Friday, December 31, 2010

Interview With Legal Processing Workflow Specialist 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.

Earlier this week, the ninth interview in the series appeared. It is with Betty Lupinacci, Lead Technician for Legal Processing Workflow Resolution:
"What is the most interesting fact you have learned about the Law Library? That for some countries our collection of legal materials may be more complete and comprehensive than the collections of the country they came from. For example, under Taliban rule all prior Afghani codes were destroyed. The Law Library holds a selection of these old records."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:01 pm 0 comments

Top Canadian Legal Stories of 2010

Two legal publications have published their lists of top Canadian legal stories for 2010:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:54 pm 0 comments

Winners of the 2010 CLawBies – Canadian Law Blog Awards

The winners of the 5th annual CLawBies (Canadian Law Blog Awards) have been announced:
"You’ll notice a couple of changes in our lineup from previous years. We’ve renamed our top award — Best Canadian Law Blog or Blogger — in honour of Professor Simon Fodden, one of the founders and the driving force behind Slaw, which is widely recognized worldwide as one of the very best law blogs, period. With this name change, we are honourably retiring Slaw from CLawBies competition, installing it as a fixture in the blawgosphere to which all online publications, Canadian and otherwise, should aspire."

"Naming the award after Professor Fodden performs two functions: first, it permanently recognizes that Slaw is, year in and year out, the best of the best in Canadian law blogging — in fact, it’s rapidly evolving beyond mere 'blog' status into something much more. And secondly, it opens the competition to a wider pool of blogs that, great as they are, can’t compete with a colossus like Slaw. It’s a little like the old joke that the NHL would have to rename its Most Valuable Player Award the Wayne Gretzky Trophy. The NHL had Gretzky; the Canadian virtual legal community has Simon Fodden."
Here are the categories:
  1. Fodden Award for Best Canadian Law Blog
  2. Best Practitioner Blog
  3. Legal Culture Award
  4. Non-Legal Audience Award
  5. Friend of the North Awards ("American bloggers who look north of the 49th parallel to network and exchange ideas with their Canadian counterparts")
  6. EuroCan Connection Award
  7. Best Legal News Blog
  8. Practice Management Award
  9. Law Librarian Blog Award
  10. Best Legal Technology Blog
  11. Best Practice Group Blog
  12. Best New Law Blog Awards
  13. Law Professor/Law Faculty Blog Award

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:44 pm 0 comments

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recent Reports by the Law Commission of New Zealand

The Law Commission of New Zealand recently published two reports on criminal law as well as its second in a series of issues papers on the law of trusts:
  • Mental Impairment Decision-Making and the Insanity Defence: "The report Mental Impairment Decision-Making and the Insanity Defence (NZLC R120, December 2010) recommends a new decision-making framework for special patients, special care recipients, and restricted patients. Currently, their discharge, reclassification, and long leave for more than 7 days is dealt with by Ministers (the Minister of Health and, sometimes, the Attorney-General). Instead, we recommend a new Tribunal, the removal of the Minister of the Health from the process, and some slight modification to the Attorney-General’s functions. The report also reviews the insanity defence in section 23 of the Crimes Act 1961. The defence, despite being quite old-fashioned, is generally thought to be working as well as could be promised by any of the available reform options. All of the options are flawed, in one way or another. No change to the defence is proposed."
  • Compensating Victims of Crime: "The Commission favours the alignment of the regimes for enforcement of reparation orders that exist for District Courts and the High Court, and that are contained in the Summary Proceedings Act 1957 and the Crimes Act 1961 respectively. The Government has recently decided to amend the law so that these regimes are consistent, which the Commission supports. The Commission also recommends that the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 be amended so that prosecutors may obtain a restraining order preventing a defendant from dissipating his or her assets prior to an order for reparation being made in favour of any victims. In order to ensure such restraining orders are cost-effective, the Commission recommends they be available only where the victim has suffered loss or damage of at least $20,000 and the usual costs of restraining property of the type involved are less that the value of the property itself."
  • Review of the Law of Trusts Second Issues Paper: "The second issues paper will cover issues with the use of trusts (especially family trusts) in New Zealand. This paper will look at the purposes for which family trusts are established, including reducing tax obligations, protection of assets from creditors and relationship property claims, and meeting eligibility thresholds for government assistance. The paper examines different legislative and judicial responses to the use of trusts to 'look through' or disregard a trust where a trust has been used to frustrate the underlying policies of particular statutes. The Commission poses options for how the law could address concerns about the use of trusts. The paper seeks comment from as broad an audience as possible on issues such as why trusts are so common in New Zealand, whether limits should be placed on the uses to which trusts are put, whether high levels of settlor control is an issue for concern, how effective existing legislative mechanisms are at addressing the impacts of trusts and whether the law on sham trusts is satisfactory."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:27 pm 0 comments

ARL Library Assessment Conference Wrap-Up

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) organized the 2010 Library Assessment Conference in Baltimore, Maryland in late October.

The event looked at assessment in the following areas:
  • Digital libraries
  • Information resources and collections
  • Learning and teaching
  • Management information
  • Methods and tools
  • Organizational issues
  • Performance measurement and measures
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Services
  • Space planning and utilization
  • Usability
  • Usage and e-metrics
  • User needs
  • Value and impact
The conference website has now made available the texts of the poster sessions.

The ARL will publish the full conference proceedings in the coming year.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:18 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Juror (Mis)Behavior in the Information Age published an article last Sunday on Juror Behavior in the Information Age:

"While the lure of tweeting or doing a Google search or updating a Facebook profile seems all but irresistible, these upheavals are reshaping the social dimensions of the trial and breaking down the barriers that channel the flow of information within the courtroom. Online misbehavior by jurors can be reduced to four principle areas: (1) publishing or distributing information about a trial, e.g., tweeting or posting updates on a social media site; (2) uncovering information about the case by searching the Internet, entering social networking sites or visiting virtual crime scenes; (3) contacting parties, witnesses, lawyers or judges via social networking for example; and (4) discussing or deliberating the merits of the litigation prematurely or inviting outside opinions."

"Judges and court administrators are being tasked with responding to this technological revolution in jury behavior. They have been assigned expanded roles in jury selection and policing misconduct before, during and after trial (...)"

"This article collects recent and notable examples of juror online misbehavior and highlights scholarship and practice resources concerning its implications for voir dire, trial management and the administration of justice"

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 ..."
  • U.S. Conference of Court Public Information Officers Report on Social Media and the Courts (September 12, 2010): "Nearly half of judges (47.8 percent) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement 'Judges can use social media profile sites, such as Facebook, in their professional lives without compromising professional conduct codes of ethics.' ; (...) More than half (56 percent) of judges report routine juror instructions that include some component about new media use during the trial ; A smaller proportion of judges than might be expected (9.8 percent) reported witnessing jurors using social media profile sites, microblogging sites, or smart phones, tablets or notebooks in the courtroom."
  • 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 ..."
  • UK Lord Chief Justice Warns Over Court Tweeting (November 22, 2010): "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."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:32 pm 0 comments

National Library of Australia Social Media Policy and Guidelines

The National Library of Australia (NLA) has released Social Media Policy and Guidelines that are intended to "provide clarity to employees on how to conduct themselves in the emerging world of social media."

The NLA encourages employees to participate in online life but outlines their responsibilities when using social networking media. For example, in their online activities in an official capacity, employees are subject to the same standards required by the Public Service Act 1999 as they are in a physical workplace. The same attitude exists, as far as I can tell, in Canadian public sector departments and agencies that encourage their workforce to engage in social media.

This includes, according to the NLA document:
  • behaving honestly and with integrity
  • not providing false or misleading information in response to a request for information that is made for official purposes in connection with APS employment
  • dealing appropriately with information, recognising that some information needs to remain confidential
  • being apolitical, impartial and professional
  • delivering services fairly, effectively, impartially and courteously to the Australian public
  • behaving with respect and courtesy, and without harassment
  • being sensitive to the diversity of the Australian public
  • taking reasonable steps to avoid conficts of interest
  • making proper use of Commonwealth resources

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:24 pm 0 comments

Searchable Database of Library Value and ROI Literature

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has created a website for its Value, Outcomes, and Return on Investment of Academic Libraries (Lib-Value) project.

It is a three year study funded by the U.S,-based Institute of Museum and Library Services.

As part of the project, the ARL has compiled a searchable database of books, book chapters, journal articles, theses and dissertations, reports, presentations, and free websites on the subject of measuring library value:
"In addition to works presenting accounts of specific assessment projects, database users will find more general discussions of conceptual approaches to assessing value and return on investment, and descriptions of specific methods for evaluating the positive outcomes of providing a wide variety of resources and services."
[Source: Stephen's Lighthouse]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:16 pm 0 comments

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Santa's Privacy Policy

Here, care of McSweeney's Magazine, is Santa's privacy policy:

"At Santa's Workshop, your privacy is important to us. What follows is an explanation of how we collect and safeguard your personal information; the kind of information we collect; and your choices regarding our use and disclosure of this information (...) "

"We obtain information from a variety of sources. Much of it comes from unsolicited letters sent to Santa by children all over the world listing specific items they would like to receive for Christmas. Often these letters convey additional information as well, such as the child's hopes and dreams, how much they love Santa, and which of their siblings are doodyheads."

"The letters also provide another important piece of information—fingerprints (...) "

"We also harvest a saliva sample from the flap of the envelope in which the letter arrives in order to establish a baseline genetic identity for each correspondent. This is used to determine if there might be an inherent predisposition for naughtiness. A detailed handwriting analysis is performed as part of a comprehensive personality workup, and tells us which children are advancing nicely with their cursive and which are still stubbornly forming block letters with crayons long past the age when this is appropriate (...)"

"Sharing is one of the joys of Christmas. For this reason, we share your personal information with our affiliates, non-affiliated third parties, and anyone else who has a legitimate financial stake in a successful holiday season. Mrs. Claus also likes to have a look-see. Our affiliates include partners of Santa's Workshop who are actively involved in making Christmas happen. They include toy-making elves, flying reindeer, and Jesus. Non-affiliated third parties might include the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Hanukkah Harry."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:22 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ontario Publishes Advisory Panel Report on Anti-Activist Lawsuits

The Ontario government this week made public the final report of an advisory panel on SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).

SLAPP suits typically take the form of abusive defamation lawsuits aimed at shutting down criticism by non-governmental organizations or citizen lobby groups. Targets of SLAPPs in various parts of North America have been local residents, neighbourhood associations, municipal governments, and peaceful protesters, who have been sued for reporting bylaw violations, speaking at municipal meetings or even for picketing and circulating petitions.

The panel recommends that Ontario adopt anti-SLAPP legislation to protect the freedom of the
public to participate in matters of public interest:
"[19] Advocates of legislation who made submissions to the Panel tended to agree on
its main characteristics:

• It should provide a speedy and cheap method to stop lawsuits if those suits were brought for an improper purpose, namely to harass or intimidate the defendants;
• It should put the onus on plaintiffs to prove that their lawsuits were not improper;
• It should help rebalance an inequality of financial resources between the parties, possibly by an order that the plaintiff should pay the defendants’ costs at the outset of the litigation;
• It should provide stronger legal protection for citizens engaged in public participation, such as through special defences;
• It should deter people from bringing such suits in the first place, by exposing plaintiffs, and possibly their directors and officers, and lawyers, to awards of damages or even punitive damages.
• Its principles should apply to the actions of administrative tribunals as well as to lawsuits in court. The recent application to the Ontario Municipal Board for a very large costs award in a planning matter was frequently cited as having had an intimidating effect well beyond that one case, even though the Board ultimately declined to award costs after a lengthy hearing."
Quebec and many American states already have anti-SLAPP laws.

Earlier Library Boy posts on the subject include:
  • Quebec Environmental Pioneers Threatened With Being SLAPPed Into Oblivion (August 20, 2006): "One of Quebec's oldest environmental organizations, the Association québécoise de lutte contre la pollution atmosphérique (AQLPA) may soon have to close shop because of a multi-million dollar lawsuit from a scrap metal operator in what many observers believe is a SLAPP or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation."
  • Quebec Government Launches Study On Anti-Activist Defamation Suits (Otober 9, 2006): "On Friday, the Quebec government announced the creation of an expert panel to look into any possible measures to prevent Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, or SLAPPs for short (...) The Quebec expert panel will be led by Roderick A. Macdonald, the F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law at McGill University. The panel is to look at the 'current rules in Quebec, Canada and the United States with regard to the balance between freedom of expression and the right to one's reputation (...)'. Should the panel conclude that the state of Quebec law does not allow for a proper balance, it is to propose avenues of improvement."
  • Quebec Expert Panel Says Protect People Against Abusive Defamation Suits (July 22, 2007): "It comes out very strongly against the potentially 'abusive' nature of SLAPPs and calls on the provincial government to adopt measures to discourage them as they 'aim essentially at forcing these individuals or these organizations to limit their public activity, or again, to self-censor their declarations by involving them in costly judicial proceedings they can generally not afford. It is basically a form of judicial intimidation' ... The panel suggests 3 possible avenues for government action: anti-SLAPP legislation; amendments to Quebec's Code of Civil Procedure to more strictly control 'abusive' defamation suits; legislation enshrining protection for public participation"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:55 pm 0 comments

Law Reform Commission of Ireland Report on Legal Aspects of Family Relationships

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has published a Report on Legal Aspects of Family Relationships.

Among the specific recommendations made in the Report are:

  • new terms “parental responsibility”, “day-to-day care” and “contact” should replace the terms guardianship, custody and access currently used in the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964. The new terms would give a clearer indication of what is actually involved in this part of family law; and remove any misunderstanding that parental rights involving children exist without corresponding responsibilities. It would also ensure that the terms used in Ireland would be in line with those used in many other States and in international instruments to which Ireland is a party.
  • parental responsibility (guardianship) should be defined in legislation as including the duty to maintain and properly care for a child, the right to apply for a passport for the child and the right to make decisions about where a child will live, a child’s religious and secular education, health requirements and general welfare.
  • day-to-day care (custody) should be defined in legislation as including the ability of the parent, or person in loco parentis, to exercise care and control over a child on a day-to-day basis, to protect and to supervise the child.
  • contact (access) should be defined in legislation as including the right of the child to maintain personal relations and contact with the parent or other qualifying person on a regular basis, subject to the proviso that contact must be in the best interests of the child.
  • mothers and fathers (including non-marital fathers) should have automatic joint parental responsibility (guardianship) for their children.
  • there should be automatic joint registration of both parents on a birth certificate (intended to reinforce the right of a child to know their parents).
  • legislation should facilitate the extension of parental responsibility to civil partners and step-parents. The Commission recommends that civil partners and step-parents could obtain parental responsibility by way of an agreement with the other parties who have parental responsibility for the child or by application to court.
  • where parental responsibility is extended by court order the court shall have regard to, among other factors, the wishes and best interests of the child and the views of other parties with parental responsibility.
  • the ability to apply for day-to-day care (custody) should be extended to relatives of a child, persons in loco parentis and persons with a bona fide interest in the child in circumstances where the parents are unable or unwilling to exercise parental responsibility.
A copy of the full report can be downloaded from the Commission website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:48 pm 0 comments

Interview With Legal Reference Specialist 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.

Today, the eighth interview in the series appeared. It is with Debora Keysor, Legal Reference Specialist:
"What is the most interesting fact you’ve learned about the Law Library of Congress?: The sheer volume of government documents that are received and maintained in the Law Library, including, but not limited to, more than 5,000 U.S. Supreme Court Records and Briefs each term and, more than 10,000 congressional bills and resolutions each year. In addition, the Law Library of Congress has worked on a hearings pilot project to digitize congressional committee hearings from the Library of Congress collection, which includes over 75,000 volumes of printed hearings. The project’s ultimate goal is to provide free permanent public access to this valuable collection of federal legislative documents. To this end, I was intensely involved in the hearings pilot project to compile three collections: census, privacy, and immigration."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:43 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Offers Guidelines on Twitter in the Courtroom

England's top judge, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge (that is his name), has offered some Interim practice guidance on the use of Twitter in English courtrooms. There is to be a consultation on courtroom use of "live, text-based communications" very soon.

Photographic and sound recording of court proceedings still remain prohibited.

Excerpts from the guidance document:
"10. There is no statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based communications in open court. But before such use is permitted, the court must be satisfied that its use does not pose a danger of interference to the proper administration of justice in the individual case. "

"11. Subject to this consideration, the use of an unobtrusive, hand held, virtually silent piece of modern equipment for the purposes of simultaneous reporting of proceedings to the outside world as they unfold in court is generally unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice."

"12. The normal, indeed almost invariable, rule has been that mobile phones must be turned off in court. An application, whether formally or informally made (for instance by communicating a request to the judge through court staff) can be made by an individual in court to activate and use a mobile phone, small laptop or similar piece of equipment, solely in order to make live text-based communications of the proceedings."

"13. When considering, either on its own motion, or following a formal application or informal request, whether to permit live text-based communications, and if so by whom, the paramount question will be whether the application may interfere with the proper administration of Justice. The most obvious purpose of permitting the use of live, text-based communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate reports of the proceedings."

"14. Without being exhaustive, the danger to the administration of justice is likely to be at its most acute in the context of criminal trials e.g., where witnesses who are out of court may be informed of what has already happened in court and so coached or briefed before they then give evidence, or where information posted on, for instance, Twitter about inadmissible evidence may influence members of a jury. However, the danger is not confined to criminal proceedings; in civil and sometimes family proceedings, simultaneous reporting from the courtroom may create pressure on witnesses, distracting or worrying them. "

"15. Two further considerations are material:
a. if, having given permission for such use, the court proceedings are adversely affected, permission may be withdrawn; and,
b. it may be necessary for the judge to limit live, text-based communications to representatives of the media for journalistic purposes but to disallow its use by the wider public in court. That may arise if it is necessary, for example, to limit the number of mobile electronic devices in use at any given time because of the potential for electronic interference with the court’s own sound recording equipment, or because the widespread use of such devices in court may cause a distraction in the proceedings."
Coverage of the new interim rules:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:26 pm 0 comments

Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia Paper on Seniors-Only Housing

The Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia has published a discussion paper on Seniors-only Housing:
"This discussion paper considers whether to amend the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act to provide an exemption for seniors-only housing. Under such an exemption, a housing development (nursing home, assisted living facility, mobile home park, public housing, condominium project, subdivision, etc.) which restricted residence to seniors would be immune from a complaint of age discrimination under the Act. Such an exemption has been adopted in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador. In Nova Scotia, a private members bill along similar lines was introduced in 2006, but did not pass. The question of whether to introduce such an exemption into the Nova Scotia Act has now been referred to the Commission by the Attorney-General."

"This paper first discusses the potential scope of ‘seniors only housing’ developments, and outlines the current situation in Nova Scotia. It then identifies the problem of age discrimination under the Human Rights Act, and outlines the legislative provisions that some other provinces have adopted to avoid that problem."

"A number of social policy issues are raised by the question of introducing an express amendment into the Human Rights Act. The paper proposes a framework for examining those issues."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:18 pm 0 comments

Monday, December 20, 2010

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of December 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 6:39 pm 0 comments

European Court of Human Rights Adds New Thematic Factsheets

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of September 30, 2010 entitled European Court of Human Rights Factsheets.

Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg published a series of Factsheets that describe important jurisprudence of the institution on a number of subjects.

To mark Human Rights Day, on December 10, the Court added 10 new factsheets.

The new topics covered are children’s rights, collective expulsions, conscientious objection, protection of journalists’ sources, racial discrimination, right to one’s own image, social welfare, trade union rights, transsexuals’ rights, and violence against women.

The ECHR hears complaints from individuals living in any of the member states of the Council of Europe about violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Council of Europe is one of the continent's oldest political organizations, founded in 1949. It has 47 member countries.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:30 pm 0 comments

Australian Law Reform Commission Broadens Outreach Through Podcasts

Just discovered this the other day: the Australian Law Reform Commission very recently started producing podcasts.

The most recent one was Dec. 17 and dealt with indigenous issues and the Commission's family violence inquiry.

As the Commission explained on Nov. 3, 2010 in a conference presentation called Opening Up the Conversation | Gov 2.0 Conference, it has been modernizing the tools it uses to reach out to the wider community:

"First we would consult and then produce an Issues Paper, and call for submissions from stakeholders, then we would produce a Discussion paper, consult more and call for further submissions and then finally after more consultation, we would produce final Report with recommendations for reform."

"This was time intensive process for us and for our stakeholders, and it was also pretty expensive to produce and distribute all these different printed documents. While the process definitely encouraged a two way conversation, we ask a question and you give us your opinion, what it didn’t encourage was a more dynamic backward and forwards dialogue, and it was a very formal process."

"The online tools that we have adopted just in this past year, have started to subvert this three stage process and have allowed us to replace some of the steps and to encourage stakeholders to interact with the ALRC in a more fluid and dynamic way....getting involved at an earlier stage in the process and being able to engage in a more flexible, informal and interactive manner."

"The tools that Marie Claire [Marie-Claire Muir, the Commission Web Manager] is going to go through briefly – our e-newsletters, blogs, closed social networks and Twitter - encourage a more immediate and dynamic conversation. They have also opened up the ALRC’s own processes more to the public, so that our inquiry work and the thinking that goes into our the development of our recommendations, is more transparent (...)"

"The ALRC will shortly release its first podcast – about its recommendations in the Family Violence Inquiry Final Report, which we hope will make the report more accessible to the inquiry’s broad range of stakeholders, and we’ll do this via a phonecasting service called Ipadio. This freemium service allows you to record and distribute a phonecast with nothing more complicated that a handset. But what we’re really excited about it the opportunity this service has for use in future inquiries as a means for stakeholders to simply phone in comments or submissions, using their telephone, a freecall number, and a password we provide to them. The software not only creates the podcast, which you can make available to the general public or keep private, but will create an editable transcription using voice to text software."

"This potentially provides an easier way for some groups of stakeholders – youth, or people with poor literacy levels, for example - to contribute – groups that might typically not be comfortable, or able, to write long formal submissions."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:13 pm 0 comments

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do We Really Need Web 2.0 in Subject Guides?

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 16, 2010 entitled Death of Delicious Social Bookmarking Site?

In that post, I mentioned that many libraries have turned to social media tools to develop lists of recommended resources and create research guides.

The most recent issue of the journal Evidence Based Library and Information Practice features the article Letting Students Take the Lead: A User-Centred Approach to Evaluating Subject Guides authored by a number of University of British Columbia librarians:
"What do students need and want from library subject guides? Options such as Web 2.0 enhancement are now available to librarians creating subject-specific web pages. Librarians may be eager to implement these new tools, but are such add-ons a priority for students? This paper aims to start a dialogue on this issue by presenting the findings of the University of British Columbia (UBC) Library’s Subject Guides Working Group (SGWG), which was tasked with assessing current library subject guides in order to make recommendations for the update and future development of UBC Library subject guides (...)"

"Respondents to the student questionnaire indicated that a simple and clean layout was of primary importance. Students also desired succinct annotations to resources and limited page scrolling. Meanwhile, few students identified Web 2.0 features such as rating systems and discussion forums as being important for their needs (...)"

"For the SGWG these findings called into question the necessity of Web 2.0 technologies within subject guide pages and highlighted the need for further research on the topic of subject guide usability and effectiveness."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:27 pm 0 comments

Updated GlobaLex Research Guides

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:55 pm 0 comments

British Columbia Law Institute Contract Law Reform Proposal

The British Columbia law Institute has released a Consultation Paper on Proposals for Unfair Contracts Relief.

The document presents 46 proposals to modernize how the law of contracts deals with unfairness. It proposes clarifications to the tests for unconscionability, duress, and undue influence and would establish an implied duty of good faith in the performance of contracts. It also proposes reforms aimed at modernizing the scope of and remedies available for misrepresentation.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:44 pm 0 comments

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Complains of "Impenetrable Legislation"

England's top judge, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge (that's a great name!) has complained that "impenetrable" criminal justice legislation is causing major delays in British trials.

The remarks are contained in the most recent annual report of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division.

In his introduction, Lord Judge writes:
"It has been another year of unremitting commitment to the administration of criminal justice. That is as it should be. What remains less tolerable is the continuing burden of comprehending and applying impenetrable legislation, primarily but not exclusively in relation to sentencing. The search for the legislative intention in the context of criminal justice legislation makes unreasonable demands on the intellectual efforts of judges and lawyers. It all takes time, very much more time than it took even a decade ago, to grapple with the diffculties. The diffculties are not confned to the workings of this Court: they apply to every Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court throughout the jurisdiction. The search for principle takes longer and longer, and in the meantime cases awaiting trial are delayed, to the disadvantage of the defendants awaiting trial, the witnesses to the events which bring the defendants to court, and the victims of those alleged crimes."
It is fascinating to see the different ways the British press covers this sort of normally dry annual report. Here are a few examples:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:23 pm 0 comments

Death of Delicious Social Bookmarking Site?

Delicious, the popular social bookmarking service owned by Yahoo! that allows users to store, annotate and share bookmarks, may be shutting down, according to various web sources.

ResourceShelf is not so sure.

Many libraries have been turning to web 2.0 tools such as Delicious:
  • MIT Updates Virtual Reference Pages Using Social Bookmarking (July 9, 2007): "The library at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is using the social bookmarking site to keep its virtual reference web pages up to date (...) What is interesting is that MIT uses an RSS feed to send the links from the account to its virtual reference collection, making maintenance a much easier task."
  • Use of Social Tagging in Libraries Spreading (September 17, 2007): "The article Tags Help Make Libraries in the online version of Library Journal describes how more and more libraries are turning to social bookmarking tools such as to organize information about recommended resources and replace the traditional subject guide."
  • More News From Federal Library Web 2.0 Interest Group (September 16, 2008): "In the summer, federal government librarians in Canada created a Web 2.0 Interest Group (WIG) to explore ways of incorporating collaborative technologies into their work (...) It was a great opportunity to see what work has been done on the Web 2.0 front. Here are a few of the projects mentioned at the roundtable that opened the meeting: ... The Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information has launched a CISTI Facebook group, a wiki for posting known problems about its online services, and has created dozens of subject guides using social bookmarks ... The Communications Security Establishment, Canada's electronic intelligence agency, uses wikis, mashups and social bookmarking ... Natural Resources Canada uses screencasting, wikis, blogs, and and is about to move to an open source library management/cataloguing system that offers social tagging of content by users ... the Public Service Commission will launch a blog pilot and wiki this fall and its library has started a account ... the Canadian Agriculture Library has set up a Web 2.0 team. Their pathfinder/research guide project is heavily based on bookmarks"
  • New and Improved Subject Guides (January 1, 2009): "The most recent issue of Partnership, a Canadian library science journal, features 2 articles on subject guides: Subject Guides: Maintaining Subject Guides Using a Social Bookmarking Site by Edward M. Corrado: 'By using Web 2.0 social bookmarking sites, libraries can more easily manage subject guides and other lists of Web resources (...) This paper describes and analyses the use of social bookmarking at a medium-sized, comprehensive college library for the creation and maintenance of modern languages subject guides. A brief technical description outlining necessary JavaScript code provides a way for librarians to try this idea elsewhere'. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:01 pm 1 comments

How Is Social Media Changing Your Profession?

The 3 Geeks and A Law Blog today published a post entitled Elephant Post: How Is Social Media Changing Your Profession… Or, How Should It Be Changing Your Profession?:
"We're big fans of social media here at 3 Geeks… blogging, twittering, LinkedIn'ing… all of that. Whether it is making connections, finding information on obscure topics, or keeping up with the latest rumors, social media is one of the best communications tools available today. Let us know how it has helped you in your profession, or how you think it will help someday in the future."

"Here are some perspectives from law librarians, marketing analysts, knowledge management, marketing, coaching, and information technology. Enjoy!"


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:45 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ontario Court of Appeal Recognizes Right of Access to Court Exhibits

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly discusses the November 1, 2010 Ontario Court of Appeal decision R. v. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recognizing the media’s constitutional right to access court exhibits.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had been seeking access to the exhibits from the preliminary inquiry into the death of 19-year-old Ashley Smith, who died while under observation in an isolation cell.

The network requested access to all photographs, documents and audio and video recordings filed at the preliminary inquiry, not only those filed in open court.

"The court [of appeal] reaffirmed the importance of the open court principle, that public access to the courts is a fundamental aspect of s. 2(b) of the Charter. The Court of Appeal also confirmed that, absent the proof of some countervailing interest sufficient to satisfy the Dagenais/Mentuck test, the right to access exhibits includes access to everything filed with the court — not just what is played or read out in open court — and includes the right to make copies."

"The Court of Appeal also held that the Superior Court erred in not allowing the CBC to copy the portion of the video exhibit showing the actual circumstances of Ashley Smith’s death. There was nothing in the law that permitted a judge to impose his or her opinion about what does not need to be broadcast to the general public, and there was no potential harm or injury to a recognized legal interest."

Under the The Dagenais / Mentuck test, the party opposing media access must demonstrate the publication ban is necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk to the fairness of a trial and that the salutary effects of the publication ban outweigh the deleterious effects to free expression.

The full text of the Court of Appeal decision is available on the Court website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:45 pm 0 comments

Interview With Senior Foreign Law Specialist 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.

Today, the seventh interview in the series appeared. It is with Edith Palmer, Senior Foreign Law Specialist:
"I find it amazing how the Law Library adapts to the needs of its patrons while remaining true to its custodial mission. I never cease to wonder about the foresight that the founders of the Law Library showed, a hundred and fifty years ago, in collecting the laws, treatises, and court decisions from around the globe. Currently, the Law Library is in the process of expanding on this global mission with information available through various web-based services."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:38 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Permission No Longer Required to Reproduce Government of Canada Works

Simon Fodden at reports on a recent change to Crown Copyright in the Canadian federal sector.

Since 1998, permission was not required to reproduce federal statutes or decisions by federally-constituted courts and administrative tribunals.

Now the federal government has announced that permission to "reproduce Government of Canada works is no longer required, in part or in whole, and by any means, for personal or public non-commercial purposes, or for cost-recovery purposes, unless otherwise specified in the material you wish to reproduce."

For discussions of Crown Copyright:
  • Crown Copyright and Licensing : official Canadian government website
  • The Impact of Crown Copyright on Access to Law-Related Information (chapter from a 2005 Master of Law thesis on Access To Law-Related Information In Canada In The Digital Age by contributor Ted Tjaden)
  • Enabling Access and Reuse of Public Sector Information in Canada: Crown Commons Licenses, Copyright, and Public Sector Information (chapter by Elizabeth F. Judge in From "Radical Extremism" to "Balanced Copyright": Canadian Copyright and the Digital Agenda, Irwin Law, Toronto, 2010): "This article examines public sector information and analyzes developments in Canada and other jurisdictions to promote its public access and reuse. It discusses the extent to which public sector information has been integrated into copyright reform efforts and, where public sector information is copyright protected, it discusses the mechanisms available within the copyright framework to facilitate public access and reuse of public sector information, focusing in particular on licensing. In Canada, Crown copyright restrictions and complicated licensing limit access to public sector information. The article recommends that Canada establish a centralized portal for open government data ( and implement Crown Commons licenses, which together would advance the objective of open government data by ensuring that public sector information is accessible online in usable formats, easily found, and not encumbered by restrictive Crown copyright licensing conditions."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:13 pm 0 comments

Monday, December 13, 2010

Mergers and Acquisitions in Legal Publishing

Today on, Gary P. Rodrigues has posted an article entiled More Speculation on Mergers and Acquisitions in Legal Publishing:

"Acquisitions and mergers are expected to continue as the major legal publishers explore ways to increase their profitability, achieve growth and increase market share. When organic growth fails to achieve corporate expectations, acquisitions and mergers are the next best thing."

"The acquisition of Canada Law Book by Carswell Thomson is simply the most recent acquisition of note in the Canadian market (...) "

"Speculation continues in legal publishing circles in the United Kingdom and elsewhere regarding more mergers and acquisitions. Two of them could have a significant impact in Canada if they materialized. The first was a merger of Lexis Nexis and Wolters Kluwer and the second was the acquisition of The Practical Law Company by Thomson Reuters."
My personal guess: we will all be owned by FaceGoogleZon one day.


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:39 pm 0 comments

Saturday, December 11, 2010

World Map of Social Networks

Italian researcher Vincenzo Cosenza has published a map showing the dominant social media networks in the world. No surprise: the facebook empire is spreading:
"Since June 2010 Facebook has stolen new important nations from local, previously strong, competitors (in 115 out of 132 countries analyzed it is market leader) especially in Europe (...)"

"If we take a look over Facebook’s shoulders we can see the rise of Twitter especially against MySpace (in Australia, Canada, Germany and Italy) and the slow but constant growth of LinkedIn (in Australia, Canada, UK)."
[Source: ResourceShelf]


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:13 pm 0 comments

United Nations Proposes Model Law Against Human Smuggling

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 1, 2010 entitled Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Proposed Human Smuggling Law.

The federal government's proposal to crack down on human trafficking has been heavily criticized by the opposition parties. For example, see the Dec. 1 Globe and Mail article Liberals vow to block Harper immigration bill.

In the midst of all this, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has released a new publication on a Model Law Against the Smuggling of Migrants. The document was prepared  in response to a request by  the UN General Assembly  to  the Secretary-General  to  promote  and  assist  the efforts of Member States to become party to and implement the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto. It was developed  in particular  to assist States  in  implementing  the provisions contained  in  the  Protocol  against  the  Smuggling  of Migrants  by  Land,  Sea and Air,  supplementing  the Convention. 

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:01 pm 0 comments

Friday, December 10, 2010

Global Corruption Barometer 2010

The international NGO Transparency International recently published its Global Corruption Barometer 2010, an annual worldwide public opinion survey on corruption.

The organization surveyed more than 91,000 people in 86 countries and territories. It focuses on petty bribery, perceptions of public institutions and views of whom people trust to combat corruption.

The survey was conducted between 1 June 2010 and 30 September 2010. Gallup International Association conducted the survey in 84 countries. In Bangladesh the survey was conducted by Transparency International Bangladesh and in Mongolia by the Independent Authority against Corruption of Mongolia.

Among the highlights:
  • in the past 12 months one in four people paid a bribe to one of nine institutions and services, from health to education to tax authorities
  • Sub-Saharan Africans report paying the most bribes: more than one in two people report
    paying a bribe in the past 12 months. This compares to 36 per cent of people surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa, 23 per cent in Latin America, 19 per cent in the Western Balkans and Turkey, 11 per cent in Asia Pacific and just 5 per cent in European Union countries and North America
  • More than 20 countries report significantly more petty bribery than in 2006, when the same question was asked in the Barometer. The biggest number of reported bribery payments in 2010 is in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cameroon, India, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Palestine, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda where more than 50 per cent of people surveyed paid a bribe in the past 12 months
  • lower income earners report paying more bribes than higher income earners. Poorer
    people are twice as likely to pay bribes for basic services, such as utilities, medical services
    and education
A copy of the full report is available on the Transparency International website.

Earlier Library Boy posts on corruption include:
  • Global Corruption Report 2006 (February 4, 2006): "Transparency International, an international non-governmental organization dedicated to combating corruption across the world, has just released its Global Corruption Report 2006. The major focus of this year's report is the impact of corruption in the healthcare sector in developing countries."
  • 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index (November 8, 2006): "The international NGO Transparency International just released its 2006 Corruption Perceptions Index, 'a composite index that draws on multiple expert opinion surveys that poll perceptions of public sector corruption in 163 countries around the world (...) It scores countries on a scale from zero to ten, with zero indicating high levels of perceived corruption and ten indicating low levels of perceived corruption'."
  • International Report on Judicial Corruption (June 8, 2007): "The international organization Transparency International recently released its Global Corruption Report 2007. This year's report takes a close look at judicial corruption around the world. Judicial corruption can involve outright bribery or political interference in the judicial process (...) 'TI’s latest global survey of attitudes towards corruption reveals that in more than twenty-five countries, at least one in ten households had to pay a bribe to get access to justice. In a further twenty countries, more than three in ten households reported that bribery was involved in securing access to justice or a 'fair' outcome in court. In Albania, Greece, Indonesia, Mexico, Moldova, Morocco, Peru, Taiwan and Venezuela, the figure was even higher'."
  • Global Corruption Barometer 2007 Reveals Major Problems Worldwide With Police and Judiciary (December 7, 2007): "In its fifth edition, the Global Corruption Barometer 2007 summarizes citizens’ perceptions and experiences of corruption and bribery in 60 countries around the world (...) 'This report details how bribery affects the courts – judges and other judicial personnel accept bribes to delay or accelerate cases, to allow or deny an appeal, or to decide a case in a certain way. The Global Corruption Report 2007 also includes data from a 2002 survey showing, for instance, that 96 per cent of respondents in Pakistan who had contact with the lower courts encountered corrupt practices, while in Russia, an estimated US $210 million in bribes is thought to be paid in courts each year'. "
  • 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (September 29, 2008): "Last week, the government ethics watchdog group Transparency International released its 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index, a survey of perceptions of public sector corruption in some 180 states (...) The cleanest countries for the 2008 survey were Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand. Canada came in 9th."
  • Global Corruption Report 2009: Corruption and the Private Sector (September 28, 2009): "The massive scale of global corruption resulting from bribery, price-fixing cartels and undue influence on public policy is costing billions and obstructing the path towards sustainable economic growth (...) The report documents many cases of managers, majority shareholders and other actors inside corporations who abuse their entrusted power for personal gain, to the detriment of owners, investors, employees and society at large. In developing and transition countries alone, companies colluding with corrupt politicians and government officials, have supplied bribes estimated at up to US $40 billion annually..."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:38 pm 0 comments

What Surprised You The Most About Your Profession?

3 Geeks and a Law Blog yesterday published Elephant Post: What Surprised You The Most About Your Profession?:
"Whether you are new to your profession, or are about to retire, there were some expectations you had when you came in that turned out to not be as you thought it would be. For example, I thought that working in a Law School as a law librarian would be free of politics… only to quickly realize that politics ran wild. So, I left that to join a court library… only to find out that it was even more political (the fact that I worked for elected officials should have clued me in.) Luckily, I'm now in BigLaw… oh crap…"

"Well, enough of my experiences, let's hear from a number of other that have their own perpectives on what happened when they entered their professions."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:34 pm 0 comments

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Ontario Ombudsman Report on G20 Crackdown First To Use Social Media

Earlier this week, Ontario Ombudsman André Marin released his report into the use of a secret regulation that gave police what he called “extravagant” and “likely illegal” powers to crack down on mostly peaceful people protesting last summer’s G20 summit in Toronto or to arrest other uninvolved, simply curious citizens caught in the vicinity of the security fence around the summit location.

What many people have overlooked is contained in Marin’s brief remarks about the essential contribution of social media in writing the report:
Our report is full of stories from people who encountered this treatment, as well as photos that capture the unforgettable scenes of those two days. For the first time, we used social media in our investigation to ask members of the public to come forward, and to track events as they happened. People responded in droves with their stories, their photos and their videos, including some that have never been made public before today. To my knowledge, this is the first time that any ombudsman investigation has used social media, and I can attest that it has been a very useful tool. I also want to thank all those who came to us with information.
The social media genie is truly out of the bottle.

Marin's press conference can be seen on YouTube.

Today, he released a new statement to the media in which he criticizes people who tried to "downplay the questionable use of Regulation 233/10" (the "secret legislation" referred to above):
"The point is being made that almost all of the arrests that took place were made under the power of the police to arrest persons found “breaching the peace.” It is important when considering this information to understand that while there may have been only two arrests using Regulation 233/10, many people were detained, searched, questioned, and redirected under its authority. That regulation played a huge role in the violations of civil liberties that occurred. Arrests were only a small part of it (...)

"Things change, of course, when extraordinary legislation such as Regulation 233/10 under the Public Works Protection Act is passed. The police gain extensive power over members of the public they would not otherwise have. They gain the power to detain and search anyone entering or approaching a designated area, even if that person changes their mind and offers to walk away. The police need no grounds or no suspicion. They can just do it. And they gain the power to demand answers to questions – even the right to silence disappears. Anyone who fails to remain or submit to a search or to answer questions demanded by the police commits an offence and can be arrested. Laws like this are a civil liberties game changer."

"In the end, when measuring the impact of Regulation 233/10 on civil liberties, it is far too simple to count the number of people arrested. What also has to be counted is the number of people stopped under its authority – so their identification could be produced or because they were wearing black clothing; the number of people questioned under its authority because they were walking in areas rightly or wrongly considered by officers to be protected by the law; the number of people searched under its authority – who open their purses or endure pat-downs; the number of people who have items seized from them under the authority of the statute; and the number of people who were intimidated from walking in public spaces because officers claim the authority to control their movements using this law, including by telling them they are “banned.” Arrests are, of course, the most extreme intrusion that Regulation 233/10 offered. But counting arrests is a glib sound-bite, not a serious response to the impact this legislation had on Ontario’s citizens."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:31 pm 0 comments

Legal Information Institute of India Launched

The formal launch may be planned for next year, but the Legal Information Institute of India is already up and running as the newest addition to the worldwide movement for free Internet access to legal materials.

Right how, it offers access to 50 databases, including 300,000 decisions from 37 Courts and Tribunals, Indian national legislation from 1836, over 800 bilateral treaties, law reform reports and law journal articles.

The Legal Information Institutes (LIIs) from different countries and continents together form the Free Access to Law Movement. The goal of the LIIs is to maximize free access to public legal information such as legislation and case law from as many countries and international institutions as possible. CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute, is a prominent member of the movement.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:18 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

An Interview With Legal Reference Specialist 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.

Today, the sixth interview in the series appeared. It is with Shameema Rahman, Legal Reference Specialist:
"As a Legal Reference Specialist I do a number of things ... answer 'Ask A Librarian' reference inquiries; teach legal research classes both for public and congressional staffs; conduct congressional briefings; answer inquiries on Bangladeshi laws; publish articles in the Global Legal Monitor [international legal news]; work as the curator and the database administrator for the Global Legal Information Catalog; volunteer as a docent of the Library of Congress to provide tours of the Jefferson Building ... I enjoy every piece of my job responsibility. I love my work and I love the place of my work."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:46 pm 0 comments

Top Access to Information and Privacy Cases of 2010

Dan Michaluk has published a post on about Canadian Information and Privacy Cases of the Year:
"It’s early for a year-end list, but I want to leave time for a response before we all boot down for the holidays. Here’s a list of the top Canadian information and privacy cases of the year. Comments are invited."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm 0 comments

Law Commission of Ontario Releases Papers on Disability Issues

The Law Commission of Ontario has released 6 papers commissioned earlier this year that deal with the Law as it Affects Persons with Disabilities.

The research papers are part of the Commission's Persons with Disabilities Project:
"This Project will not focus on reform of any one specific issue; rather, its purpose is to develop a principled analytical framework for this area of the law that can be used as a tool for shaping new legislation that affect persons with disabilities or reforming current law (...)"

"There are several themes that the LCO is interested in exploring in the Project, including:

  • ableism and hidden stereotypes within the law or in the implementation of the law;
  • diversity within the disability community and the implications this has for developing a coherent framework;
  • overlaps, inconsistencies and gaps in laws that affect persons with disabilities;
  • the issues related to eligibility criteria and the role of gatekeepers in making determinations about who is entitled to access programs and services;
  • whether persons with disabilities can effectively access supports necessary to ensure full participation in society; and
  • whether laws affecting the rights of persons with disabilities are effectively implemented and whether enforcement mechanisms are accessible and effective."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:32 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Keeping Canadians Safe (Protecting Borders) Act

The Library of Parliament recently published a Legislative Summary of Bill S-13: Keeping Canadians Safe (Protecting Borders) Act:

"Bill S-13 implements the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, which was signed on 26 May 2009 (...)"

"The agreement makes permanent a joint Canada–US pilot program – referred to as 'Shiprider' – which was created in 2005 to address security concerns along the maritime border. Shiprider enabled armed officers from the United States Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to jointly patrol shared waterways and to continue to easily pursue suspects from one country to the other. Furthermore, it allowed each government to confer upon the other country’s participating law enforcement officers the authority of peace officers in order to facilitate the enforcement of their respective laws across the international border (...)"

"The purpose of the agreement is to provide the parties with additional means in shared waterways to prevent, detect, suppress, investigate and prosecute criminal offences or violations of law, including, but not limited to, illicit drug trade, migrant smuggling, trafficking of firearms, the smuggling of counterfeit goods and money, and terrorism. The Integrated Cross-Border Maritime Law Enforcement operations under the agreement are to be intelligence-driven, based on joint Canada–US threat and risk assessment and coordinated with existing cooperative cross-border policing programs and activities."

"In order for the agreement to be brought into force, both Canada and the United States must complete internal processes after signing the international agreement. In Canada, this requires that implementing legislation be introduced in Parliament and be passed by the House of Commons and the Senate."

It is possible to follow the progress of the bill via the LEGISinfo website. A similar bill was introduced in the previous session of Parliament but it never went past first reading in the House of Commons. This new bill was introduced in the Senate where it is currently in second reading.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:24 pm 0 comments

Live Tweeting from the Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada today held a hearing in the case Crookes v. Newton dealing with online defamation via hyperlinks. And Tweeters were there following along.

As Shaunna Mireau wrote on
"Live tweeting can be followed by searching for #Crookes on Twitter."

"Who would have guessed a couple of years ago that someone could sit in the gallery at the SCC and let the world know what questions the court is asking."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:18 pm 0 comments

Monday, December 06, 2010

How Far Are We From Fully Digital Courts?

Over the weekend, The National Post featured an article on Digitizing the law on the potential of technology to make courts more efficient and open:
"For centuries, little has changed in the way courts conduct trials, said Karim Benyekhlef, a law professor at the Universite de Montreal"

"He pictures a lawyer from the 18th century feeling right at home pleading in most Canadian courtrooms. But as excessive costs and clogged courts make it harder for people to access justice, pressure is growing to tap into the potential of technology to transform the courtroom."

"The Universite de Montreal last week inaugurated a $6-million cyber-justice laboratory, directed by Mr. Benyekhlef, to examine how technology can improve the administration of justice."

"The provincial and federal governments funded the fully wired model courtroom. Researchers plan to stage trials in which electronic document filing will replace the mountains of paper usually generated and witnesses will be able to testify via video. They will even experiment with holographic technology to project a three-dimensional image of a remote witness into the courtroom. The biggest obstacle to moving the courtroom into the 21st century is not the technology but the legal profession's aversion to change."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:30 pm 0 comments

Sunday, December 05, 2010

New Search Engine For Wikileaks State Department Cables

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of December 2, 2010 entitled For Wikileaks Geeks: How to Decipher a State Department Cable.

The Vereniging van Onderzoeksjournalisten (Dutch-Flemish Association of Investigative Journalists) has launched CableSearch, a tool that allows users to search the full text of the confidential American diplomatic cables being released by the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks.

Users can also browse cables using the following categories:

+ Zeitgeist (Real-Time Look at What Others Are Searching For)
+ New Cables
+ Most Popular
+ By Source
+ By Classification
+ By Urgency
+ By Tag
+ By Date

[Source: ResourceShelf]

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:10 pm 0 comments

Nominations Open for 2010 CLawBies

It is time for nominations for the 2010 Canadian Law Blog Awards, also known as CLawBies:

"How to Nominate in 2010:

This year’s nominations deadline is Tuesday, December 28th, and the methods remain the same as in previous years. Publicly nominate a Canadian-authored law blog using ANY of the following:

  1. Tweet your endorsement on with the hashtag text: #clawbies2010. We’ll be monitoring!
  2. Email your favourite blog, including a couple sample posts or any other notable highlights, to Steve Matthews at We’d prefer a public nomination, but this is still acceptable.
  3. Write a blog post about three other Canadian law blogs you currently read, and tell us why those blogs were important in 2010. Our usual rules apply: you must be a humble Canadian and tell us NOTHING about your own blog. In return, we promise both the nominator’s blog and the nominee blogs will receive a thorough review. Plus, you get a chance to plug a fellow Canadian blogger!"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:04 pm 0 comments

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Free Online Access to Canadian Court Dockets

Ted Tjaden, National Director of Knowledge Management at McMillan LLP in Toronto, has compiled a list of free online court docket sites in Canada:
"Free online access to Canadian court dockets remains relatively abysmal in Canada, with there being spotty coverage, depending on jurisdiction, unlike in the United States where there are fairly exhaustive subscription (fee) services such as LexisNexis CourtLink and Pacer."

"In Canada, the following chart provides links for those jurisdictions that provide online access to court dockets. For those jurisdictions that do not provide online access, I have provided a link to the registry office to allow users to contact those registries for more information."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:04 pm 0 comments

Five (5) Tips for Dealing with Difficult Patrons on the Web

Webjunction, a website run by the international library organization OCLC, has posted a video entitled 5 Tips for Dealing with Difficult Patrons on the Web.

It features David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services manager at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library in the United States.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 12:57 pm 0 comments

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Law Reform Commission of Ireland Report on Inchoate Offences Like Incitement and Conspiracy

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has published a Report on Inchoate Offences:

"Incitement, conspiracy and attempt are called 'inchoate offences' because they criminalise conduct which may be described as working towards the commission of a particular offence. For example, the complete offence of murder requires the wrongful killing of a human being; whereas the offence of attempted murder caters for cases where the accused tries, but fails, to kill the victim. Similarly, the offences of conspiracy to murder and incitement to murder provide for cases where the accused has made an agreement to kill (conspiracy), or has sought to persuade someone else to kill (incitement)."

"The thinking behind these offences is that people who take significant steps towards the commission of the full offence are often no less dangerous – and just as blameworthy – as those who succeed in carrying out the full offence. For example, a person who attempts to murder may have failed because the gun didn’t fire. The inchoate offences also reinforce a key function of the criminal law: the protection of society. In practice, prosecutions for incitements, conspiracies and attempts are relatively infrequent compared to prosecutions for the offences to which they relate, but charges such as incitement to murder (usually called solicitation), conspiracy to defraud and attempted robbery remain an important part of the criminal law. [from the press release]"

Among the report's recommendations:
  • only agreements to commit a criminal offence should be criminal conspiracies. At present the crime of conspiracy includes agreements to commit civil as well as criminal wrongs
  • abolition of the vague offences of conspiracy to corrupt public morals, conspiracy to effect a public mischief and conspiracy to outrage public decency
  • the physical aspect of an attempt should be defined as an act which is close to the completion of the target criminal offence and the mental/fault aspect of attempt should be defined as intention that an act constituting a criminal offence be completed. This ensures that the defendant really was trying to commit the target offence
  • incitement should continue to be defined as “encouraging, commanding or requesting” the carrying out of a criminal act with the intention that the act is carried out
  • impossibility should not be a defence. This means that the person who pickpockets an empty pocket (not knowing it is empty) may still be guilty of attempted theft; hiring a hit-man to kill a person who is already dead (but where this is not known to the person hiring the hit-man) is still an incitement to murder

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:49 pm 0 comments

For Wikileaks Geeks: How to Decipher a State Department Cable

The National Security Archive, based at George Washington University, has provided a guide explaining How to Decipher a State Department Cable:
"This guide ... might come in handy as you peruse the 251,287 Department of State cables recently released by wikileaks (...)"

"At the Archive, we have lots of practice reading declassified government documents. Since we will be using this space to share with you some documents from our trove of government releases, we thought it would be useful to give you some tips on what to look for in these documents. Several of our experienced analysts have created a series of 'cheat sheets' for different types of agency records."
The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act in the USA. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States.

The Archive has won lawsuits to bring into the public domain confidential materials on the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iran-Contra Affair and other historical controversies.

It receives funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Open Society Institute.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:14 pm 0 comments

World e-Parliament Report 2010 Predicts More e-Petitions and e-Consultations on Bills

The United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union have released the World e-Parliament Report 2010:
"The Report presents the latest data on the use and availability of systems, applications, hardware, and other tools in parliaments around the world, based on the global survey conducted by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament in 2009. A questionnaire was sent to 264 chambers of unicameral and bicameral parliaments in 188 countries and to two regional parliaments. 134 responses were received (...)"

"The Report highlights two critical issues - communication with citizens and the demand for transparency (...) Findings regarding how parliaments are doing in communicating with the public suggest there has been some improvement since 2007 and that a greater number of parliaments and members are trying to use these technologies more effectively to engage with citizens. 85% of parliaments reported an increase in communication from citizens using ICT-supported methods. It is likely that audio- and video-based unidirectional methods will be predominant for the next few years. Webcasting, for example, is one of those most frequently used, and it is projected to increase over the next several years. However, the top fve methods that are predicted to have the highest growth rates are all interactive (online discussions, online polls, e-petitions, e-consultations on issues and e-consultations on bills). "

"E-parliament builds on the pillars of active engagement, a clear vision, strategic planning, broad-based management, and adequate resources. However, many parliaments lack some of these important elements. Only 43% have a written vision statement, over 40% do not have a strategic plan that is regularly updated, and almost one quarter report that their political leaders at the level of the President/Speaker were engaged very little or not at all. Parliaments must make a strong political commitment to transform their aspirations for increased transparency and accountability into a manageable policy framework for ICT across the whole institution."
This is the second World e-Parliament Report. The first was published in 2008.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:55 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Library of Parliament Legislative Summary of Proposed Human Smuggling Law

The Library of Parliament recently published a legislative summary of Bill C-49: An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Balanced Refugee Reform Act and the Marine Transportation Security Act:
"Specifically, the bill:
  • creates the new category of 'designated foreign national' for members of a group which has been designated by the Minister as an 'irregular arrival' to Canada with the resultant creation of a new detention regime; mandatory conditions on release from detention; restrictions on the issuance of refugee travel documents; and bars on certain immigration applications, applicable only to 'designated foreign nationals';
  • restricts the ability to appeal certain decisions to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), and adds to the powers of officers detaining persons upon entry to Canada for suspected criminality;
  • amends the definition of what constitutes 'human smuggling' under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), introduces new mandatory minimum sentences for human smuggling, and adds new aggravating factors to be considered by the court when determining the penalties for the offences of 'trafficking in persons' and 'disembarking persons at sea'; and
  • amends the Marine Transportation Security Act (MTSA) to increase the penalties for individuals and corporations who contravene existing laws, and creates new penalties to be imposed specifically on vessels involved in contraventions of the MTSA..."
"Irregular migration, which occurs when people enter or reside in a country without having received legal authorization from the host state to do so, is a hotly debated international migration topic, as 'irregular migration poses very real dilemmas for states as well as exposing migrants themselves to insecurity and vulnerability'. "

"There have been some recent high-profile cases where a large number of persons have arrived in Canada by boat to claim refugee status, such as those arriving on the Ocean Lady in October 2009, and on the Sun Sea in August 2010."

"These events highlighted a growing trend of individuals paying large sums of money to human smugglers to assist the migrants in gaining entry into Canada."

"A key objective of Bill C-49 is to deter large-scale events of irregular migration to Canada, particularly where these involve human smuggling."

It is possible to follow the progress of the Bill on the LEGISinfo site. The legislation is currently in front of the House of Commons.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:43 pm 0 comments