Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cowper Report Calls for Major Overhaul of British Columbia Criminal Justice System

Vancouver lawyer Geoffrey Cowper today released his final 175-page report into reforms to improve the British Columbia criminal justice system:
"In his report, A Criminal Justice System for the 21st Century, Geoffrey Cowper, QC, chair of the Justice Reform Initiative, offers recommendations to government and the judiciary on ways to achieve overall timeliness, improve court and judicial administration and improve the experiences of victims and the community."

"Included in the review and also released today is a report from the Legal Services Society examining legal aid funding and a review of B.C.'s charge assessment process submitted by Gary McCuaig, QC."
The government commissioned the review earlier this year in response to frustration within the legal system because of lengthy delays.

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Webinar - Mother Said There’d Be Days Like These: Dealing Professionally & Elegantly With the Unforeseen at Work

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) is hosting a webinar on September 17, 2012 called Mother Said There’d Be Days Like These: Dealing Professionally & Elegantly With the Unforeseen at Work:
"In any workplace, routine will be interrupted by events arising from internal or external developments.  The best laid plans are suddenly out the window – but must be caught up once a crisis is dealt with.  Clients’ and colleagues’ needs must be attended to – within reason.  Split second decision making, poise, and calm are called for.  Ulla de Stricker offers straightforward tips and guidelines for negotiating these challenges with professional and personal responsibility balanced by respect for ourselves.  Attendees will hear about
  • Strategies for creating “room for the unforeseen”
  • What constitutes a true emergency (vs poor planning)
  • Ways to focus on solutions (vs blame)
  • Strategies for capturing the learning from a challenging situation (for others and for ourselves)"
The webinar is at 2PM Eastern. It is possible to register online (pricing information included).

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Call for Program Submissions for 2013 Canadian Law Libraries Conference

The Programming Committee for the 2013 conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) has set a deadline of Oct. 15, 2012 for members to submit session proposals for next year's annual meeting.

There is a submission form on the CALL website.

The 2013 CALL conference will take place in Montreal in May.

The  Program Committee has selected three themes or tracks.  Each Plenary session will focus on one of the following themes and the programming will be aligned with the main conference theme the Librarian: a multi-faceted professional.

The three themes are:
  • Looking to the future
  • How to Develop Professionally
  • Alignment
 Program sponsors must contact potential speakers about their willingness and availability to speak prior to proposing the session.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction Goes to Thriller Writer Michael Connelly

The 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction goes to thriller writer Michael Connelly for his book, The Fifth Witness.

The prize, which is sponsored by ABA Journal and the University of Alabama School of Law, is intended to recognize a work of fiction that “best exemplifies the role of lawyers in society, and their power to effect change.” 

The award is named after author Harper Lee, whose novel To Kill A Mockingbird, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Alberta Law Reform Institute Report for Discussion on Arbitration

The Alberta Law Reform Institute has released a Report for Discussion 24: Arbitration Act: Stay and Appeal Issues
"Many legal disputes are arbitrated outside the court system using the Alberta Arbitration Act. These arbitrated cases can include commercial, consumer, family and community issues. The Alberta Law Reform Institute has just released a Report for Discussion seeking public input on some procedural issues which affect the ideal functioning of the arbitration system. The Report explores difficulties arising out of simultaneous court proceedings which must be suspended or stayed in whole or in part so the arbitration can proceed, appeals to the Court of Queen’s Bench and the role of arbitration appeals generally."
For many of these issues, the report outlines the practice in other Canadian jurisdictions as a matter of comparison.

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Alberta Law Reform Institute Final Report on Criminal Appeal Procedures

The Alberta Law Reform Institute has released its final report on Criminal Appeal Procedures:
"The challenge accepted by the Alberta Law Reform Institute, and taken up by its working group of judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers and academics, was to bring clarity and logic to this complex area. Final Report 101 sets out a simple comprehensive procedure, from start to finish, including a step-by-step description of the process. It begins with the filing of a notice of appeal; the submission by both appellant and respondent of materials and evidence to support the appeal; the presentation of oral argument at the hearing; and concludes with the issue of an order by the court."
"The Report also identifies necessary reforms to implement the process and describes what matters can be dealt with by court officers, duty judges and hearing panels."

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alberta Law Reform Institute Releases Final Report on Criminal Trial Proceedings

The Alberta Law Reform Institute has released its Final Report 100: Criminal Trial Proceedings.

The Institute examined three areas: 
  • Charter Issues – The content of a notice of Charter application is not clearly specified. As a result, notices often do not contain enough information for the court or Crown to prepare for the hearing or to assess the impact of the application on the trial schedule.
  • Non-Disclosure Orders – In order to prevent release of information which is the subject of a non-disclosure order application, it is necessary to clearly state that such information may not be published prior to the court’s decision on the application. 
  • General Challenges for Cause in Jury Selection – In order to avoid the risk that a general challenge for cause will delay a criminal jury trial, the party seeking to challenge every prospective member of the jury for cause must apply for court permission to do so at least two months before the date of jury selection. 

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tasmania Law Reform Institute Proposes Banning Circumcision

The Tasmania Law Reform Institute released a report this week on Non-Therapeutic Male Circumcision.

Among its recommendations are:
  • A general prohibition on the circumcision of incapable minors with an exception for well-established religious or ethnicity-motivated circumcisions
  • Enactment of legislation clarifying the legality of circumcisions performed at the request of adult or capable minor and governing situations where parents disagree about the desirability of performing a circumcision
  • Greater dissemination of accurate information on the known and potential effects and significance of circumcision
  • The imposition of criminal sanctions for a circumciser who fails to meet minimum standards of care: and  
  • Setting of a uniform limitations period in which individuals can bring an action against their circumciser and extending the limitations period for individuals harmed by circumcisions as a minor. 
The Commission looked at the Tasmanian situation as well as the law in other jurisdictions such as South Africa, Sweden and the United States.
As the University of Pittsburgh's legal news site Jurist reports, the Tasmanian report arrives at a moment when there are a heated legal controversies in places like Germany and California surrounding the circumcision of minors.

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Library of Congress Report on Online Privacy Laws

The Library of Congress has published 2 reports comparing the data protection laws of the European Union and of selected foreign countries (including Canada):
"They describe the constitutional foundations of data privacy and the statutory requirements that must be met in order for data to be collected, used, and transferred to third parties. They also explain the concepts of informed consent, transparency, and data minimization, and describe the rights and remedies of data subjects, particularly the rights of access, rectification, and erasure."

"In addition, the reports examine whether the existing laws on data privacy are adequate to deal with online privacy in an era of rapid technological development and globalization, and with an increased scale of data sharing and collecting."
The reports were prepared for the recent annual conference of the American Association of Law Libraries that took place in Boston, July 21-24, 2012.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

LawNow Magazine Completely Free as of September 2012

LawNow, a magazine published by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, will become completely free as of September 2012.

LawNow appears 6 times a year and provides credible legal information and interpretation to help Canadian citizens understand law and better protect their interests.

Issues feature regular columns written by lawyers and public legal education specialists on aboriginal law, family law, criminal law, human rights, charities and not-for-profit law and other topics.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell Leads Access to Justice Initiative

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly features an article on an access to justice initiative being led by Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell:
"Since 2010, the soft-spoken Supreme Court of Canada judge from Nova Scotia has spent many of his waking 'off' hours spearheading a low-profile, but highly ambitious, national project to slay (or at least tame) the beast besetting justice in Canada and other western nations: the general unaffordability of professional legal services."

"As chair of the national Action Committee on Access to Civil and Family Justice, Justice Cromwell oversees an ad hoc group broadly representative of the legal community across Canada, including judges, the organized Bar, legal regulators, legal aid plans, pro bono plans, court administrators, academics, and the deputy justice ministers for Alberta and Canada (...)"
"The impetus for this unprecedented national initiative to improve 'access to justice' came four years ago from Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, who raised a red flag about middle-income Canadians’ inability to afford lawyers."
Access to justice was an issue much in evidence at the recent annual meeting of the Canadian Bar Association that took place earlier this month in Vancouver as can be seen in a number of resolutions passed:


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Quebec Bar Association TV Series 3rd Season Begins in September

The third season of the television series "Le Droit de Savoir" (The right to know) will begin on Quebec cable TV on September 18th on the Canal savoir channel in Quebec, and then on the Télé-Québec public educational network in the summer of 2013.

The series is a production of the Quebec Bar Association.

Episodes in the coming season will feature reports on topics such as aboriginal law, maritime law, court martials, impaired driving, sniffer dogs and the work of border service personnel.


Full episodes from seasons 1 and 2 are archived on the show's website.



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Friday, August 17, 2012

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 August 1-15, 2012 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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Law Commission of Ontario Interim Report on Vulnerable Workers

Earlier this week, the Law Commission of Ontario released its Interim Report on Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Work for public feedback.

Vulnerable workers work at jobs characterized by low wages with few or no benefits, little job security and minimal control over work conditions. They tend to be  women, racialized persons, immigrants, Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, older adults and youth.

The Commission will make recommendations relating to improvements to the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

It will also review and make recommendations about existing community and government supports and programs for workers’, employers and for training and education, as well as the role of labour organizations.

The Commission will be gathering feedback until October 1, 2012. It anticipates releasing a Final Report on the issue in the winter of 2013.

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Summer 2012 Issue of Law Library Journal Now Available

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice October Conference in Calgary

The Canadian Institute for the Administration of Justice (CIAJ) is holding its next annual conference in Calgary from October 10th to 12th, 2012.

The conference theme is The Courts and Beyond: The Architecture of Justice in Transition:
"Changes in the administration of justice pose challenges for the role of the Courts as the traditional guardians and determiners of fundamental rights, CIAJ’s annual conference will consider the impact of these changes as to access to and the cost of justice, the ability of the Courts to adapt and respond, adequate accountability and transparency mechanisms and the necessity of broader structural approaches or legislative steps. The conference will be of interest to members of the legal profession, the judiciary, administrative agencies, arbitrators, mediators, government policy-makers, media and the public."
More about the CIAJ's activities can be found on the Institute's website.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

International Federation of Library Associations Endorses Code of Ethics

The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) recently endorsed and adopted a Code of Ethics for Librarians and Other Information Workers.

The final text is the result of extensive consultations in 2011 and 2012 with hundreds of IFLA members and non-members.

The Code emphasizes access to information, anti-discrimination principles, the protection of personal data, a balance between users' and creators' rights in copyright matters, as well as neutrality and an unbiased stance regarding collection, access and service.

The IFLA website features many national library association codes of ethics.

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Tasmania Law Reform Institute Paper on Protecting Anonymity of Sexual Crime Victims

The Tasmania Law Reform Institute in Australia  has released an issues paper on Protecting the Anonymity of Victims of Sexual Crimes:
"Victims  of  sexual  crimes often wish  to  remain  anonymous,  or  at  the very  least not have people  they know, or  the wider community know about  the fact that they were assaulted. Traditionally, one result of this has been reluctance by victims  to  report  sexual  assault. Partly  in  an  effort  to  encourage  victims  to come forward, as well as wishing to respect a victim’s wish for privacy, the law has introduced restrictions on the reporting (predominantly by the media) of the identity  of  victims.  In  other  words,  when  reporting  on  police  investigations, court proceedings, and so on, the media are not allowed to disclose the identity of a victim of sexual assault. In Tasmania this rule is primarily found in s 194K of  the Evidence Act  2001  (Tas). While  this  rule may  seem  straightforward,  in practice difficulties  can  arise  in determining  exactly what  information  can  and cannot  be  released.  This  was  recently  exemplified  in  the  Tasmanian  case concerning the prostitution of a 12-year-old girl by her mother and her mother’s friend, Gary John Devine. Neither the girl’s nor her mother’s name was reported in  the media, yet  the  reporting of Devine’s name, as well as some other details relating  to  the  case,  could have  led many people, particularly  those who knew Devine,  the  mother  or  the  girl,  to  identify  her (...)"
"This Issues Paper will give detailed consideration to the background and policy behind the rule, how it has been interpreted and applied in the past, how it should be applied  in  the future, whether  legislative reform  is desirable  to aid  in its application, and if so, what kind of reform is appropriate"
The paper compares the law in Tasmania with the situation in a number of other jurisdictions including other parts of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

English Law Commission Consultation on Scandalising the Court

The Law Commission of England has launched a consultation on Scandalising the Court as part of its wider project on contempt of court:
"A well-publicised case in spring 2012 highlighted the historic common law offence of scandalising the court. This offence covers conduct likely to undermine the administration of justice or public confidence in the administration of justice, where the conduct does not impinge on particular proceedings. Scandalising the court has been defined as 'any act done or writing published calculated to bring a Court or a judge of the Court into contempt, or to lower his authority' (R v Gray [1900] 2 QB 36, 40, by Lord Russell of Killowen CJ). There has not been a successful prosecution for scandalising the court in England and Wales since 1931, although it has been used more recently in other common law jurisdictions (...)"
"The consultation considers whether the current offence of scandalising the court should be abolished or, in the alternative, whether it should be retained but modified and, if so, how. "

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Lawyers Weekly Interview With Retiring Supreme Court of Canada Justice Marie Deschamps

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly features an interview with Justice Marie Deschamps who is retiring from the Supreme Court of Canada:
" 'I think one message about ‘true ethics’ that can be conveyed is that, yes, individual rights have to be protected and safeguarded, but life in society is important, and respect for the other person’s rights…[as well as] life in society implies that there will be constraints'."
"That philosophy was most strongly expressed in her dissents at the Supreme Court, where she heard 682 cases and wrote 117 judgments, as of July 31 — ​she still has six more months to render decisions"
“ 'Certainly, in many cases I’ve been concerned that the rights of society are not given sufficient importance,' Justice Deschamps acknowledged. 'But I’m also concerned that individuals are treated fairly. For example, in criminal law, I may be more concerned with the right of society in the search for truth, but I will make no compromise on the reliability of evidence. In my view, the basic foundation of our criminal law is that the evidence has to be reliable — ​so I am not for wrongful convictions'."
"Yet in ensuring that society is 'a workable place — ​a place where everyone has their place, not only individuals', we must 'take care that we live in a peaceful and just society, and that means having at heart the need to look for the truth,' she said, summing up her perspective on criminal law

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Quebec Bar Association Steps Into Election Campaign

The Quebec Bar Association has launched the Votre Justice (Your Justice) website to raise access to justice issues during the provincial election campaign. Quebecers will be electing Members of the National Assembly on September 4th, 2012.

The Association has identified four issues.

For each one, the website describes the current situation, outlines the Association's position, suggests questions for debate, and (when available) summarizes the proposals of the 5 main parties (Parti libéral du Québec, Parti québécois, Québec solidaire, Option nationale, and Coalition Avenir Québec).

The issues are:
  • underinvestment in the justice system
  • changes to the tax system to increase accessibility
  • justice in the Northern half of the province
  • convening a summit on justice in 2013


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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Two New Releases from Association of Research Libraries: Strategic Planning & Digital Archives

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) recently released 2 issues of its publication Research Libraries Issues.
  • Issue 278: "This issue of RLI features strategies for managing time from Shirley K. Baker, recently retired from Washington University in St. Louis. Her insights stem from years of experience and address the critical balance of multiple priorities in a library director’s life. Also in this issue, several authors discuss the value of the ARL 2030 Scenarios in strategic planning. Jennifer Church-Duran and Deborah Ludwig from the University of Kansas (KU) present a review of the ARL scenarios and how they can be used effectively to engage library staff in discussions about future services and programs. They follow this introduction by describing how the scenarios created a foundation for the KU Libraries’ strategic plan and influenced their contributions to the university’s campus plan. The ARL 2030 Scenarios come together with the balanced scorecard in an article by library staff at Johns Hopkins University and McMaster University."
  • Issue 279:  "This issue of RLI provides an overview of the legal and contractual issues involved in digitizing special collections and archives. The issue also includes a model digitization contract for use with outside vendors, as well as model 'deeds of gift' that can secure permission from rights holders to make donated material accessible on the web. Finally, the issue presents a critical essay by Kevin L. Smith, Director of Scholarly Communications at Duke University, on a new way of thinking about copyright and risk management in digitizing special collections."
ARL is a nonprofit membership organization of 126 research libraries in Canada and the United States.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Providing Walk-In Access to E-Resources at the University of Bath (UK)

The most recent issue of Ariadne features an article on Walk-in Access to e-Resources at the University of Bath:
"Licence restrictions imposed by publishers define and limit access rights and librarians have increasingly taken on the role of restricting access on behalf of the publisher, rather than granting access on behalf of their institution.  In other words, librarians and their institutions are no longer free to decide who may read this material as they no longer own it."
"This situation has been the subject of negotiation for some time, and it is fair to say that an accommodation has been reached in many cases through less restrictive licensing terms.  Some clearer definition of groups who can use e-journals has eased the situation for 'authorised users', such as those teaching students of an institution who are not directly employed by the institution itself, for example, through franchised courses.  However, there is still a group of potential users who do not have a relationship with an institution other than a wish to access the Library's holdings to further their research or their curiosity.  In the past, such access was at the discretion of the Librarian but with regard to e-journals it is now set out in publishers’ licences, usually under the terms of 'walk-in access' to these resources.  This in itself is a positive move and seemingly restores some access control to the Librarian.  In practice, however, it has not proved to be straightforward to implement."
In the article, Kate Robinson, Lizz Jennings and Laurence Lockton outline a low-cost solution to walk-in (visitor) access to licensed e-journals using a wiki as an electronic resources management system.

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Video Tutorial for U.S. Official Document Site FDsys

The Government Printing Office, the official publisher of the U.S. government, has published the first in a series of video tutorials on how to search the FDsys site.

FDsys is the Federal Digital System that provides free online access to authenticated official publications from all three branches of the U.S. Federal Government.

The tutorial introduces basic searching, which in this case includes Boolean operators (and, or, not), quotes to search a phrase, proximity operators (near, before, adj) and parentheses to group search terms.




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Friday, August 03, 2012

First Online-Only Issue of Canadian Library Association's Feliciter Magazine

The Canadian Library Association has published its first online-only issue of its magazine Feliciter.

It includes many features on the association's recent annual conference in Ottawa.


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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

July 2012 Issue of Connected Bulletin on Courts and Social Media

The July 2012 issue of Connected is available online. The bulletin covers news about the impact of new social media on the courts.

It is published by the Virginia-based National Center for State Courts and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

One of this month's items is about a mistrial declared in a New Brunswick murder case because of a juror's Facebook activities.

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Supreme Canada of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of July 1-31, 2012 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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