Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Library of Parliamernt Legislative Summary of the Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act

The Library of Parliament has published a legislative summary of of Bill C-48: An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to the National Defence Act (Protecting Canadians by Ending Sentence Discounts for Multiple Murders Act):
"The bill amends the Criminal Code with respect to the parole inadmissibility period for offenders convicted of multiple murders. This is done by affording judges the opportunity to make the parole ineligibility periods for multiple murders consecutive rather than concurrent. The bill also makes consequential amendments to the National Defence Act."

"Consecutive parole ineligibility periods for multiple murderers will not be mandatory under the provisions of Bill C-48. Judges will be left with the discretion to consider the character of the offender, the nature and circumstances of the offence, and any jury recommendations before deciding upon whether consecutive parole ineligibility periods are appropriate. The bill will require that judges state orally or in writing the basis for any decision not to impose consecutive parole ineligibility periods on multiple murderers (...)"

"Vigorous debate has surrounded both Bill C-48 and its predecessor, Bill C-54 (...) Sharon Rosenfeldt, a founder of the group Victims of Violence, has applauded Bill C-54. In referring to its application to serial killers, she has said that, while the bill would apply to a small number of perpetrators, these are the killers that 'cause the greatest amount of fear, controversy and unrest in our judicial system and the Canadian public ' mainly because of the horrendousness of their crimes and the number of lives they can take before being apprehended."

"One editorial has said that the bill is very reasonable, stating that the bill will acknowledge that the lives of all of a killer's victims are equally valuable and merit separate sentences of equal length. According to the editorial, the bill recognizes that some criminals are unredeemable and should never be let out of prison, but it does leave hope for some offenders, thus respecting the tripartite mandate of incarceration - punishment, public safety, and rehabilitation. This editorial goes on to say that not all killers are unredeemable and the hope of making parole offers them a tremendous incentive to rehabilitate themselves, making for a much safer atmosphere for the corrections officials who work among them."

"Professor Doug King of Mount Royal University has stated that it is unlikely that tougher parole rules will have any deterrent value. He has said that the measure may prove to be popular, but it is doubtful that it will make us safer. Professor King also points out that, while punishment is one component behind sentencing, it is not the only reason why people are placed in prison."

The document also looks at the law in a number of other jurisdictions: England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, United States, New Zealand.

The progress of the bill can be followed on the LEGISinfo website. It is now in front of a House of Commons committee.

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

November Message from the President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries

The President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL), Rosalie Fox, recently sent members her most recent President's Letter.

Among the highlights:
  • The deadline for nominations has been extended for the Denis Marshall Memorial Award For Excellence in Law Librarianship and for Honoured Member
  • there is still time to send in nominations for the Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing
  • CALL is organizing a New Law Librarian’s Institute at the University of Western Ontario from June 5-10, 2011. It will consist of an intensive week of substantive law sessions (First Year Law 101) with mentoring and instruction on law librarianship and legal research instruction and methodology
  • the CALL website is being redesigned - the redesign project has a blog that includes information for people who want to be usability guinea pigs
  • the CALL executive is considering running a salary survey that would also include non-members working in law libraries across the country. The last salary survey dates back to 2006
  • the annual general meeting will be extended at the 2011 annual conference being held in mid-May in Calgary: the meeting will begin on Sunday afternoon, and continue on Tuesday. This is in response to complaints that recent AGMs have been too compressed and rushed

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

Crisis in Canadian Court Interpreting?

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly reports that a shortage of skilled interpreters is creating major problems with the administration of justice:
"The provision of interpreter services is a basic right of anyone who is a party or witness in court proceedings under s. 14 of the Charter, which guarantees the right of an accused to understand the proceedings (...)"

"But fulfilling those rights is difficult because of a shortage of qualified, competent interpreters, especially in the languages of recent waves of immigrants from countries such as Somalia and Cambodia. Often the courts use people who speak the language, but aren’t qualified as court interpreters."

"In Alberta the issue has become so serious that the provincial justice department has formed a special committee to try to find a solution. In early November the Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association in Ontario heard from Justice Casey Hill of the Ontario Superior Court, who bemoaned the lack of training and competence of interpreters and the fact that competition for interpreters between courts has become 'almost cutthroat'."

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

Monday, November 29, 2010

AALL Spectrum December 2010 Issue

The December 2010 issue of AALL Spectrum, the monthly publication of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), is available online.

Among the articles that atrtacted my attention are:
  • Making Your Wallflowers Blossom - How to implement the best social media strategy for your library by Ryan Harrington: "Considering the number of law libraries currently engaged in social media, many of us would agree that there is a benefit to be gained from our online presence. Yet when we polled the librarians here at the Yale Law School for priorities on resource allocation, we discovered that our efforts in social media received the lowest priority. This led to an interesting dilemma: Are we librarians spending too much time on social media without getting enough benefits? Or do we not receive enough benefits because we don’t spend enough time? There was no way to resolve this dilemma until we decided what we hoped to accomplish through our online presence and until we implemented a system that would enable us to measure the benefits adequately."
  • The Tao of the Circulation Desk - Towards a simple philosophy of patron assistance by Kevin Baggett: "It had occurred to me during the two years I’ve served as a circulation librarian that the circulation desk is an important piece as the public services “face” of the library, but conveying this message to my undergraduate student workers hasn’t always been the easiest of tasks. We seem to be missing a guiding philosophy of servicing patrons at the circulation desk—at least here in my library—and I want to correct this deficiency. Of course I can (and have) beat my student workers over the head about the importance of good customer service during many training sessions, but that only goes so far. Dry terms like 'public relations,' 'shareholders,' and 'ambassadorship' make undergraduates’ eyes roll into the back of their heads. Yes, the need for written rules and procedures at the circulation desk is evident, but that doesn’t give my charges a guiding principle of patron service. I want to create a simple, perhaps slightly humorous, philosophy that they can understand and apply when they are working at the desk. So, I’ve turned to the simplest philosophy I could think of — Taoism."
  • Member to Member: If you could ask for a "holiday gift" for your library, what would it be?

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:58 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Australian Law Reform Commission Uses Blogs To Consult Public

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of November 14, 2010 entitled Australian Law Reform Commission Final Report on Family Violence.

That post referred to a major study by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) that looked at family/domestic violence and child protection laws at the Commonwealth, State and Territory levels.

It appears that the Commission will launch a "follow-on" inquiry (I suppose that means a follow up inquiry in Aussiespeak) "focusing on family violence under Commonwealth law, relevant—or potentially relevant—to a range of federal legislative regimes including, for example, those regulating workplace relations, immigration, social security and child support."

I like the way the ALRC communicates with the public, via e-newsletters and blogs. This new inquiry already has a blog where the public can take part in consultations.

The New Zealand Law Commission is also quite innovative in its public outreach, having created an online public consultation site called TalkLaw.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere

The OpenNet Initative (ONI) has released a paper discussing Policing Content in the Quasi-Public Sphere.

ONI is a collaboration of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies, Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the SecDev Group (Ottawa). ONI’s mission is to identify and document Internet filtering and surveillance:

"Online conversations today exist primarily in the realm of social media and blogging platforms, most of which are owned by private companies. Such privately owned platforms now occupy a significant role in the public sphere, as places in which ideas and information are exchanged and debated by people from every corner of the world. Instead of an unregulated, decentralized Internet, we have centralized platforms serving as public spaces: a quasi-public sphere. This quasi-public sphere is subject to both public and private content controls spanning multiple jurisdictions and differing social mores."

"But as private companies increasingly take on roles in the public sphere, the rules users must follow become increasingly complex. In some cases this can be positive, for example, when a user in a repressive society utilizes a platform hosted by a company abroad that is potentially bound to more liberal, Western laws than those to which he is subject in his home country. Such platforms may also allow a user to take advantage of anonymous or pseudonymous speech, offering him a place to discuss taboo topics."

"At the same time, companies set their own standards, which often means navigating tricky terrain; companies want to keep users happy but must also operate within a viable business model, all the while working to keep their services available in as many countries as possible by avoiding government censorship. Online service providers have incentive not to host content that might provoke a DDoS attack or raise costly legal issues. Negotiating this terrain often means compromising on one or more of these areas, sometimes at the expense of users. This paper will highlight the practices of five platforms—Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and Blogger—in regard to TOS and account deactivations. It will highlight each company’s user policies, as well as examples of each company’s procedures for policing content"

Earlier Library Boy posts about ONI include:
  • Toronto Academics Get Huge Grant to Fight Internet Censorship (February 7, 2006): "The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported yesterday that the OpenNet Initiative has received a $3 million U.S. grant from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for an international human rights project whose primary goal is to combat state censorship on the Internet."
  • Helping Citizens in Repressive Societies Get Around Censorship (February 16, 2006): "The blog Slaw has an item today about Psiphon, a tool developed by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab to help people circumvent government Internet restrictions in repressive countries."
  • Internet Filtering Map (June 2, 2006): "ONI has produced an Internet Filtering Map of the world. Clicking on a country of the world and then clicking on its info icon prompts a window to pop up with data on government filtering and/or censorship practices as well as links to additional material."
  • New Global Study on Internet Filtering and Censorship (May 28, 2007): "Earlier this month, it [ONI] released the results of a global study of Internet filtering. The Initiative has also produced many country and region profiles on its website. It looked at techiques used by governments in more than 40 countries to block different types of content in areas such as dissent, free expression, human or minority rights, sex, drugs and hate-speech."
  • OpenNet Initiative 2009 Annual Report on Internet Filtrering and Censorship (February 6, 2010): "The OpenNet Initiative (ONI) has released its 2009 Year in Review report that documents instances last year of Internet filtering and censorship initiatives worldwide."

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

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Canadian Forum on Civil Justice is Moving to York University

The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, based at the University of Alberta, has announced that it is moving to York University.

The Forum undertakes research to improve the civil justice system for Canadians by:
  • collecting in a systematic way information relating to the system for administering civil justice;
  • carrying out in-depth research on matters affecting the operation of the civil justice system;
  • promoting the sharing of information about the use of best practices;
    functioning as a clearinghouse and library of information for the benefit of all persons in Canada concerned with civil justice;
  • developing liaisons with similar organizations in other countries to foster exchanges of information across national borders; and
  • taking a leadership role in providing information concerning civil justice reform initiatives and developing effective means of exchanging this information
Earlier Library Boy posts about the Forum include:
  • Canadian Civil Justice Reform Database (August 11, 2007): "The Inventory contains descriptions of reform initiatives from across the country, each described according to a standard format that includes information on the purpose, development, implementation, and evaluation of the reform ..."
  • New Canadian Network for Evidence-Based Legal Research (October 20, 2007): "The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice website mentions a new Research in Action program devoted to [D]eveloping the capacity to conduct evidence-based socio-legal research: 'Historically, issues of civil justice have been subordinated to criminal justice in terms of investment, research and media attention (...) In recognition of this need, the Law Foundation of British Columbia provided funding for a pilot project aimed at developing networks for evidence-based social research about systems of justice and related legal issues. Ultimately this project is intended to support our Research in Action program by developing a national network of socio-legal researchers. Although the Forum mandate concerns civil justice, we are aware that the need to increase socio-legal research capacity extends also to administrative and criminal justice areas. We therefore welcome researchers focusing on any of these legal areas to participate in the socio-legal network events and database'."
  • Canadian Judicial Council Report on Improving Access to Justice (June 27, 2008): "The Canadian Judicial Council has released a new report entitled Access to Justice: Report on Selected Reform Initiatives in Canada (...) This report (...) is based on records developed at its request for the new Inventory of Reforms created by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice ... The report identifies 60 reforms in the five noted areas covered, ranging from pilot projects to changes that have already become permanent."
  • Recent Developments in Civil Justice Reform (February 2, 2010): "The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, a national organization based at the University of Alberta, has highlighted some recent justice reform projects from California, Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta and England and Wales."
  • How Much Does It Cost to Access Justice in Canada? (February 14, 2010): "The Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, based at the University of Alberta, has published What does it cost to access justice in Canada? How much is "too much"? And how do we know? — Literature Review ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:52 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Does It Pay To Hire a Law Firm Librarian?

The BIALL Blog (British and Irish Association of Law Libraries) links to a number of recent blog comments that discuss the article Does It Pay to Hire a Law Firm Librarian? published last week in the US publication ABA Journal.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the same topic include:
  • Law Library Branding and Recruitment (February 15, 2006): "Why should libraries care about brands? Because whether it has been given careful thought or not, every institution has a brand. Whether the brand is strong enough to be favorably remembered by clients is another matter. This article will give you the tools to identify your brand and to understand how useful it can be in your marketing efforts."
  • New Articles on Marketing and Impact of Law Libraries (November 13, 2007): "The November 2007 issue of AALL Spectrum, a publication of the American Association of Law Libraries, contains 2 articles that are related to marketing: 'Public Relations: Selling Law Librarianship' ... 'Perspective: What is Your Impact on Society' (...)"
  • Blog Series on How to Increase Your Value in Your Workplace (March 4, 2010): "The SLA Blog has started a series called 'Alignment Steps' that contains advice on how librarians and information professionals can prove and increase their value in their workplace."
  • Law Librarians Can Prove Their Value Through Training (March 10, 2010): "(...) the January/February 2010 Law Librarians newsletter put out by legal publisher Westlaw has published an article entitled 'Law Firm Economics and the Librarian—Bring Value Through Training'. The lessons can apply beyond the context of private law firm libraries (...)"
  • Proving the Value of the Special Library (April 8, 2010): "On his Stephen's Lighthouse blog, Stephen Abram has written a post about the 'Value of Special Libraries' (...) The post describes various studies that demonstrate the impact of information specialists and special libraries that include entities such as government, courthouse, law firm, medical, scientific libraries."
  • Best Practices to Demonstrate the Value of Your Law Library (April 10, 2010): "Deborah Copeman from the library of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society and I have put together a document on best practices to demonstrate the value of the law library. It is based on contributions from members of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) who responded to a survey we sent out earlier this year ( ...)"
  • Resources to Prove the Value of Your Library Services (October 14, 2010): "The UK organization Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has put together resources that demonstrate the value and impact of special library and information services such as law, health and government libraries. The resources include: surveys, reports and case studies; advocacy resources; material on return on investment; specific material on libraries in specific sectors such as government, health or law; the SLA Alignment Project: the Special Libraries Association embarked on a major project in 2009 to refine their positioning in the marketplace and provide a framework for discussing the inherent value in the profession and the Association ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:37 pm 0 comments links to this post

An Interview With Senior Legal Reference Librarian at Law Library of Congress

In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress in Washington, has started an interview series featuring members of the library staff.

Yesterday, the fourth interview in the series appeared. It is with Pamela Barnes Craig, Senior Legal Reference Librarian:
"I usually do not describe my job to other people – I usually say 'I’m a law librarian' if I’m asked. Trying to describe my job is difficult because I have done many things in addition to reference and research work during my tenure at the Library. They include: Teacher ... Volunteer docent ... Curator – Library of Congress exhibits ... Researcher/writer ... I also do legal research presentations and mentor new employees"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:29 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Video Presentation on New US Government Information System FDsys

FDsys is the new content management and delivery system for the Government Printing Office (GPO). It is intended to replace the well-known GPO Access site as a source of U.S. official publications.

In early November, Ashley Dahlen, Outreach Librarian at the GPO in Washington, gave a presentation on the new system:
"GPO Access will be going away soon as the U.S. Government Printing Office rolls out the Federal Digital System (FDsys), an advanced digital system that will enable GPO to manage Government information from all three branches of the U.S. Government. Learn about the new system and its features, what content is available through it, and search strategies. Not only is FDsys a powerful tool for the public to access online, authoritative Federal information, but it also serves as a preservation repository for the content and a content management system for Federal agencies. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 22, 2010

UK Lord Chief Justice Warns Over Court Tweeting

We are going to be hearing a lot more stories like this one about the impact of social media on the court system.

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, warned last week that jurors using Google, Facebook and Twitter could threaten the jury system.

Lord Judge, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said new social networking technologies and the Internet made it too easy for jurors to access potentially false and prejudicial information about defendants.

It could also be very easy for campaigners to bombard the social networking sites with the intention to influence the outcome of a hearing.

Coverage from British media:
  • Top judge says internet 'could kill jury system' (BBC News UK, November 19, 2010): "The BBC's Legal Affairs Analyst, Clive Coleman, said: 'This is the strongest and most detailed judicial consideration of the threat to the criminal justice system posed by jurors using modern technology. It raises major questions of how to police and stop internet use'."
  • It's the internet's fault (again) (Computer Weekly, November 19, 2010): "Not content with being blamed for the creation of bullying, pornography, paedophilia and the X-Factor (probably), it seems that now the internet is also about to be responsible for the imminent collapse of a central tenet of British democracy - trial by jury."
  • Tweets and internet put jury system at risk, law chief warns (The Guardian, November 19, 2010): "The lord chief justice questioned whether tweets from a courtroom should be banned, as tape recordings were under the Contempt of Court Act. 'Why is Twitter any different?' he asked. 'This question has yet to be decided, and the decision may have a considerable impact on our processes.' He also called for tougher warnings for jurors over their use of the internet. 'If the jury system is to survive, the misuse of the internet must stop,' he said. 'I think we must spell this out to [jurors] yet more clearly.' He said the warnings to jurors about discussing their trial outside the jury room should be extended to the internet."
  • How Tweeting in court could get you two years in prison… (The Independent, November 19, 2010): "Lord Justice said: ' (...) I have to be blunt about this, but in my view if the jury system is to survive as the system for a fair trial in which we all believe and support, the misuse of the internet by jurors must stop,' he said. 'I think we must spell this out to them yet more clearly.' The most extreme suggestion would be an entirely new judicial system – scrapping the jury – that I could see happening if or when it becomes clear that the risk of prejudice is inevitable, but that isn’t the case now and hopefully, this will never go that far. What has to happen though, is for all of the above to be explained in detail to every jury member – and not just once at the start of their two week duties, but every time the court adjourn, every weekend, every lunchtime, every fag break. It needs to be hammered home because what to me and any other person is an almost natural way of keeping up to date with… well, everything… could potentially cause huge problems."
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Impartiality of Juries Threatened by Web? (October 22, 2009): "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 (...) "
  • Should Twitter in the Courtroom Be Illegal? (November 11, 2009): "A U.S. federal court in the state of Georgia has ruled that Rule 53 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits 'tweeting' from the courtroom ..."
  • More Jurors Get Into Trouble for Going on the Net (December 13, 2009): "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. "
  • Should Judges Join Facebook? (January 12, 2010): "In yesterday's Montreal Gazette, an article about whether Canadian judges should be on the popular social networking site Facebook: 'Amid escalating debate in the U.S. about judicial antics online, the Canadian Judicial Council has turned its attention to whether there should be some ground rules for judges who want to join Facebook and other social networking sites (...) While there are no known cases of Canadian judges on Facebook, participation in the U.S. has reached a level that prompted the Florida judicial ethics committee to issue an edict last month that judges and lawyers should not be Facebook 'friends,' to avoid appearance of conflict in the event they end up in the same courtroom (...)' "
  • U.S. Federal Courts Tell Jurors Twitter, Facebook and Texting Verboten (February 9, 2010): "Wired Magazine is reporting that the Judicial Conference of the United States, the body that develops policy for federal courts in that country, has proposed new model jury instructions that explicitly ban the use of applications like Facebook and Twitter ..."
  • Facebooking in Court: Coping With Socially Networked Jurors (October 13, 2010): "This is the new courtroom reality, one that offers courts less control over what information flows in and out of the jury box. The problem is that, over the centuries, our legal system developed rules designed to ensure that the facts presented to a jury are scrutinized and challenged by both sides. Jurors were asked to hear all the evidence, refrain from sharing opinions and ultimately deliberate in secret. But modern, socially networked jurors accustomed to accessing and sharing information are colliding with this fishbowl experience and disrupting trials in ways few know how to address ..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:37 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 1-15, 2010 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 8:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, November 19, 2010

Library of Parliament Publication on Anti-Hate Laws and Freedom of Expression

The Library of Parliament has published a new study on Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, Anti-Hate Laws and Freedom of Expression:

"Among the laws that have restricted freedom of expression are those referred to as anti-hate laws, for their purpose is to restrict the publication of messages intended to incite hatred towards members of particular groups. For example, section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA) makes it a discriminatory practice for anyone to communicate by telephone, by a telecommunication undertaking, or by a computer-based communication, including the Internet, any matter that is likely to expose anyone to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that he or she is a member of a particular identifiable group. Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code prohibit the promotion of genocide or the incitement of hatred in public. The Supreme Court of Canada has found these restrictions on the freedom of expression to be justifiable under the Charter and the reasonable limitations it permits on rights and freedoms in Canada’s free and democratic society. The Court found that the harm caused by hate propaganda is not in keeping with the aspirations to freedom of expression or the values of equality and multiculturalism contained in sections 15 and 27 of the Charter."

"In recent years, a number of people and organizations have called for the reform of Canada’s anti-hate laws. In particular, there have been calls for the repeal of section 13 of the CHRA (as well as any provincial counterparts), and for broader reforms to Canada’s human rights institutions that would change the manner in which they handle hate propaganda complaints. Others have conversely urged Parliament to maintain the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to process and to hear cases of hate propaganda, if and when any reforms are undertaken."

"This paper provides information pertaining to section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and those related provisions in section 12, the anti-hate provisions of the Criminal Code and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression contained in the Charter. Firstly, it reviews the nature of the human rights protections in the Act and in the Charter. It also reviews the jurisdiction of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT). It then provides a brief analysis of anti-hate laws in Canada and the potential effects of certain proposed amendments to the Canadian Human Rights Act."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:10 am 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, November 18, 2010

OCLC Research Launches YouTube Channel

Staff members from the laboratories of OCLC Research have produced a number of videos that have been posted to YouTube.

So far, the videos include:
  • Born Digital
  • Up in the Clouds (about cloud computing)
  • Greening ILL Practices

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:40 am 0 comments links to this post

Law Reform Commission of Ireland Report on Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has released its Report on Alternative Dispute Resolution: Mediation and Conciliation.

From the press release:

"The Report notes that mediation and conciliation are increasingly being used to try to reach mutually acceptable settlements of civil and commercial cases. These include: big commercial and small consumer claims, employment disputes, family breakdown, medical claims and property disputes. In 2006, The Dubliners reached a mediated settlement with their record label EMI over royalty payments. Earlier this year, when U2’s bass guitarist Adam Clayton obtained a temporary High Court injunction against his former personal assistant, it was stated that her employment contract had a mediation clause, which could allow her to postpone or stop ('stay') any court proceedings ... The Commission’s Report also notes that not all meditations or conciliations end with a settlement. A 2008 High Court dispute in the Commercial Court between pharmacists and the HSE was not resolved by mediation and had to go to a court decision (...) "


"Among the main recommendations in the Report are:
  • Legislation along the lines of the Commission’s draft Mediation and Conciliation Bill should be enacted that defines clearly what is meant by mediation and conciliation, including the differences between them (the Bill states that a mediator may assist the parties to reach an agreement, while a conciliator may also make a proposal to the parties to resolve the dispute).
  • The key principles of mediation and conciliation should be set out, including: they are voluntary processes; the parties control them; confidentiality of the processes is required; and their quality must be assured by clearly stated standards.
  • Mediation and conciliation can be initiated either: (a) independently of court proceedings or (b) where a court suggests them after court proceedings have begun...
  • The Government should make an 'ADR pledge,' under which Government Departments and State bodies would be required to consider and attempt mediation or conciliation in appropriate cases before initiating court proceedings ...
  • In family law disputes, parents and guardians could agree a 'parenting plan' which would set out the details of day-to-day care and contact arrangements with their children, based on the children’s best interests.
  • In a dispute arising after medical care, health care professionals (such as doctors, dentists and nurses) should be able to make an apology without this being an admission of legal liability.
  • Other emerging areas of ADR should also be dealt with in the statutory Code of Practice. This would include collaborative practice, where professional advisers actively assist and advise the parties/clients to reach, on a voluntary basis, a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their dispute (including in a family law dispute). "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:28 am 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Avoiding Trial by Avalanche: Australian Law Reform Commission Consultation Paper on Discovery

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released a Consultation Paper for the Inquiry into Discovery of Documents in Federal Courts.

From the press release:

"The 2009 Access to Justice Taskforce report—established by the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, which recommended that the ALRC conduct this Inquiry—noted that the high and disproportionate cost of discovery can impose a barrier to justice in court based dispute resolution. While the truth-seeking purposes of discovery may promote fairness in litigation, the commercial realities of contemporary discovery practice and procedure may threaten the very same fairness and justice sought to be achieved."

"ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said 'A particular feature of contemporary litigation is the massive exponential growth and storage of documents in the electronic age. Discovery can be an important process in litigation to avoid trial by ambush, but the vast amount of electronically-stored information which litigants might be required to disclose can lead to trial by avalanche. The impact of information and communication technologies can also exacerbate the inherent tension between the party requesting discovery—seeking to ascertain facts material to the case; and the party giving discovery—bearing the burden of retrieving, reviewing and disclosing documents in response to discovery requests. The task in this Inquiry is to develop proposals and ultimately, recommendations for reform that balances these tensions fairly and practically."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:16 am 0 comments links to this post

New Zealand Law Reform Commission Introductory Issues Paper on Law of Trusts

The Law Reform Commission of New Zealand has has published its first issues paper in its review of the law of trusts.

The Commission has been asked to review New Zealand's Trustee Act 1956 and trust law generally.

The first issues paper is primarily a background paper.

It traces the development of the trust from its origins in England through to the present day uses of the trust both in New Zealand and internationally.

It also examines the key features of the trust with a view to finding a working definition that might possibly serve as a statutory definition for a new Trustee Act or possibly a Trusts Act and takes a look at comparable overseas legislation.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Canadian Centre for Court Technologies Survey

The Canadian Centre for Court Technologies (CCCT) is trying to put together an online clearinghouse for information on technology and the courts.

To gather information from the Canadian legal community, the CCCT is conducting a survey. The deadline is Dec. 3, 2010.

[Source: Vancouver Law Librarian Blog]

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Monday, November 15, 2010

openDemocracy Drug Policy Forum

I have mentioned this site before.

The British website openDemocracy publishes a regular feature called the Drug Policy Forum that takes a critical look at stories about the "war on drugs" and criminal justice issues.

This week's report includes:
  • European blueprint signals way for America to end the war on drugs: "As America's drug war spirals out of control, Europe's reformist organisations offer a view that policymakers must heed..."
  • High Society: Wellcome Collection Exhibition: "With the illicit drug trade estimated by the UN at $320 billion (£200bn) a year and new drugs constantly appearing on the streets and the internet, it can seem as if we are in the grip of an unprecedented level of addiction. Yet the use of psychoactive drugs is nothing new, and indeed our most familiar ones - alcohol, coffee and tobacco - have all been illegal in the past (...) 'High Society' will explore the paths by which these drugs were first discovered - from apothecaries' workshops to state-of-the-art laboratories - and how they came to be simultaneously fetishised and demonised in today’s culture."
  • Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative Now Winning!: "After trailing on election day and all the way through most of the late vote counting, Arizona's medical marijuana initiative, Proposition 203, has now pulled ahead. As of Friday evening, the measure was ahead by 4,600 votes and was winning, 50.13% to 49.87%. "
  • Drug Addicts Spurn Shooting Up: "England is leading the way on reducing the harm caused by injecting drug use, according to a report from the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse (NTA). Continued investment by successive governments in drug treatment over the past 30 years means England now has one of the lowest rates of HIV amongst injecting drug users in Western Europe and comparable developing countries. New NTA figures show the number of people coming into treatment who use syringes and needles to inject illegal drugs (mainly heroin) has dropped to its lowest level since 2005. "
  • We face an Addiction Problem of a Titanic Scale: "Scotland ranks sixth in the world for illicit drug use: only Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritius, Costa Rica and Russia have worse problems. This is new. As recently as the 1970s, official reviews concluded there was no major drugs problem in Scotland. The situation with alcohol is similar. The rise in deaths from alcohol took off during the 1990s since when male death rates from alcohol have quadrupled and female rates have more than doubled. What can be done in the face of such profound trends? Scotland’s first independent inquiry into drugs and alcohol, entitled Melting the Iceberg of Scotland’s Drug and Alcohol Problem, argues that the whole Scottish population must be involved if a solution is to be found."
  • The Prague Declaration - 7 Principles for Urban Drug Policies: "In the early 1990s the representatives of four European cities, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Zürich and Hamburg endorsed a document later came to be known as the Frankfurt Resolution. They concluded that 'the present system of criminally prohibiting the use of certain drugs has failed,' and 'drug related problems are not only caused by the effects of the drugs themselves, but are primarily the result of the illegality of drug consumption.' The Resolution promoted a new harm reduction approach to drug problems: it did not aim to eliminate drug use as such but to reduce the negative consequences of drug use and drug policies. Cities signing the document later set up a network called the European Cities on Drug Policy (...) Pavel Bem, the mayor of Prague and a former drug treatment professional himself, recognized this trend and the need to create a new platform to promote evidence-based, pragmatic drug policies among cities. He and his advisers prepared a new statement for the conference Urban Drug Policies in the Globalised World (September 30th – October 2nd, 2010) – the Prague Declaration "

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Australian Law Reform Commission Final Report on Family Violence

The Australian Law Reform Commission, in conjunction with the New South Wales Law Reform Commission, has published its report Family Violence - A National Legal Response.

On 17 July 2009, the Attorney-General of Australia had asked the two commissions to conduct a joint inquiry into particular questions in relation to family violence that had arisen out of the 2009 report of the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

They looked at:

1) the interaction in practice of State and Territory family/domestic violence and child protection laws with the Family Law Act and relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory criminal laws; and

2) the impact of inconsistent interpretation or application of laws in cases of sexual assault occurring in a family/domestic violence context, including rules of evidence, on victims of such violence.

The report makes 187 recommendations for reform.

The main thrust is the need to end legislative and policy fragmentation of the issue because of overlapping Commonwealth, state and territorial jurisdiction. The report calls for the adoption of a common interpretative framework in relation to family violence across state and territory family violence legislation, the Family Law Act and the criminal law. This involves: establishing a shared understanding of what constitutes family violence across these legislative schemes; and of the nature, features and dynamics of family violence.

From the Executive Summary:
"The Commissions also recommend ... that this definition be complemented in family violence legislation by a provision that explains the nature, features and dynamics of family violence, including: while anyone may be a victim of family violence, or may use family violence, it is predominantly committed by men; it can occur in all sectors of society; it can involve exploitation of power imbalances; its incidence is underreported; and it has a detrimental impact on children. In addition, family violence legislation should refer to the particular impact of family violence on: Indigenous persons; those from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background; those from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities; older persons; and people with disabilities. The Commissions recommend the adoption of a similar provision in the Family Law Act (...)"

"The net effect of the recommendations, taken as an overall reform package, will be that:

  • the legal framework is as seamless as possible from the point of view of those who engage with it;
  • victims have better access to legal and other responses to family violence;
  • legal responses to family violence are fair and just, holding those who use family violence accountable for their actions and providing protection to victims, but also ensuring safeguards to accused persons in the criminal justice context; and
  • interventions and support in circumstances of family violence are effective."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Harvard Lecture on Path to Legal Information

Last week, John Palfrey, Henry N. Ess Professor of Law and Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, gave a talk at Harvard Law School on The Path of Legal Information.
From the abstract:

"We should learn from advances in cloud computing, the digital naming systems, and youth media practices, as well as classical modes of librarianship, as we envision – and, together, build – a new system for recording, indexing, writing about, and teaching what we mean by the law. A new legal information environment, drawing comprehensively from contemporary technology, can improve access to justice by the traditionally disadvantaged, including persons with disabilities; enhance democracy; promote innovation and creativity in scholarship and teaching; and promote economic development. This new legal information architecture must be grounded in a reconceptualization of the public sector’s role and draw in private parties, such as Google, Amazon, Westlaw, and LexisNexis, as key intermediaries to legal information."

"This new information environment will have unintended – and sometimes negative – consequences, too. This trajectory toward openness is likely to change the way that both professionals and the public view the law and the process of lawmaking. Hierarchies between those with specialized knowledge and power and those without will continue its erosion. Lawyers will have to rely upon an increasingly broad range of skills, rather than serving as gatekeepers to information, to command high wages, just as new gatekeepers emerge to play increasingly important roles in the legal process. The widespread availability of well-indexed digital copies of legal work-products will also affect the ways in which lawmakers of all types think and speak in ways that are hard to anticipate. One indirect effect of these changes, for instance, may be a greater receptivity on the part of lawmakers to calls for substantive information privacy rules for individuals in a digital age."

"An effective new system will not emerge on its own; the digital environment, like the physical, is a built environment. As lawyers, teachers, researchers, and librarians, we share an interest in the way in which legal information is created, stored, accessed, manipulated, and preserved over the long term. We will have to work together to overcome several stumbling blocks, such as state-level assertions of copyright. As collaborators, we could design and develop it together over the next decade or so. The net result — if we get it right — will be improvements in the way we teach and learn about the law and how the system of justice functions."

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Library of Parliament Background Papers on Proposed Canada-European Union Free Trade

The Library of Parliament recently released a series of background papers on the Canada–European Union trade negotiations that started in 2009.

The papers are:
[Source: Slaw.ca]

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Information Commissioner Calls for Alternative to CAIRS Access Database

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada has concluded an investigation into the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS).

CAIRS was used by researchers, reporters and lawyers to track freedom of information requests made to Canadian federal government departments under the Access to Information Act.

The requirement for departments to update CAIRS was discontinued by the Conservative government, essentially making it obsolete.

According to the Information Commissioner:

"Although CAIRS was not originally designed for public use, the information contained in the database generates substantial and continued public interest. This has been confirmed by the creation of the non-governmental Online Democracy and CAIRS.info websites. We believe that advances in technology allow federal institutions to go much further in providing access to their information."

"Abolishing the requirement to update the information contained in CAIRS effectively eliminated a centralized source of information on access requests received by federal institutions. However, since the information is still available from institutions, the Office was unable to conclude that the policy change represented a denial of access under the Act (...)"

"In response to recommendations, the President of the Treasury Board indicated that TBS [Treasury Board Secretariat] would consult federal institutions and assess the associated resource implications. Consultations have commenced."

"Based on its discussions with TBS, the Office has noted a willingness to introduce a practice leading to the publication of access requests. TBS has taken a leadership role among federal institutions in posting the list of summaries of requests completed by TBS every month. The Office is confident that TBS will follow up on the recommendations on a government-wide basis"
Related Library Boy posts include:
  • Access to Information Database Updated to June 2005 (August 7, 2005): "Prof. Alasdair Roberts from Syracuse University has updated his Canadian access to information request database (...) According to Roberts, a former Queen's University scholar who has maintained the database since early 2002, this will be the last update. The page will not be maintained after August 31."
  • New Access to Information Database (April 15, 2006): "David McKie, an award-winning member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's investigative reporting unit, has set up an access to information / freedom of information website that 'allows you to search a database of requests for information filed with departments and agencies of the Canadian government under Canada's Access to Information Act' (...) This website takes over from where Syracuse University professor Alasdair Roberts left off in August 2005."
  • Media Reports Government Wants to Can Access to Information Database (May 3, 2008): "The Toronto Star is reporting that the federal government is putting an end to the Coordination of Access to Information Requests System (CAIRS), an internal database of every request filed to all federal departments and agencies under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) ... CAIRS was seen by lawyers, reporters, and government watchdog groups as a very useful resource. They could mine the information in the database, approach government departments and request copies of already released documents."
  • Federal Access to Information Database Revived by Ottawa Law Prof (May 21, 2009): "University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist is trying to revive the CAIRS database that allowed researchers to track freedom of information requests made to Canadian federal government departments under the Access to Information Act (...) Prof. Geist is launching CAIRS.Info, a resource that will provide the same information that was contained in the original database and will be updated: 'The files include the wording of the original access to information request, date, department, file number and general information about whether the requester was with the media, business, academic or other. Once users have identified an access request that is of interest, they can ask the relevant government department for a copy of all disclosed records'."
[Source: Michael Geist's Blog]

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Canadian Law Blogs Search Engine

Simon Fodden at Slaw.ca has designed a Google Custom Search Engine for Canadian law blogs.

It queries 249 Canadian law blogs, drawn from the list available at Steve Matthews’ Canadian Law Blogs List.

Fodden also provides the code for embedding the search box in other websites or blogs.

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

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Law Society of Upper Canada Launches InfoLocate

The Law Society of Upper Canada's Great Library has launched InfoLocate.

It is a single search point for all the print, electronic and continuing legal education materials at the Great Library itself and in all local County and District Law Association Library collections in Ontario.

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Interview With Collections Chief at Law Library of Congress

This is a follow up to the Library Boy post of October 30, 2010 entitled Interview with Law Librarian of Congress.

In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress in Washington, has started an interview series featuring members of the library staff.

Last week, the second interview in the series appeared. It is with Mark Strattner, Chief of the Library's Collection Services Division:
"The move really led me to the perfect job, that of helping to shape the collections of the largest law library in the world for future generations. As Roberta Shaffer stated in her interview, 'The Library of Congress is a wonder of the world.' [Library Boy comment: hers was the first interview in the series] I think it is very difficult for an outsider to understand the true treasure the Library is; I often still catch my breath over something that the Library has in the collection. I must admit that I did not fully understand the uniqueness of the Library when I accepted my first job here."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

Criticism of British Columbia's Proposed Family Law Reform

This is a follow up to the Library Boy post of September 8, 2010 entitled British Columbia Proposes Massive Family Law Overhaul.

As part of its ambitious family law reform package, the province of British Columbia is proposing a new idea of "guardianship" to replace the concepts of custody and access when it comes to children from a failed relationship.

According to the article B.C.’s proposed guardianship concept raises red flags in this week's issue of The Lawyer's Weekly, that idea is highly problematic.

Author Susan Boyd, law professor at the University of British Columbia, writes:
"Despite its nuanced approach to children’s best interests, it [the government White Paper] proposes that, on separation, parents would share guardianship unless an order or agreement says otherwise. The concepts of 'custody' and 'access' would be absorbed into 'guardianship.' If separating parents have lived together with the child, they would both be guardians and able to exercise an extensive list of parental responsibilities, including day-to-day care and control."

"The white paper states that it does not intend to introduce a presumption in favour of a 50-50 split of parental responsibilities or time. However, this is what would result from the current proposal. Studies raise concerns about any unreflective embrace of either joint legal or physical custody as a panacea in the difficult field of post-separation parenting. Although parents can vary the shared guardianship, in circumstances of conflict, it is less than likely that parents will pay close attention to the best interests factors itemized above (...)"

"The current system does not prevent parents from agreeing to a more shared scenario — many do — nor does it prevent court orders for joint custody and guardianship, which are made quite often. The proposed law has a radically different default — of joint guardianship — regardless of the past history of parenting or the quality of the relationship between the parents. This default would generate serious problems for a parent caregiver who is dealing with a manipulative or abusive spouse, or one who has not demonstrated commitment to a child in the past."

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

Sunday, November 07, 2010

2009-2010 Annual Report of Correctional Investigator: Prisons Overcrowded, Increasingly Violent

The Office of the Correctional Investigator tabled its 2009-2010 annual report in the Canadian Parliament on Friday.

The Correctional Investigator is mandated by Part III of the federal Corrections and Conditional Release Act as an Ombudsman for federal offenders. The primary function of the Office is to investigate and bring resolution to individual offender complaints. The current Investigator is Mr. Howard Sapers.

In the report, Sapers draws attention to a variety of problems in the federal correctional system:
  • overcrowded prisons with inadequate and deteriorating physical infrastructures
  • offender populations that include a large number of mentally ill inmates
  • a more complex inmate profile that includes histories of gang membership, substance abuse and chronic illness
In particular, Sapers writes that the overcrowding problem is undermining efforts to rehabilitate prisoners and help them reintegrate into society after their release.

He also finds that there is an increasing trend toward a more punitive approach to incarceration:
  • there is less interaction between prisoners and front-line staff and an increased use of physical restraints and segregation
  • there is a rise in reported use of force incidents, including the use of inflammatory and chemical agents, deployment of Emergency Response Teams, and the display and pointing of firearms
  • the growing number of offenders in federal prisons is quickly surpassing capacity. Overcrowding pressures have led to a 50% increase in double-bunking over the past five years where two inmates are living in a cell designed for one. This leads to greater tension, more fights and risks to both prisoners and staff
  • deteriorating and inadequate physical infrastructures
More commentary:
  • Prisons plagued by overcrowding, poor conditions, ombudsman reports (Globe and Mail, November 5, 2010): "The ombudsman for federal prisoners says the effects of harsher sentencing laws brought in by the Conservative government are being felt in overcrowded prisons, where interaction between staff and inmates is becoming increasingly rare and rehabilitation is undermined (...) But a spokesman for Vic Toews, the Public Safety Minister, said the government has taken steps to help improve the lot of prisoners. 'For instance, our government has invested more than $50-million in funding to the Correctional Service of Canada for mental health over the past five years,' said Chris McClusky. 'CSC has both increased access to services for inmates and training for staff so that they can recognize mental health issues. These are all resources that did not exist before.' In addition, he said, the government has provided approximately $2-billion over five years to increase capacity within existing prisons. "
  • Prison ombud urges mental health focus (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, November 5, 2010): "Canada's corrections system needs to step up its recruitment of mental health professionals, says a new report released Friday by Canada's prison ombudsman. Corrections Canada is facing a 20 per cent vacancy rate in psychology-related jobs, the report said, although one in four new federal inmates has some form of mental illness."
  • Prison watchdog warns of overcrowding (Toronto Star, November 5, 2010): "The federal prison ombudsman says that overcrowded penitentiaries badly in need of repair are creating a tense and frustrating atmosphere that increases the risk of violence and hamper the rehabilitation of inmates (...) Sapers noted the prison population has been climbing since changes to criminal law made a higher number of crimes subject to mandatory minimum sentences (...) Sapers told reporters that refurbishing existing infrastructure to accommodate the growing number of inmates — as the Conservative government has committed to doing — is not necessarily the answer. 'There is no jurisdiction that has ever successfully built its way into a crime-free society,' Sapers said, adding that if there was an academically sound relation between increased prison terms and lower crime rates then the United States would have much less crime than it does."
  • Canadian prisons lacking rehabilitation programs: watchdog (National Post, November 5, 2010): "A new report from Canada’s prison watchdog paints a bleak picture of life inside federal penitentiaries, which he says are overcrowded, increasingly violent and have fewer rehabilitation programs on offer, with less than one in four offenders participating on any given day."

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WILU 2011 Information Literacy Conference in Regina

The Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST), the University of Regina, and the University of Saskatchewan are hosting WILU 2011, June 1-3, 2011 in Regina, Saskatchewan.

WILU stands for Workshop for Instruction in Library Use and is an annual conference devoted to research and innovations in the area of information literacy and library instruction.

This will mark the 40th year that WILU exists.

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Friday, November 05, 2010

November 2010 Issue of Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World

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 November 2010 issue has just been published on the LAC website.

It includes:
  • news items from Canada and around the world
  • announcements of upcoming events (meetings, workshops, seminars)
  • project and product news in areas such as digitization, archives, open source, e-government, access to information and Web 2.0 initiatives
  • selected papers and readings (white papers, presentations, reports)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:51 pm 0 comments links to this post

Most Recent Issue of Law Library Journal

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has published the most recent issue of its publication Law Library Journal.

Among the articles that attracted my attention:
  • The European Human Rights System : "This article presents the historical, organizational, and bibliographic information needed to research the Council of Europe’s regulation of human rights. It begins with an explanation of the reasons for the organization’s founding and then describes its statute, its structure, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the history of the changes in the treaty’s procedures, and its enforcement mechanisms. The final section provides similar treatment for another, less well known, of the Council’s human rights treaties, the European Social Charter."
  • Breaking Down Link Rot: The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archives Examination of URL Stability: "Ms. Rhodes explores URL stability, measured by the prevalence of link rot over a three-year period, among the original URLs for law- and policy-related materials published to the web and archived though the Chesapeake Project, a collaborative digital preservation initiative under way in the law library community. The results demonstrate a significant increase in link rot over time in materials originally published to seemingly stable organization, government, and state web sites."
  • The Quality of Academic Law Library Online Catalogs and Its Effect on Information Retrieval: "Quality in online catalogs is generally presumed to be high. Ms. Briscoe examined a number of online catalog entries and documented the accuracy of selected bibliographic records. After finding a high level of errors, she surveyed reference librarians to determine if they believed that these errors would affect their ability to answer reference questions."

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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Using Twitter For Foreign and International Law Research

Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Foreign and International Law Librarian and Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School D’Angelo Law Library, has published a post on slaw.ca about Twitter for Foreign, Comparative, and International Law (FCIL) Work.

In the post, she lists librarians, libraries, associations and publishers that use Twitter to disseminate information about FCIL:
"You can use Twitter to find out about new books, and new law library acquisitions. You can also track news from foreign sources and in foreign languages. Twitter is not only a great source for law, library, and technology news, it also gives you a way to network with colleagues, share ideas, and crowd source"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:57 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 October 16th to 31st, 2010 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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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Law Commission of England Consultation on Fitness to Stand Trial

The Law Commission of England has released a consultation paper with proposals for comprehensive reform of the law on unfitness to stand trial in England and Wales.

From the background on the project:

"Given the vulnerability of the mentally ill and the increasing frequency with which they are coming into contact with the criminal justice system, modern criminal law should be informed by modern science, and in particular by modern psychiatric thinking."

"The problems with the existing law on unfitness to plead are numerous. The current test for determining fitness to plead dates from 1836 when the science of psychiatry was in its infancy. The law developed in a piecemeal way and independently of developments under the European Convention on Human Rights on 'effective participation' as part of the right to a fair trial."

"The legal test for fitness to plead needs to be reconsidered and should be contrasted with the much wider test contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005."

"Other important questions to be answered include: what is the exact scope of a trial of the facts following a finding of unfitness to plead? What issues can be raised by the defendant, in particular 'defences' of accident, mistake and self-defence?"

"The project draws on relevant empirical evidence and comparative jurisdictions in an attempt to identify better and more up to date legal tests and rules for determining fitness to plead and the subsequent procedure for the examination of the facts."

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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Canadian Government Re-Introduces Internet Surveillance Bills

The federal government has re-introduced two bills in the House of Commons that would allow police and intelligence officials to intercept online communications and get personal information from Internet service providers.

The government explains that the legislation targets child sexual predators, distributors of pornography and identity thieves. The bills also go after people who use the Internet to plan terrorist acts.

The Investigative Powers for the 21st Century Act would help law enforcement by:
  • enabling police to identify all the network nodes and jurisdictions involved in the transmission of data and trace the communications back to a suspect. Judicial authorizations would be required to obtain transmission data, which provides information on the routing but does not include the content of a private communication;
  • requiring a telecommunications service provider to temporarily keep data so that it is not lost or deleted in the time it takes law enforcement agencies to return with a search warrant or production order to obtain it;
  • making it illegal to possess a computer virus for the purposes of committing an offence of mischief; and
  • enhancing international cooperation to help in investigating and prosecuting crime that goes beyond Canada’s borders
Here is the government backgrounder on the proposed bill.

The second bill is called the Investigating and Preventing Criminal Electronic Communications Act and it would require ISPs to include interception capability in their networks, making it easier for law enforcement and national security agencies to intercept suspicious information. The proposed Act also calls for service providers to supply basic subscriber information upon request to designated law enforcement, Competition Bureau and national security officials.

It is the re-introduction of Bill C-47 from Parliament's last session. The LEGISinfo website has a legislative summary of that bill.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:

  • List of Electronic Surveillance Laws in the U.S. (December 22, 2005): "For Canadian material, one can have a look at the lawful access section of the CIPPIC website. CIPPIC is the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic based at the University of Ottawa."
  • Canadian Bar Association Worried About ISP Surveillance (July 8, 2006): "The Canadian Bar Association appears concerned that Internet service providers have been putting into place the technical capacity to monitor their customers' communications without proper authorization."
  • Update on Canadian Internet Surveillance Proposals (October 30, 2006): "University of Ottawa law prof and Toronto Star columnist Michael Geist has published a piece about the state of the federal government's lawful access initiative. The idea behind lawful access is to provide Canada law enforcement with new, more sophisticated electronic surveillance tools to prevent and fight organized crime, money laundering and terrorist activities. Geist analyzes various internal government documents recently obtained under the Access to Information Act that show how authorities are attempting to deal with the initial negative public reaction to the proposals to expand police powers."
  • Canadian Government Consultation on Lawful Access (September 14, 2007): "The purpose of this consultation is to provide a range of stakeholders - including police and industry representatives and groups interested in privacy and victims of crime issues - with an opportunity to identify their current views on possible approaches to updating Canada’s lawful access provisions as they relate to law enforcement and national security officials’ need to gain access to CNA [customer name and address] information in the course of their duties. The possible scope of CNA information to be obtained is later identified, but it should be noted from the outset that it would not, in any formulation, include the content of communications or the Web sites an individual visited while online."
  • CIPPIC Paper on Government's Lawful Access Initiative (October 16, 2007): "This is a follow-up to the September 14, 2007 Library Boy post entitled Canadian Government Consultation on Lawful Access ... Yesterday, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) at the University of Ottawa made its submission available. In its conclusions, CIPPIC remains highly sceptical of government arguments about the need for greater access to CNA information: 'Information identifying telecommunications subscribers can be highly sensitive given the electronic trail of publicly available and otherwise accessible data that individuals now leave about themselves on the internet and other digital devices as they go about their daily lives. For this reason, we submit that CNA information raises a 'reasonable expectation of privacy' on which a Charter challenge to laws permitting warrantless access could be based' ..."
  • Telecoms Fight Canadian Government Over E-Surveillance Costs (April 4, 2008): "The University of Ottawa's Michael Geist draws attention to documents obtained by Canwest News Service reporters that reveal a behind-the-scenes tug-of-war between industry and the federal government over who should bear the costs of electronic surveillance."

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

Supreme Court of Canada Library Has Updated Its Catalogue

The Supreme Court of Canada has updated its online catalogue.

The catalogue has some new functionalities such as the ability to bookmark results and a button to create a permalink to any record or results page for e-mailing or inclusion in a web page.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:11 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, November 01, 2010

Judges Struggling to Deal With Increased Number of Self-Represented Litigants

This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly includes the article Judges grapple with unrepresented litigants that quotes Judge François Rolland, chief justice of Quebec’s Superior Court, on the growing and disturbing trend towards self-represented litigants:
"In divorce cases before Quebec Superior Court, 36 per cent of Quebecers are unrepresented litigants, a figure that rises to 42.1 per cent in family matters dealing with child custody and separation. Almost 42 per cent of parties appealing a sentence in criminal matters before Quebec Superior Court are unrepresented litigants while 38.8 per cent of individuals facing a motion that could authorize their psychiatric treatment do not have legal representation (...)"

"Even the Supreme Court of Canada cannot dodge the trend. Approximately 30 per cent of requests to file an application for leave to appeal are lodged by unrepresented litigants, noted Justice Rolland."

" 'Is it by choice or because they cannot afford it — our statistics don’t go so far,' said Justice Rolland at a conference on plain language and the law held in downtown Montreal. 'I would dare to assert that in the vast majority of cases people simply don’t have the means to be represented' (...)"

"But government cutbacks in legal aid coupled with escalating legal fees has made legal representation out of reach for low and middle-class Canadians, giving rise to Rowbotham applications, otherwise known as petitions for the appointment of 'state-funded counsel' in criminal law matters, and ill-prepared unrepresented litigants in civil matters ..."
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Canadian Courthouse Library Survey (May 6, 2007): "Leaders of the Courthouse and Law Society Libraries SIG [of the Canadian Association of law Libraries] unveiled the results of a survey regarding public access (...) 27.6% of libraries have developed resources to assist members of the public in finding legal information or legal advice consisting of prepared printed brochures and research guides. These materials included electronic sources, pathfinders, online forms and Internet sites. 34.5% of the libraries indicated they were involved in access to justice projects with other organizations: training sessions for public librarians and university students, moot court tournaments for high schools or newspaper article series on public legal education ..."
  • CALL 2007 Conference - Public Access to Legal Information (May 7, 2007): "At the 2007 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries being held in Ottawa until Wednesday, there was a session today on 'The Ultimate End User: the Public's Access to Law Libraries and Legal Information'. There were 3 presentations dealing with how law libraries and public libraries can respond to the growing number of self-represented litigants, as well with the generalized growth in the appetite of the public for legal information. "
  • Role of Public Law Libraries (June 24, 2008): "The most recent issue of the AALL Spectrum features an article about what are called public law libraries which are law libraries that serve the general population, including self-represented litigants."
  • British Columbia Launches Clicklaw Public Legal Info Portal (April 29, 2009): "The Public Legal Education and Information Network in the province of British Columbia has launched Clicklaw to provide the general public with legal information and education resources. "
  • CALL 2009 Conference - Research Projects by Members (May 27, 2009): "At this year's session, 2 CALL members presented the results of their research projects. The first was from Kirsten Wurmann of the Legal Resource Centre in Edmonton who presented the results of her study on the role and impact of librarians in the history and development of public legal education practice in Canada. Her paper is entitled The Role and Impact of Librarians in the History and Development of Public Legal Education (PLE) in Canada. "
  • Materials from Austin, Texas Conference on Self-Represented Litigants (April 7, 2010): "The Self-Represented Litigation Network is an open and growing group of organizations and working groups dedicated to fulfilling the promise of a justice system that works for all, including those who cannot afford lawyers and who go to court on their own. The Network brings together a range of organizations including courts, and access to justice organizations in support of innovations in services for the self‐represented (...) Public libraries are critical access points to government institutions. As times get tougher, it becomes more and more important that people have libraries where they can find out how to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of our society. It also becomes more and more important that libraries can show how important and effective they are at meeting this need."

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