Jack Major, who left the court in 2005, suggests that her successful efforts to reach out to the public might be the defining accomplishment of her first decade as chief justice."

" 'I think that she has presented the best public face of the Supreme Court to the public of any of the chief justices of my time,' he says. 'And I would say of all time, because the court’s judges were more and more isolated the further you go back in the court’s history. She is very conscious of going to law schools, Bar conventions, and actively participating and being available to groups and to people. That’s been a very big plus'. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bad News for UK's Intute Scholarly Resources Site

Intute, a British-based directory of scholarly resources for the higher education world, is losing its funding from JISC, the body that provides financial support to UK colleges and universities for digital technology projects:
"Professor David Baker, Deputy Chair of JISC and Chair of the portfolio review process says, 'Intute started in 1996 as the Resource Discovery Network, a cutting edge approach at the time to help librarians bring together quality resources online. The service pioneered one of the first online searchable catalogues for academic information and virtual training resources. In 2006, Intute launched as a service'. "

" 'As JISC services reach the end of their existing funding cycle it is always intended, wherever possible, that they move from being fully funded to being part-funded or fully sustained by other sources. In 2007, Intute’s funding was renewed and the service was given five years to establish funding from alternative sources. However, without a clearly identified alternative funding stream the continuation of Intute in its current form is therefore not considered viable beyond July 2010'."
After that date, Intute will still be available but with minimal maintenance.

Intute's current awareness service has been invaluable to me and many others. It covers every academic topic, including law.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:33 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Stephen Abram Leaving SirsiDynix

I was just writing about Stephen Abram the other day. He is the Vice-President of Innovation at SirsiDynix, one of the biggies in library automation.

My place of work uses SirsiDynix technology to run our library management system.

He is leaving SirsiDynix at the end of the year to take a position at Gale Cengage Learning as Vice-President for Strategic Partnerships and Markets.

Abram is a great speaker and ideas guy. I have seen him talk at quite a few conferences and library association meetings and he is always, let's say, infectiously enthusiastic about his topic.

He may not remember this but I called him up out of the blue at the beginning of the decade when he was with another company. He took 45 minutes out of his busy day to chat with me and offer career advice.

Let us hope he remains as excited as ever about libraries, the possibilities of technology and the fostering of excellence in librarianship.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Latest Issue of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

Vol. 4 no. 4 of Evidence Based Library and Information Practice has been released.

It is:
"an open access, peer reviewed journal published quarterly by the University of Alberta Learning Services and supported by an international team of editorial advisors. The purpose of the journal is to provide a forum for librarians and other information professionals to discover research that may contribute to decision making in professional practice. EBLIP publishes original research and commentary on the topic of evidence based library and information practice, as well as reviews of previously published research (evidence summaries) on a wide number of topics"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ireland Law Reform Commission Consultation Paper on Search Warrants

Wow.

The people at the Law Reform Commission of Ireland have been very busy little beavers in the past few days.

Last week, they published a consultation paper on electronic evidence. Then they brought out a report on criminal defences (self-defence, provocation, duress).

Yesterday, boom, another consultation paper, this time on search warrants and bench warrants.

The report points out that over 100 separate Acts and almost 200 Ministerial Regulations authorize the Irish police to apply to the District Court for search warrants. Many of these contain different rules about applying for, issuing and executing search warrants.

The Commission provisionally recommends these different pieces of legislation be replaced by a single generally-applicable framework Search Warrants Act, with standard rules on applying for, issuing and executing them.

The consultation document also looks at electronic applications for warrants, the need for greater consistency in time limits for the execution of warrants, the use of reasonable force in their execution, the seizure of material not explicitly referred to in a warrant, and legal professional privilege relating to material found under any search warrant.

The Commission takes a look at the situation in other jurisdictions, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:58 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 December 1st to 15th, 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 4:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

ReadWriteWeb Best Web Products of 2009

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

Ireland Law Reform Commission Report on Defences in Criminal Law

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has published a Report on Defences in Criminal Law.

The document deals with legitimate defence (self-defence), defence of the home, use of force in law enforcement, the defence of provocation, and the defences duress and necessity.

It looks at the situation in other countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and occasionally Canada.

It makes 46 specific recommendations for reform of the law, and includes a draft Criminal Law (Defences) Bill 2009 to implement these recommendations.

There is a summary of the recommendations on the Commission website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:22 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World" December 2009 Issue

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

The December 2009 issue has just been published on the LAC website.

It contains items from around the world about e-government, access to information laws, cloud computing, digital archiving, government technology conference reports, etc.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:07 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tech Predictions for 2010

Stephen Abram, Vice-President of Innovation at SirsiDynix, has summarized technology predictions from a number of sources, such as IDC and Gartner.

Another interesting source of top tech trends is LITA Blog, the blog of the Library and Information Technology Association, a division of the American Library Association.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:57 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Jurors Get Into Trouble for Going on the Net

According to the Baltimore Sun article Judges confounded by jury's access to cyberspace, courts are having trouble controlling what kind of information jurors are exposed to during trials and jury deliberations:
"Last week, a Maryland appeals court upended a first-degree murder conviction because a juror consulted Wikipedia for trial information. Earlier this year, the appeals judges erased a conviction for three counts of assault because a juror did cyberspace research and shared the findings with the rest of the jury. In a third recent trial, a juror's admission to using his laptop for off-limits information jeopardized an attempted-murder trial."

"On Friday, lawyers for Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon asked for a new trial in part because five of the jurors who convicted her of embezzlement Dec. 1 were communicating among themselves on Facebook during the deliberations period - and at least one of them received an outsider's online opinion of what the verdict should be. The 'Facebook Friends,' as Dixon's lawyers call them in court documents, became a clique that the lawyers argue altered jury dynamics."
The upcoming annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Windsor, Ontario (May 2010) has a panel devoted to the impact of Internet and web 2.0 technologies on what happens inside the courtroom and the jury deliberation room.

There has been a growing 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?

More background on the topic:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:53 pm 0 comments links to this post

Ireland Law Reform Commission Consultation Paper on Documentary and Electronic Evidence

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has released a consultation paper on Documentary and Electronic Evidence.

The paper makes wide-ranging provisional recommendations for reform of the law on the admissibility of manually-generated and electronic documents and records in both civil and criminal trials. The recommendations are aimed at ensuring more efficient court procedures.

The document adopts a strong comparative perspective, looking at the situation in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States for many of the issues under consideration.

Among the main proposals:
  • there should be a general presumption (subject to certain procedural safeguards) that documents and records, whether manual or electronic, should be admissible in civil and criminal cases. Currently, witnesses are often required to turn up on the morning of a court hearing in case they are needed to authenticate documents.
  • the law on documentary evidence should be technology-neutral, and there should in general be no difference between the rules concerning manual or computer generated documents and records.
  • the law should provide that, in general, documentary evidence can be admitted through a person who can demonstrate the integrity of the storage system used (including the storage system for electronic records) even if that person did not originally generate the documentary record
  • the Commission recommends that detailed, smart economy, technical standards for using and verifying electronic and digital signatures should be agreed by an expert working group. These would apply to specific commercial transactions, including those involving the State.
  • for recordings such as videos or CCTV, it should be clarified that any defects in their quality should not rule them inadmissible but should be simply a question of the weight to be given to the recording

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:38 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 12, 2009

UK Law Commission Report on Conspiracy

The United Kingdom's Law Commission has released its report on Conspiracy and Attempts.

The report makes recommendations to reform the law governing the criminal liability of those who agree, or attempt, to commit offences and includes a draft Conspiracy and Attempts Bill.

The Bill would:
  • Make it possible to bring a charge of conspiracy when conspirators deliberately take a risk that they will engage in criminal activity. Examples might be where they agree to handle large amounts of cash, realising that the cash might be the proceeds of crime. Under the present law, the conspirators cannot be convicted.
  • Abolish the outdated rule that prevents married couples from being charged with conspiring to commit a crime.
  • Introduce a new defence of reasonableness to a charge of conspiracy. It would apply, for example, to an undercover police officer entering into a conspiracy in order at a later point to expose the other participants.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

Comparison of Tools to Search Canadian Law Firm Websites

The Stream, the blog of Courthouse Libraries BC, has posted a comparison of 3 search engines for finding material on Canadian law firm websites.

The tools are:
  • Ted Tjaden's Custom Google Search of Canadian Law Firms
  • Fee Fie Foe Firm Canada
  • Lexology
To run the comparison, the 3 following searches were conducted:
  • the 2008 Supreme Court of Canada decision in Keays v. Honda Canada Inc., which clarified the nature of damages that can be awarded on the termination of employment
  • the new British Columbia civil rules of court, scheduled to come into force in July 2010
  • the Apology Act, which came into force in Ontario in April 2009, following the lead of several other provinces, including British Columbia in 2006
The Stream concludes:
"On features, Lexicology is certainly the strongest. You can filter searches by country, by topic, or by firm. Lexicology also offers a number of slick additional features, including the ability to build customized RSS feeds, to use sharing tools, and to link to related articles. In addition to its relatively limited coverage of Canadian firms, Lexicology’s main weakness is that you need to register to search at all (although registration is free)."

"As Canadian law firms publish more and more content to the web, tools that help us find this content will become more valuable. It's great to see specialized search tools like these ones show real promise"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Law via the Internet 2009 Conference Papers

Papers from the recent Law via the Internet conference in Durban, South Africa are gradually being posted on the conference website.

It was the 10th such conference.

The Law via the Internet conference is organized by the Legal Information Institutes (LIIs) from different countries and continents that together form the Free Access to Law Movement.

The goal of the LIIs is to maximize free access to public legal information such as legislation and case law from as many countries and international institutions as possible.

CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute, is a prominent member of the movement.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Do We Really Need Law Reform Commissions?

David Weisbrot is stepping down as president of the Australian Law Reform Commission, a position he has held for 10 years.

He was interviewed earlier this week on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:
"Law Reform Commissions -- do we really need them? If governments want to change the law, why can't they work out what they want by themselves? Do law reform commissions provide governments with camouflage, allowing them to further their political agendas with a veneer of impartiality?"

"After 10 years at the helm of the Australian Law Reform Commission David Weisbrot is stepping down. He says law reform commissions do indeed provide objective, arms length advice, and all sorts of individuals and businesses are happy to provide information that they would never share with government."

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

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

RCMP Complaints Commissioner Report on Tasering Death of Polish Immigrant

Paul Kennedy, chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, yesterday released his long awaited report into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport on October 14, 2007.

On that day, four RCMP officers responded to calls about erratic conduct by Dziekanski, who had arrived to begin a new life with his mother already living in British Columbia.

Mr. Dziekanski was described as exhausted and confused after being lost in the terminal for hours. When he brandished a stapler at the officers, he was shot with a Taser stun gun. He died of cardiac arrest.

In his summary, Kennedy writes:

"I do not accept the version of events as presented by the four responding RCMP members. The statements provided by the members are sparse in terms of detail of the events and the thought processes of the members as events unfolded. When tracked against the witness video, the recollections of the members fall short of a credible statement of the events as they actually unfolded. The fact that the members met together prior to providing statements causes me to further question their versions of events."

"An issue inextricably linked to the incident is the use of a conducted energy weapon (CEW), also known as a TASER®, by an RCMP member during the arrest of Mr. Dziekanski. The CEW is a prohibited firearm pursuant to the regulations under the Criminal Code of Canada.1 Debate pertaining to the overall appropriateness of the use of CEWs by police had been ongoing for some time prior to the YVR incident (and has been previously commented on by the Commission as indicated below), but this particular use of a CEW focused considerable attention and scrutiny on appropriate CEW usage and the nature of the CEW as a weapon."
The report makes numerous recommendations. Among others, Kennedy calls on the Mounties to review their taser quality-assessment program and improve training in awareness of the potentially dangerous nature of tasers. As well, the RCMP should do more to teach officers techniques to communicate with people who cannot meaningfully communicate with them. Dziekanski could not speak English.

Other Library Boy posts on the Taser weapon include:
  • Canada Orders Review of Use of Tasers After Video of Polish Immigrant's Death Released (November 15, 2007): "Yesterday's Globe and Mail recounts 'Tasered man's last moments' and provides links to the 10-minute amateur video of Dziekanski being shot with the Taser, convulsing and screaming in pain, being subdued by police and then going silent and no longer moving."
  • RCMP Told To Curb Taser Use (December 15, 2007): "Earlier this week, Paul Kennedy, head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, released an interim report outlining recommendations for the government on the Mounties' use of the Taser stun guns. The Commission is an independent civilian agency. Kennedy's report does not call for a moratorium on the weapon. However, it concludes that the federal police force needs to limit its use, increase training for officers and conduct more research on its effects."
  • Canadian Parliamentary Committee Report on Taser Stun Guns (July 29, 2008): "To prevent confidence in the RCMP from eroding further, the Committee [House of Commons Standing Public Safety and National Security] considers that the RCMP must react immediately by revising its policy on CEWs to stipulate that use of such weapons can be justified only in situations where a subject is displaying assaultive behaviour or represents a threat of death or grievous bodily harm. This immediate restriction is necessary given the persisting uncertainty about the effects of CEW technology on the health and safety of persons subjected to it, and the scarcity of independent, peer-reviewed research in this regard. The Committee also urges the RCMP to implement preventive methods designed to diminish the use of Taser guns during police interventions, in particular by enhancing accountability at the RCMP and improving officer training on intervention involving persons suffering from various problems, including bipolar disorder, autism and autism spectrum disorders, schizophrenia and drug addiction."
  • RCMP Report on Taser Usage (September 12, 2008): "The Toronto Star has obtained a study on the use of Taser stun guns that was commissioned by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner.The June 2008 study on "conducted energy weapons" (CEWs) was published by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, an independent civilian agency. The newspaper requested a copy under the Access to Information Act... The report finds that the RCMP relied too much on the advice of the weapon's American manufacturer and did not consult enough with medical professionals."

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

Academic Law Library Statistics 2007-2008

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has just released a report on Academic Law Library Statistics 2007-2008.

Among the highlights (all dollars are in US currency):
  • Out of 113 ARL university libraries, 74 responded to this survey
  • Law libraries reported median values of 345,935 volumes held and 8,033 gross volumes added. Also, these libraries employed the full-time equivalent of 2,129 staff members in the fiscal year 2007–2008
  • Responding libraries reported total expenditures of $215,630,657 ... materials expenditures made up the largest portion of the total, with 47% of aggregated
    expenses falling under a materials-related category
  • Law libraries reported a total of $20,345,053 on electronic materials, or a median of 22% of their total materials budgets. This includes a total of $17,200,532 on electronic serials

Among the institutions responding were McGill, Université de Montréal, Queen's, Saskatchewan, University of Western Ontario and York.

The ARL website contains surveys from previous years.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Statutory Review of the Sex Offender Information Registry Act

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security recently released its Statutory Review of the Sex Offender Information Registry Act:

"The primary purpose of the review was to determine what changes need to be made to SOIRA and related legislation to ensure that the national registry is best able to fulfill the purpose for which it was enacted, that is, to help police authorities in Canada to investigate sex offences. To that end, the Committee held three sessions during which it gathered evidence from representatives of the departments of Public Safety and Justice, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the RCMP, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, and Jim and Anna Stephenson, the parents of young Christopher, who was kidnapped and brutally murdered at the age of 11 by a sex offender on federal statutory release (...)"

"This report sets out the weaknesses in the national registry that were revealed over the course of these hearings and concludes with the Committee’s observations and
recommendations. In light of the review, the Committee feels that statutory amendments are required to SOIRA and related legislation if the police are to have a more effective investigatory tool. The recommendations are designed specifically to help police departments prevent crimes of a sexual nature, solve them more quickly, and more effectively supervise sex offenders in the community. The national registry that this report proposes is inspired by the provisions of the Ontario sex offender registry, which the police officers who appeared before the Committee consider superior, and eliminates the legislative obstacles brought to its attention that hamper the administration and effective operation of the national registry. It is important to make clear at the outset that, by themselves, the suggested changes cannot ensure the national registry’s effectiveness. That depends on the support and cooperation of the many stakeholders involved in ensuring public safety at the national, provincial/territorial and municipal levels."

The federal Sex Offender Information Registration Act (SOIRA) came into force in late 2004. It established a national registry containing information on offenders who have been convicted of a sex offence or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:05 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Statistics Canada on Canadian Incaceration Rates

Statistics Canada today released a report entitled Adult and youth correctional services: Key indicators:

"In 2008/2009, Canada's incarceration rate increased 1% over the previous year, driven largely by the continued increase in the number of adults held in remand in provincial/territorial jails while awaiting trial or sentencing (...)"

"It was the fourth consecutive annual increase in the incarceration rate. The four increases followed a decade of steady declines attributable to a decrease in the number of youth and federal offenders held in custody."

"Canada's incarceration rate has tended to be higher than those in most Western European countries, yet far lower than that of the United States."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen has begun.

It is possible to find webcasts, news and background documents on the conference website.

You may also want to check out the UN Climate Change Gateway and the Danish government's host country website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:08 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, December 07, 2009

British Parliamentary Publication on Use and Abuse of Official Language

The Public Administration Committee of the British House of Commons recently published a report entitled Bad Language: The Use and Abuse of Official Language that deals with the damage done by unclear, inaccurate and confusing language in official documents:

"The language used in public life is a frequent target for ridicule, whether by parliamentary sketchwriters making fun of ministers' speeches, or in fictional works such as the television series Yes Minister. Yet the language used by government and public bodies is important because it directly affects people's lives. It needs to enable those in government (and those who want to be in government) to explain clearly what the basis for a policy is, or to provide guidance on getting access to the range of public services. Language therefore determines how politicians and public servants relate to the people they are there to serve."

"We launched our short inquiry into official language to highlight the importance of clear and understandable language in government. In order to evaluate how effectively government uses language, we invited the public and Members of Parliament to submit examples of bad and good official language. Many of these are included in this report to illustrate how government uses (and misuses) language. We also held a public hearing to ask questions of the Plain English Campaign, the academic expert Professor David Crystal, and the political sketchwriters and columnists Matthew Parris and Simon Hoggart."

"The aim of our inquiry was not merely to highlight the worst examples of official language (although such examples have been by turns amusing and exasperating), but to explore why the language used by government matters. We examine the damaging effects that bad official language can have, before concluding on a more hopeful note with some suggestions for making official language clearer and more comprehensible, including a proposed remedy for citizens."
Related Library Boy posts that deal with plain language include:
  • Plain Language Resources for Law, Business, Government, and Life (August 9, 2005): "Clear language or plain language refers to jargon-free, understandable language. For the past 20 years or more, an international movement has been working to make the language used in law, health information, financial services, commerce and business more accessible. Plain language does NOT mean dumbed down or simplistic vocabulary."
  • Move Toward Plain Language in Canadian Court Decisions (November 7, 2005): "Saturday's Globe and Mail contains an article by Richard Blackwell entitled 'Doing the write thing: Judges used to put out decisions that were incomprehensible. Now they are sometimes even eloquent. The writing lessons didn't hurt'... As the article explains, the Supreme Court has been removing Latin words from its rulings and altering the format to make them easier to follow for people reading electronic versions on a website. The clear language push is also being promoted in Canada by such organizations as the National Judicial Institute and the Montreal-based Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice, where new judges have their writing critiqued by English professors."
  • Myths About the Complexity of Legal Language (November 17, 2006): "The Social Science Research Network has published a forthcoming article on Some Myths about Legal Language by Professor Peter Tiersma of the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles (...) Excerpts from the final section of the full-text: (...) 'Thus, the main obstacle to writing the law in plain English is that, unless the law itself is vastly simplified, it will require the use of so many words that there will be nothing plain about it. Most advocates of plain English recognize this problem. Although they continue to agitate for plainer language in legal documents, including statutes, they realize that many parts of the law are too complex to allow them to be fully and comprehensibly explained to ordinary citizens. They therefore advocate that those legal areas in which citizens have particular interest, like criminal law, be officially summarized and explained'."
  • George Orwell and Plain Language in Law (June 25, 2007): "Judith D. Fischer, University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, has an article on the Social Science Research Network entitled Why George Orwell's Ideas About Language Still Matter for Lawyers. The article deals with the use of clear language in legal writing but also analyses the use of deceit in legal and political discourse in the United States ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, December 05, 2009

New Canadian Law Blogs

Steven Matthews reports that he has added 18 new Canadian law blogs since September to his Lawblogs.ca list.

[Source: slaw.ca]

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

United Nations Bibliography on International Trade

The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has created a consolidated bibliography of works related to the Commission's work for the period 1968-2009.

It is broken down into different subjects:
  • General
  • International sale of goods
  • International commercial arbitration and conciliation
  • International transport
  • International payments (including independent guarantees and standby letters of credit)
  • Electronic commerce
  • Security interests (including receivables financing)
  • Procurement
  • Insolvency
  • International construction contracts
  • International countertrade
  • Privately financed infrastructure projects
UNCITRAL is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly of the United Nations with the general mandate to further the progressive harmonization and unification of the law of international trade.

It deals with the laws applicable to private parties in international transactions. It is not involved with "state-to-state" issues such as anti-dumping, countervailing duties, or import quotas.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:12 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, December 03, 2009

TV Ontario Interview with Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin

The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, was interviewed earlier this week on The Agenda, a current affairs show on the TVO (TV Ontario) public educational network.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Call for Nominations: Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL / ACBD) has opened the nomination period for the next Annual Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing.

The award was created:

"means of acknowledging the work that is done by publishers to provide the legal profession with high quality materials for use in understanding and researching the law (...) "

"The award may be given for a wide variety of publishing endeavours – a specific book, series, service, or a particularly innovative publishing venture. All formats are eligible, including print, electronic, and audio-visual. The intent is to recognize excellent products and services, whether published in a traditional format or with new technology. English- and French-language publications will be considered."

The deadline for nominations is January 15, 2010.
  • Nominations must include the name of the publisher, the title of the nominated work, and an explanation of why the nominated publisher and work are worthy of being granted the award. The explanation should, at a minimum, address how the nominated work is of use to the Canadian legal profession in understanding and researching the law.
  • Nominations must be made by a member of CALL or publisher. Publishers may nominate their own work.
  • All nominations must include the names of two CALL members who support the nomination.
  • Eligible works must have been published in the last two years, or in the case of a series or ongoing work, must have achieved a particular goal within the last two years.
Submissions should be sent to the CALL Executive Member-at-Large who is Chair of the Award Committee:

Susan Jones
Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society
1815 Upper Water Street, 7th Floor
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 1S7
Fax: (902) 422-1697
Email: sjones [AT] nsbs.org

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:04 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 November 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 1:01 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Third Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100

The ABA Journal (American Bar Association) has put together its third annual list of the best legal blawgs and is asking readers to vote for the best in each of 10 categories.

Among the "nominees" are 2 Canadian blawgs:
But why no nomination for Slaw.ca? Grrrrrr.... :(

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