Wednesday, October 31, 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 October 16 to 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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Library and Archives Canada Terminates Inter-Library Loan Service

The CLA Govt Library & IM Professionals Network, part of the Canadian Library Association, has published an announcement from Library and Archives Canada (LAC) that the institution is putting an end to its inter-library loan service in the next few weeks.

The LAC's service has been an indispensable tool nationwide for researchers and libraries.

Here is the text:
"Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) will end in December 2012.  Users of LAC’s current services should note the following dates:
  • November 13, 2012: End of loan requests from international libraries.
  • November 16, 2012: End of renewals. All items loaned after this date will be non-renewable.
  • December 11, 2012: End of loan requests, location searches, and ILL-related photocopying services."
"LAC’s ILL listserv (CANRES-L) and Canadian Library Gateway also will be archived in December 2012."

"LAC will continue to facilitate interlibrary loan activities among other institutions through the ILL form in AMICUS, and through ongoing administration of Canadian Library Symbols."

"Through our modernized service channels, LAC will emphasize increased digital access to high-demand content.  LAC is working with Canada’s ILL user community in order to inform this approach to accessing the institution’s unique holdings." 
Earlier Library Boy posts about the impact of federal budget cutbacks at LAC include:
  • Canadian Library Association Dismayed by Federal Budget Impact (May 2, 2012): "The Canadian Library Association (CLA) today released a statement criticizing the 2012 federal budget which it believes will hit federal libraries and Libraries and Archives Canada very hard."
  • Canadian Association of Law Libraries 2012 Conference Resolutions (May 10, 2012): "A number of resolutions were adopted yesterday at the Annual General Meeting ... of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Toronto (...) members also voted to support the Save Libraries and Archives Canada campaign ..."
  • September 2012 Campaign Update of Save Library and Archives Canada (September 27, 2012): "The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) launched a campaign this year called Save Library and Archives Canada (LAC) because of its fear that recent federal budget cuts would hamper the institution's many collections and activities. The campaign has just published a September 2012 Campaign Update (...)"

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Canadian Centre for Court Technology Guidelines on Social Media in the Courtroom

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Court Technology (CCCT) held its Forum 2012 in Montreal. The Centre brings together justice system partners such as the Canadian Judicial Council, the  Canadian Bar Association and the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers of Justice to enhance technological innovation and excellence in our court systems.

At the meeting, the CCCT released Draft National Guidelines Regarding the Use of Electronic Communication Devices in Court Proceedings.

It also published a very useful compilation of existing court policies on the issue from across the country.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Supreme Court of Canada Hearings Calendar for November 2012

The Supreme Court of Canada has published its calendar for November 2012.

To find out more about any particular case, the Court's website has a section that allows users to find docket information, case summaries as well as factums from the parties. All you need to do is click on a case name.

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

CTV Interview With Canada's Chief Justice

Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin gave a rare television interview Sunday on the CTV network program Question Period in which she discussed court backlogs and delays:
"To ease the judicial process along, McLachlin suggested that more pre-trial planning could take place so prosecutors and judges can review resources and try to anticipate problems before they occur."
In the interview, she also talked about the impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that was adopted 30 years ago.

Earlier Library Boy posts on Chief Justice McLachlin's involvement in access to justice issues include:
  • Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell Leads Access to Justice Initiative (August 20, 2012): "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." 
  • New Reports Released by National Action Committee on Access to Justice (September 5, 2012): "The National Action Committee is a broad-based committee established by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin. It is chaired by Supreme Court of Canada Justice Thomas Cromwell. Members of the committee include the Canadian Bar Association, Justice Canada, and the Canadian Judicial Council. It works to identify ways to reduce barriers to access to the civil justice system."

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Law Library of Congress Report on Bioethics Legislation in Selected Countries

The Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. occasionally publishes reports that compare the laws on a given theme in a number of countries.

Earlier this month, the Library published Bioethics Legislation in Selected Countries:
"This report examines the field of bioethics from an international and regional legal perspective. It focuses on major international law documents such as the United Nations Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights and UNESCO declarations on human cloning and the human genome. Coverage of regional legal instruments includes the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (the Oviedo Convention) and its Protocols on cloning, transplantation, and research with human beings. Work on surrogacy issues by the Hague Conference on Private International Law is also discussed, as are some African regional legal instruments on biosafety."
The individual countries covered are the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, China, Israel, India, Kenya, New Zealand, Brazil and Russia.

Earlier comparative law reports from the Law Library of Congress include:

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan Consultation Paper on Crown Immunity

The Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan has published a Consultation Paper on the Presumption of Crown Immunity:
"At common law, 'the king can do no wrong.'  In 1905,  Halsbury’s Laws of England could still state the general rule that 'no remedy lies against the Sovereign' unless an express exception in law exists.  It is hardly surprising that this broad notion of Crown immunity has been abridged over the last century.  The most important reform was the adoption of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947 in England.  This legislation was quickly copied throughout the Commonwealth. Saskatchewan’s Proceedings Against the Crown Act  sets out when an individual may sue the Crown, the liability of the Crown in tort,  and certain rules and enactments that bind the Crown."

"This Act does not, however, eliminate the presumption of Crown immunity, which is the topic of this Consultation Paper. Simply stated, the presumption of Crown immunity is the presumption that a statute does not 'bind the Crown' unless it expressly states that it does (...)"

"Some statutes  include a provision stating that 'the Crown is bound by this Act,' but many do not.  In some cases, the decision to immunize the Crown from obligations created by the statute may have been a matter of deliberate policy.  In many cases,however,  it is possible that  legislators simply failed to consider whether immunity is appropriate, and thus created what has been called immunity by default (...)"

"Law reform agencies in Alberta,  British Columbia, and Ontario have recommended reversal of the presumption so that a statute would bind the Crown unless the statute expressly provides otherwise.  The presumption has in fact been reversed  by  the Legislatures of  British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Considerable academic literature criticizing the presumption exists (...)"

"This consultation paper discusses the presumption of Crown immunity and the consequences of reversing it.  This paper:
(a)  Discusses  how  the courts in Canada  have  interpreted and applied the presumption;
(b)  Reviews the criticisms of the presumption; and
(c)  Considers how reversing  the presumption  would affect  the law in Saskatchewan."
 The consultation runs to March 31, 2013.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Canadian Association of Law Libraries November 22 Webinar on Copyright

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) will host a webinar on Copyright Excess and Access on November 22, 2012 at 1PM Eastern.

The speakers will be Mary Hemmings, Chief Law Librarian at Thompson Rivers University, and Howard Knopf, Chairman of the Copyright Policy Committee of the Canadian Bar Association.

Knopf has frequently lectured at the invitation of the judiciary, government officials, law schools, continuing legal education fora, the World Intellectual Property Organization and various NGOs. He publishes the Excess Copyright blog.

 Mary Hemmings is the Chair of the CALL Copyright Committee.

The webinar costs only $45.20 for members and $67.80 for non-members. Recordings of each session will be available to registered participants.

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CanLII Offers New Commentary Text on Exclusion of Evidence

CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute) recently added to the new commentary section on its website by publishing The Supreme Court of Canada on S. 24(2) of the Charter by Hon. Gerard Mitchell, the retired chief justice of Prince Edward Island:
"Section 24(2) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms directs courts, to exclude unconstitutionally obtained evidence where, having regard to all the circumstances, its admission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. As part of the Charter, and by virtue of s. 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, s. 24(2) is the supreme law of the land. It changed the common law which prior thereto would have admitted virtually all reliable relevant evidence regardless of how it was obtained.1 However, s. 24(2) does not completely erase the common law rule. It does not provide for the exclusion of all unconstitutionally obtained evidence. In fact, such evidence remains presumptively admissible. Section 24(2) only mandates exclusion where, after considering all the circumstances, the court concludes that admission of the evidence would bring the administration of justice into disrepute."
CanLII, whose funding comes from members of Canada’s provincial and territorial law societies, makes Canadian legal information, mostly legislation an case law, available for free via the Internet.But it has recently started offering commentary.

Earlier this year, CanLII described its strategic priorities for 2012-2014 as including the following:
"When it comes to accessing content on or through the CanLII site, CanLII will strive to expand its users’ access to high value legal materials. This may involve incorporating secondary sources into CanLII, but it could also occur through facilitating searches of materials hosted elsewhere as CanLII’s interests go beyond growing its own site and extend to pursuing partnerships that advance the goals of other leading legal information providers. Potential partners include not-for-proft as well as for-proft institutions with an interest in expanding the free availability of their legal materials."

"CanLII will also seek out opportunities to improve understanding. For example, working with educational and other organizations, CanLII will explore opportunities to develop specialized services such as topic compilations and open access casebooks, and other professional user-generated content."

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Lawyers Weekly Profile of Canadian on Court of Arbitration for Sport

This week's issue of The Lawyers Weekly features the article Quick, high-stakes decisions can make for Olympian task.

It profiles Toronto lawyer Graeme Mew, an Olympic Games arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport: (CAS)
"As one of only 12 people chosen from around the world as arbitrators for the Olympics, Mew was on standby in London to deal with disputes that arose between nations. He was required to report for duty 10 days before the Games even began."

"Mew, of Clyde & Co. in Toronto, has spent his career as a lawyer and a dispute resolution professional in England and Canada. Of the 11 disputes that took place during the Games, Mew heard four appeals — ​in equestrian, canoeing, sailing and modern pentathlon"
The  CAS was created in the 1980s by the International Olympic Committee

In addition to explaining how the arbitration of disputes happens at the Olympic Games, the article also provides information about sports law arbitration in Canada.

Earlier Library Boy posts about law and the Olympics include:
  • New Law Library Journal Articles (September 6, 2006): "We have just received Law Library Journal vol. 98, no. 3 (Summer 2006) at the Supreme Court of Canada library. Among the articles that caught my attention: (...) Exploring the Court of Arbitration for Sport: 'The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), recognized as an emerging leader in international sports dispute resolution, was created specifically to address sports-related matters. Since its formation, the CAS has addressed a wide range of sports-related issues, including matters pertaining to the positive drug tests of athletes, the challenges to technical decisions of officials made during competition, and the eligibility of athletes to compete in the Olympic Games. Of significance, CAS awards have been recognized as developing a lex sportiva, that is, a set of guiding principles and rules in international sports law'. " 
  • New Internet Research Guide for Olympic Studies (April 2, 2008): "Intute, a British university consortium that offers free online service access to evaluated web resources for education and research, has just published a new subject booklet entitled 'Internet resources for Olympic studies'. The booklet describes resources relating to associations, the history of the Olympic Games, past and future Games, athletes, sports research, event management, and legal issues (arbitration of sports disputes, disability sports, gender equity and doping)." 
  • Law and the Olympics (January 6, 2010): "Blogosaurus Lex, the blog from the Legal Resource Centre of Alberta, had a post in December on Law and the Olympics."
  • Updated Research Guide on International Sports Law (August 31, 2011): "The GlobaLex collection at the New York University School of Law has just updated its International Sports Law research guide. It looks at the key institutions governing international sports (...) There are sections on doping, women and sports, violence as well as suggested sports law bibliographies, databases and periodicals."
  • June 2012 Issue of Legal Information Management on Sports Law (July 3, 2012): "The most recent issue of Legal Information Management, a journal of the British and Irish Association of Law Libraries, is devoted to the Olympics and sports law."

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Bill C-37: Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act

The Library of Parliament has published a legislative summary of Bill C-37: Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act. The bill was referred last week to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights:
"The purpose of the bill is to double victim surcharge amounts and to make them mandatory for all offenders convicted of a criminal offence. In making these amendments, the bill seeks to increase offenders’ accountability to victims of crime.
To achieve this objective, the bill amends:
  • section 737(5) of the Criminal Code (the Code) to eliminate judicial discretion (clause 3(3) of the bill);
  • section 737(2) of the Code to increase the victim surcharge from 15% to 30% of a fine imposed by the court (clause 3(2) of the bill);
  • section 737(2) of the Code to increase the victim surcharge from $50 to $100 for offences punishable by summary conviction if no fine is imposed by the court (clause 3(2) of the bill); and
  • section 737(2) of the Code to increase the victim surcharge from $100 to $200 for offences punishable by indictment if no fine is imposed by the court (clause 3(2) of the bill)."
"The victim surcharge is a financial penalty imposed on convicted offenders at the time of sentencing. It is added to any other penalty imposed by the court when an offender is discharged (section 730 of the Code) or when the offender is convicted of an offence under the Code or under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act."

"Brought into being in 1989, the victim surcharge was created to help fund provincial and territorial victim services. The amount of the victim surcharge is not paid directly to the victim but is placed in a special fund administered by the province or territory where the victim surcharge is imposed. The fund, sometimes called a 'victim assistance fund,' is used to provide services and assistance to all victims of crime rather than to one victim in particular. Though it is not paid directly to the victim, the victim surcharge is considered a mechanism that makes it possible to establish a relationship between the personal accountability of the offender and the victim of the offence."
It is possible to follow the progress of the bill on the LEGISinfo website.

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

Library of Parliament Research Publication on Role of the Courts in the Recognition of Language Rights

The Library of Parliament recently published a revised version of its research publication The Role of the Courts in the Recognition of Language Rights
"In 1988, a revised version of the Official Languages Act was passed. The current Act takes into account the new constitutional order imposed by the Charter and adds provisions pertaining to language of work in federal institutions, the vitality and development of the official language minority communities, and the advancement of English and French in Canadian society. It also provides a remedy that allows any complainant to appeal to the Federal Court to ensure that his or her language rights are respected."

"The adoption of these constitutional and legislative measures gave official language minority communities new tools with which to affirm their rights in court. Since 1982, hundreds of judgments have clarified the scope of language rights (...)"

"The courts have contributed much to the recognition of language rights in Canada. A good example of their contribution is the progress made by official-language communities in a minority setting with regard to minority-language education. However, long, complex court cases can be very costly and time-consuming. Moreover, systematic use of the courts can create a culture of confrontation where the parties lock horns more than they communicate and work together."

"Official-language communities in a minority setting cannot make any real headway without a clear commitment from governments to the advancement of their rights. Political action cannot be, and must never be, brushed aside"

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Friday, October 19, 2012

March 2013 Symposium on Legacy of Retired Supreme Court of Canada Justice Louise Charon

The University of Ottawa will host a symposium on March 22-23, 2013 Celebrating the Contributions of Justice Louise Charron.

Madame Charron retired from the Supreme Court of Canada recently:
"This Symposium, like past events, provides an important opportunity for diverse members of the Canadian legal community to come together to celebrate and honour Justice Charron and her exceptional contributions to the Canadian legal landscape during her 23-year judicial career.  Although Justice Charron’s jurisprudence spans a variety of subject areas including private law, contracts, family law and constitutional law, she is best known for her foundational contributions to the world of criminal law and the notoriously complex law of evidence.  During her nearly seven years on the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Charron penned more of the Court’s criminal law jurisprudence than any other judge, and many of her decisions truly revolutionized the face of Canadian criminal law.  Committed to legal education and continuing education for lawyers and judges, Justice Charron has also served as the Associate Director of the National Judicial Institue and most recently joined the Advisory Board of the University of Ottawa’s Legal Writing Academy, a flagship program designed to elevate the writing skills of our JD students through innovative course offerings, peer-to-peer mentoring and writing workshops."

"The Symposium will result in a bilingual, edited collection of peer-reviewed scholarship broadly motivated by Justice Charron’s career and her diverse areas of expertise.  The publication of an edited volume of essays will create a permanent record of the Symposium proceedings and will allow for the broader dissemination of the ideas and analyses presented at the Symposium. "
Earlier Library Boy posts on Justice Charron include:

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New White Paper on Skills Needed By Today's Law Librarians

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) have co-published a white paper called The New Librarian that looks at the new skills that today's law librarians need to have or acquire to do well and survive.

It is full of examples of how law librarians in different contexts are facing up to the challenges of constant change.

The table of contents:

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Tuesday, October 16, 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 October 1st to 15th, 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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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, October 15, 2012

House of Commons Hansard Gets Social Media Facelift

The electronic Hansard, the official record of federal parliamentary debates of the House and the Senate, is undergoing a major change, at least on the House side:

"Now, video clips pop up next to a transcript of the speech, alongside links to share content on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe to an automatic feed."

"The coding behind the website has also been cut up, making it easier for those interested in repurposing parts of Hansard for their own reasons — such as MPs who might want to build a app or put content on their websites."
Sounds greats.

However, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporations's Kady O'Malley has found a few glitches.

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

Canadian Lawyer Magazine Overview of Cases With Social Media as Evidence

Canadian Lawyer magazine today published an article by James D. Cuming and Craig Gillespie that shows that courts all across Canada have been finding that information on people's Facebook and other social networking accounts is highly relevant to litigation.

The authors, who are law partners in Calgary in the areas of class actions, medical malpractice and serious personal injury claims, summarize the key cases in which social networking information has been a key issue:
"In an action in which the claimant’s physical and mental ability to carry out tasks of daily living, to work, and to enjoy leisure activities are in issue, the information gained from user-posted photos and comments can be remarkable."

"On Facebook, a user may choose to make her profile information public, but more commonly will restrict the profile information to Facebook 'friends.' The challenge in document production arises when a party’s Facebook profile is private."

"Plaintiffs opposing production typically raise privacy as their chief concern. The courts have rejected the privacy argument on the grounds the plaintiff has already shared the information or images with, typically, several hundred 'friends' (...)"

"In summary, the case law is remarkably consistent across jurisdictions in characterizing the information posted on social networking sites such as Facebook as documents or records with potential relevance in litigation. Given the pervasive use of Facebook, plaintiff and defence counsel should be prepared to address social media as a routine part of their files."






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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Lawyers Weekly Profile of New Supreme Court of Canada Justice Richard Wagner

The current issue of The Lawyers Weekly offers a profile of Richard Wagner, who was recently confirmed as the newest appointee to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The article is entitled ‘Practical’ justice Wagner aces confirmation hearing -Supreme Court’s newest addition wins praise for his teamwork and gift for clear writing:
"What gets a jurist shortlisted for the nation’s highest court? Feet on the ground, leadership in the organized bar, and a gift for clear expression certainly help."

"Two members of the latest all-party Supreme Court Selection Panel recently shed some light on the closed-door appointment process, disclosing that Justice Richard Wagner’s 'practicality,' readable judgments, and contributions to the legal profession helped propel the former Quebec Court of Appeal judge to the 'final three' short list that the five-MP panel unanimously handed to the government."

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Youth and Adults in Correctional System

Last week, Statistics Canada published 2 releases dealing with correctional services: 

Youth correctional services, 2010/2011:
"On any given day in 2010/2011, there were about 14,800 young people aged 12 to 17 under the supervision of Canada's correctional system. Of these, just over 13,300 (90%) were under supervision in the community, usually on probation. The remaining 1,500 (10%) were in custody."

"The youth corrections rate per 10,000 population aged 12 to 17 has generally been on a downward trend in recent years. The 2010/2011 rate was 6% lower than in 2009/2010 and 12% lower than five years earlier."

"The number of young people in remand awaiting trial or sentencing outnumbered those in sentenced custody for the fourth consecutive year. Of the 1,500 young people in custody in 2010/2011, 54% (or 820 youth) were in remand, while 44% were in sentenced custody."

"Between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, the rate of youth under community supervision fell 6%, while rates for those in sentenced custody and remand both declined 5%."
Adult correctional services, 2010/2011:
"On any given day in 2010/2011, there were about 38,000 adults in Canada's prisons. This was nearly 900 more than the year before, resulting in a 0.9% increase in the rate of incarceration per 100,000 adults."

"Adults serving a federal sentence of two years or more accounted for 36% of those in prison. Another 29% of adults were serving a provincial/territorial sentence of less than two years. The remaining 34% had been remanded to a provincial/territorial facility to await trial or sentencing."

"For the sixth year in a row, provincial/territorial custody facilities housed more adults in remand than in sentenced custody. Regardless, the rate of adults in remand was down 6% from the previous year, the first notable decline in over a decade."

"In contrast, the rate of adults serving sentences in provincial/territorial institutions rose 7% between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011, one of the few times this rate has increased since the early 1990s. The 2010/2011 rate of adults serving sentences in federal prisons also rose from the year before, up 3%."

"An additional 125,000 adult offenders were under community supervision, usually on probation, on any given day in 2010/2011."

"Following a period of decline throughout the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, the rate of offenders on probation has remained relatively stable."

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Twenty Year Evolution of Free Access to Law

The 2012 Law Via the Internet conference took place last week at Cornell University Law School in Ithaca, New York.

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

Many of the presentations are already online.

Three Australian scholars who took part in the conference,  Andrew Mowbray, Philip Chung, and Graham Greenleaf, published an interesting overview of the Free Access to Law concept. Their paper, The Meaning of 'Free Access to Legal Information': A Twenty Year Evolution, is available on the website of the Social Science Research Network:
"The paper first reviews previous implied and explicit attempts to answers this question, identifying six principal attempts: (i) the example set by the LII (Cornell) and LexuM in the early 90s; (ii) AustLII’s 1995 formulation of the obligations of official publishers; (iii) the 2002 Declaration on Free Access to Law; (iv) the ‘Guiding Principles’ for States formulated by a 2008 expert meeting convened by the Hague Conference on Private International Law; (v) the ‘Law.Gov principles’ developed by Public Resources.org in 2010; and (vi) the draft Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act recommended in 2011 by the US National Conference of Commissioners of Uniform State Laws."

"Analysis of these six formulations shows that, over the last twenty years, a substantial amount of international consensus has developed on what ‘free access to legal information’ now means. Up to 30 separate principles can be identified. Most are found in more that one statement of principles, and many are now relatively common in the practices of both States and providers of free access to legal information (both government and NGO providers). Many concern measure to avoid the development of monopolies in the publication of the core legal documents of a jurisdiction. Which principles are essential to the meaning of ‘free access to legal information’, and which are only desirable, is usually clear."

"Two complementary meanings of ‘free access to legal information’ emerge from this analysis. The first states the obligations of the State in relation to ensuring free access to legal information – but not necessarily providing it. The key elements concern the right of republication. The second meaning states the conditions under which an organisation can correctly be said to be a provider of free access to legal information. We argue that a better definition is needed than the ‘consensus’ suggests, and suggest one which is based on avoiding conflicts with maximising the quality and quantity of free access."

"One use of such a set of principles is to help evaluate the extent to which any particular jurisdiction has implemented free access to legal information. A brief example is given of Australia, a county with a generally good record but some deficiencies."

"Finally the paper considers what steps should be taken to most effectively realise a reformulated concept of ‘free access to legal information’, by civil society (including legal information institutes), by States at the national level, and at the international level."
2012 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School, the first legal website on the Internet and the birthplace of the free law, open access movement. It is also the 10th Anniversary of the Declaration on Free Access to Law.

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

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

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Privacy Commissioner Tables 2011-2012 Annual Report on Privacy Act

Last week, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, tabled her annual report to Parliament on the Privacy Act.

The Act covers the personal information-handling practices of federal government departments and agencies

Stoddart outlined a number of issues:
  • her office accepted 986 complaints in 2011-12, a 39 percent increase over the previous fiscal year.  The period also saw reported data breaches within federal organizations reach an all-time high of 80.  However, because data breach notification within the federal government is voluntary, it’s unclear whether this statistic represents an actual increase in privacy breaches or more diligent reporting by departments
  • there is a worrisome increase in delayed responses from organizations to individuals seeking personal information held about them, along with greater delays in responding to requests by people seeking access to their personal information
  • an audit of Veterans Affairs Canada found that the department had responded to earlier complaints about the inappropriate sharing of sensitive medical information by employees. The department has reviewed access rights to veterans’ electronic records and removed privileges outright for some 500 employees while reducing them for 95 percent of others. Investments have also been made in monitoring access to files, educating employees, and developing new policies, procedures and guidelines to respect privacy
  •  the annual report also contains findings from numerous investigations into privacy complaints against other federal organizations, including Correctional Services Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alberta Judge Takes Aim at Abusive Self-Represented Litigants

Alberta’s Associate Chief Justice J.D. Rooke recently delivered a very lengthy decision (Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571) that took aim at the problem caused by a certain type of self-represented litigant.

The judge described this litigant as an OPCA (Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument) litigant. OPCA litigants. often conspiracy theorists of one sort or another,  fall into a number of categories:
  • De-taxers
  • Freemen or freemen-on-the-land who focus on anti-government theories, with libertarian and right-wing overtones
  • Sovereign men or sovereign citizens who focus on state oppression and violence
  • Church of the Ecumenical Redemption International, a "pot" church
  • Moorish Law adherents in which black Muslims who self-identify as “Moors” are governed by their own laws, not the state
Judge Rooke offers a number of solutions on how to deal with the tactics of these vexatious and disruptive litigants who often argue that they are exempt from the law for different reasons.

Margaret Waddell has more in the Canadian Lawyer in the article Finally, some plain talk about a pervasive problem:
"His reasons begin by confirming: 'One of the purposes of these Reasons is, through this litigant, to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community, as a part of a process to eradicate the growing abuse that these litigants direct towards the justice and legal system we otherwise enjoy in Alberta and across Canada."

" '[T]hey also are intended to assist others, who have been taken in/duped by gurus, to realize that these practices are entirely ineffective; to empower opposing parties and their counsel to take action; and as a warning to gurus that the Court will not tolerate their misconduct'. "
Earlier Library Boy posts on the topic include:
  • Judges Struggling to Deal With Increased Number of Self-Represented Litigants (November 1, 2010): "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 (...)"
  • Dealing With Self-Represented Litigants (August 22, 2011): "In the most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly, John Schofield discusses the challenges lawyers face when the opposing party is a possibly vulnerable and angry self-represented litigant ..."
  • University of Windsor Law Prof Finds Self-Represented Litigants Going Through "Real Trauma" (June 6, 2012): "University of Windsor law professor Julie Macfarlane is interviewing hundreds of self-represented litigants in Ontario, Alberta and B.C. about their experiences in the family and civil court systems. As part of her research so far, she has discovered that up to 80 per cent of people in family court and 60 per cent in civil cases represent themselves (...) Macfarlane found people who represent themselves 'suffer real trauma' in doing so. She said the process 'overwhelms them'. Many people report feeling as if they were treated as second-class citizens and not taken seriously (...)"

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Monday, October 08, 2012

Library of Parliament Papers on Gender-Sensitive Parliaments

The Library of Parliament recently published two papers on gender-sensitive parliaments.

They are:
  • Gender-Sensitive Parliaments: 1. Advancements in the Workplace: "This paper will examine gender-sensitive parliaments from the perspective of the parliamentary workplace; specifically, how a parliament’s procedural framework, policies, infrastructure support and bodies contribute to a workplace that is sensitive to the realities and needs of both men and women (...) Many parliamentary workplaces are structured and operate according to rules, practices and processes, both written and unwritten, that were established in previous centuries. While these rules, practices and processes represent the foundation of a parliament, to remain relevant, a parliament must adapt to changing social realities. Recently, legislators and administrators of parliaments have increasingly acknowledged the need to promote a workplace that is gender-sensitive. For many parliaments, including Canada’s, these considerations are at present in their nascency. However, an important dialogue has begun and positive changes are being both explored and implemented." 
  • Gender-Sensitive Parliaments: 2. The Work of Legislators: "This paper examines gender-sensitive parliaments from the perspective of the work conducted by parliamentarians: specifically, how men and women in parliament can use their roles as legislators to contribute to gender equality in their societies (...) In gender-sensitive parliaments, the work of legislators must promote gender equality across the country and must serve as an example to society. While the development of legislation and budgets is based on long-standing rules, practices and processes that may include outdated concepts of gender equality (or none at all), legislators must adapt their work to keep pace with changing realities. For many parliaments, including Canada’s, the evolution towards applying principles of gender sensitivity to everyday work has been slow. A great number of legislators, however, have shown through examples internationally and nationally that they are ready for the challenge."

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Library of Parliament Research Publication on Canada’s Changing Federal Environmental Assessment Process

The Library of Parliament recently published a research publication on Canada’s Changing Federal Environmental Assessment Process:
"Canadian environmental assessments have evolved over time. Following the influential 1977 Berger Report on the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline in northern Canada, many assessments of large-scale projects have considered likely economic and social impacts as well as environmental effects. As the environment is an area of shared legislative jurisdiction, provinces have also developed environmental assessment regimes, sometimes applicable to the same projects that are subject to federal assessments."

"Following a global economic crisis in 2008, Canada’s government declared its top priority as being “to support jobs and growth and to sustain Canada’s economy.”  Perceiving inefficiencies in the environmental assessment process as a hindrance to economic development, the government included provisions in its budget implementation bill (Bill C-38) in the spring of 2012 to replace Canada’s federal environmental assessment process with a new environmental assessment process set out in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012 (CEAA, 2012). After much debate, Parliament passed the bill in June 2012."

"This paper summarizes the new federal environmental assessment process that came into force on 6 July 2012. It provides a limited comparison of the assessment process under the CEAA, 2012 with the assessment process under the former Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and discusses how projects are being addressed during the transition"

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

U.S. National Security Archive Guest Blogs on Free Government Information Blog

The U.S.-based blog Free Government Information was launched a few years ago by a group of academic librarians who wanted to raise public awareness of the importance of better access to all forms of government information.

They occasionally have guest bloggers and this month's guest will be a real treat for history buffs, archive geeks, hard core freedom of information fans and investigative reporter types: Malcolm Byrne from the National Security Archive, a non-governmental organization based at George Washington University that specializes in declassified documents. His first post is about the Archive's work on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis:
"For anyone who loves anniversaries, this month is a biggie. Fifty years ago the world survived one of the seminal events of the nuclear age -- the Cuban missile crisis. I mention it because almost from the very start, the National Security Archive’s been an active promoter of studying the crisis (we’ll have a series of postings of the latest findings on our site in the coming weeks), and it makes for a good case study of what our organization’s mission is and how we go about our work (...)"

"The Cuban missile crisis project in many ways became a model for our other historical documentation projects at the National Security Archive, including studies of U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union and the superpower rivalry, a series of crises in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and more. Most of the basic stories of these projects are available on our site and, as mentioned, the underlying documentation we and our partners and colleagues around the world have collected is also available here in Washington, D.C."
The National Security Archive was founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars and it combines the activities of an investigative journalism centre, a research institute on international affairs, and a library with a massive collection of declassified U.S. documents.

It has launched access to information lawsuits against the U.S. government, many of which have been successful, forcing the declassification of documents such as the Kennedy-Khrushchev letters during the Cuban Missile Crisis, previously censored photographs of flag-draped coffins of U.S. casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being unloaded at night at airforce bases, and documents that led to the conviction of a ranking military officer on human rights abuse charges in Guatemala.

Staff members and fellows have written over 60 books, many of which have won prizes including the Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. National Book Award.

Its website hosts more than one million pages of previously censored or secret government documents and constitutes one of the largest and most complete online archives of contemporary history.

It is based at George Washington University's Gelman Library. It receives no funding from government sources.

[Cross-posted to Slaw.ca]

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October 2012 Issue of Feliciter

The October 2012 issue of Feliciter, the official magazine of the Canadian Library Association, is now available online.

This number has a feature section on library strategic planning.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act

The Library of Parliament has published its legislative summary of Bill S-10: An Act to Implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions:
"The purpose of the bill is to implement Canada’s international obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in order that Canada may ratify the treaty. Under Canada’s constitutional system, obligations contained in international treaties must be implemented in legislation passed by Parliament in order to have direct effect under domestic law. Although Canada has not yet ratified the convention, Canada participated in its negotiation and signed it in December of 2008. Canada was also the first state to submit voluntary reports to the United Nations (UN) under the convention"

"Cluster munitions are weapons designed to disperse explosive submunitions (or explosive bomblets) that cause casualties and damage through blast, incendiary effects and fragmentation. Air-delivered or surface-launched, the number of submunitions released can range from the dozens to thousands, and are usually spread over a large area for use against armour and other materiel as well as personnel. Cluster munitions rely on simple mechanical fuses that arm the submunition based on its rate of spin; submunitions explode on impact or after a time of delay."

"In its 2012 voluntary report, Canada stated that it possesses a stockpile of approximately 12,600 cluster munitions, but that these were withdrawn from active service in 2007. A process to destroy remaining stockpiles reportedly is underway and is expected to be complete by sometime in 2014 (...)"

"This legislative summary discusses the humanitarian concerns raised by the use of cluster munitions during armed conflicts and set out the relationship between the Convention and certain related treaties dealing with prohibited weapons. The provisions of the bill are then summarized, followed by a review of comment on the bill"

"Internationally, there is considerable debate about the meaning and implementation of the CCM. One point in particular that is being contested is the nature and scope of the ban on cluster munitions in respect of activities by the military forces of states that have ratified the CCM (“states parties”) when they operate jointly with states that have not ratified the CCM. This is known as the interoperability exception."
It is possible to follow the progress of the bill through Parliament on the LEGISinfo website.

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Canada's Information Commissioner Launches Public Consultation on How To Improve Access Law

The Office of the Information Commissioner of Canada, which acts to ensure that federal institutions respect the Access to Information Act, has launched a public consultation on the modernization of the legislation. The process will end on December 21, 2012.
"We are soliciting your input and advice on many recurring issues which raise a fair share of questions with regard to the Access to Information Act. These issues deal with all aspects of the access to information program, such as coverage of the Act, exemptions and exclusions, powers of the Information Commissioner and so on.
As citizens, you can play a role in the ongoing dialogue about how to keep Canada’s access to information regime relevant and effective. In order to provide informed and objective advice to Parliament about Canada’s access to information regime, we encourage you to share your views on some of the questions posed in this open dialogue or on other issues that concern you."
To help people, the Office's website has sections on:
  • Open Dialogue: this section describes the origins of the Act, as well as some of its ongoing challenges and weaknesses
  • General Questions: these relate to the exclusion of many federal institutions from the coverage of the Act and the exclusion of certain kinds of documents such as Cabinet confidences
  • Specific Questions
  • Documentation: this section lists many earlier studies and proposals for changes to the Act

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Supreme Court of Canada Hearings Calendar for October 2012

The Supreme Court of Canada has published its calendar for October 2012.

To find out more about any particular case, the Court's website has a section that allows users to find docket information, case summaries as well as factums from the parties. All you need to do is click on a case name.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:46 pm 0 comments links to this post

September 2012 Issue of Connected Bulletin on Courts and Social Media

The September 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.

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Monday, October 01, 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 September 16-30, 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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