Thursday, July 22, 2021

Updated Globalex Research Guides on Foreign and International Law Topics

GlobaLex, a very good electronic collection created by the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law, has updated a number of its research guides:

  • Understanding European Union Legal Materials: "The EU has a population of approximately 508 million people comprising 27 European nations, and the EU gross domestic product has a value of nearly U.S. $19.5 trillion. The EU is a major trading bloc and increasingly takes a more prominent role in international trade and international affairs generally. Even the law library that does not consider international law a strength of its collection will occasionally have to meet the needs of patrons seeking to locate information on EU law. The European Union is a supranational organization whose 27 members include most countries of Europe. Each member nation is referred to as a Member State. The current 27 Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden."
  • International Criminal Courts for the Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone – Online and Print Resources: "Despite vows of “never again” in the aftermath of the Holocaust, late twentieth century history was marked by a series of brutal conflicts that resulted in war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and other serious crimes. Several international tribunals were established with the goal of prosecuting individuals who committed these crimes. This guide focuses on online and print sources relating to the following three international criminal courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). The guide begins with a chart comparing key features of these three courts. The guide then examines each court individually, as well as the Mechanism for the International Criminal Tribunals, providing an overview of the court, the court’s basic documents, case law sources, and a listing of additional print and online sources for that individual court. A list of online and print resources that deal with multiple international criminal tribunals follows. Next, there is an overview of selected topics. Finally, the last section covers educational resources, other research guides, and bibliographies."

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

English Law Commission Report on Protecting Victims from Online Abuse

 The Law Commission of England and Wales has published its final report on Modernising Communications Offences.

According to a summary on the Commission website:

"The laws that govern online abusive behaviour are not working as well as they should. The existing offences are ineffective at criminalising genuinely harmful behaviour and in some instances disproportionately interfere with freedom of expression."

"Reliance on vague terms like 'grossly offensive' and 'indecent' sets the threshold for criminality too low and potentially criminalises some forms of free expression that ought to be protected. For example, consensual sexting between adults could be 'indecent', but is not worthy of criminalisation."

"Other behaviours such as taking part in pile-on harassment, which can be genuinely harmful and distressing are not adequately criminalised. Additionally, the law does not effectively deal with behaviours such as cyberflashing and encouraging serious self-harm."

"The result is that the law as it currently stands over-criminalises in some situations and under-criminalises in others. This is what the Commission’s recommendations aim to correct."

"The Commission is recommending a new offence based on likely psychological harm. This will shift the focus away from the content of a communication (and whether it is indecent or grossly offensive) toward its potentially significant harmful effects. "

In November 2018, the Commission had issued a scoping report which, among other things, examined laws governing abusive and offensive communication in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Crowdsourcing COVID-19: A Brief Analysis of Librarian Posts on Reddit

The Chandos Digital Information Review recently published a book chapter (free, open access) entitled Crowdsourcing COVID-19: A Brief Analysis of Librarian Posts on Reddit by Daniella Smith of the University of North Texas:
"Initially, COVID-19 was mistaken for a cold. As time passed, the entire world was infected. It became evident that social distancing was needed to counteract the virus’s spread when the infection rate increased. Although social distancing was a viable option for many professions, it impeded the services offered by libraries. Libraries are cultural institutions that facilitate the social and educational health of their communities. Many citizens rely on libraries to obtain resources critical to their well-being. As such, libraries continued to offer their much-needed services, and librarians worldwide sought to implement the best-known practices to survive the COVID-19 disaster. This study explores how librarians responded to COVID-19 by examining their posts to the Reddit social media network. Popular discussion topics, questions posed by librarians, and the strategies used to cope with the pandemic are presented."
It is part of a book called Libraries, Digital Information, and COVID by Chandos Publishing.


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Thursday, July 15, 2021

July 2021 Issue of In Session E-Bulletin of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries

The July 2021 issue of In Session is available online. 

It is the monthly e-newsletter of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) and contains news from CALL committees and special interest groups, member updates and events.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

List of Fastcase 50 Legal Innovators for 2021

Fastcase, an American-based provider of electronic versions of U.S. primary law (cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and constitutions), has unveiled its list of Fastcase 50 winners for the year 2021:

"Created in 2011, each year the Fastcase 50 award honors a diverse group of lawyers, legal technologists, policymakers, judges, law librarians, bar association executives, and people from all walks of life. In many cases, honorees are well known, but in many others, the award recognizes people who have made important, but unheralded contributions."

" 'The past year has presented challenges that provided opportunities to advance the law, and even accelerated some innovations into the mainstream,' said Fastcase CEO Ed Walters. 'We celebrate the diligence, discipline, passion, and creativity of these Fastcase 50 honorees. We are as proud as ever to spotlight the eleventh class of the Fastcase 50, highlighting now 550 people who have inspired our profession, since our first class in 2011'."

There are a number of law librarians in the list. 

In 2020, Kim Nayyer, current President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, was named to the list.

Michael Mills, one of the Fastcase 50 in 2012, wrote in 2015 on LinkedIn about how the winners of the previous 5 years had begun to form an ecosystem of innovation:

“They champion transparency—in lawyer/client relations, in government data, policy, and practice, in judicial proceedings, and in legal education. They advocate for access—to the law itself, and to justice. They build structures, systems, and tools for access, quality, economy, and efficiency.”

They also collaborate. A tour of the five classes found time and again 50’s who are working together across organizations and projects, who influence and inspire one another.” [my emphasis]

Using his company as an example, Mills writes that “from any one person among the Fastcase 250, there are lines linking in many directions to many others.”

That has only become truer with time.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:31 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

New Report on The Government Information Landscape and Libraries

 IFLA, the International Federation Of Library Associations, recently published a report on The Government Information Landscape and Libraries that offers a number case studies on the challenges faced by government information specialists:

"This report provides a summary of the government information landscape for selected countries and regions worldwide—the United Kingdom, Canada, Greece, the Russian Federation, Korea, the United States, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa. It also includes an overview of information from International Governmental Organizations and a special postscript on cybersecurity. For each country or region, information is provided about government publishing practices, depositories, the legislature, access to information, government libraries, preservation practices, and digitization. Many think that it is easy to find government information. This publication makes the point that it is not easy to do so, and many complexities and challenges exist for users worldwide. Government information professionals are needed to assist users in finding the information they need and to advocate for more access for all."

There is a chapter on The Government Information Landscape in Canada by Susan Paterson, University of British Columbia Library.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

Podcast on Law Librarians and their Role in Access to Justice

The most recent episode on Legal Skies, a podcast produced by the Law Society of Saskatchewan, is about Law Librarians and their Role in Access to Justice.

It features three people I have the privilege of meeting and working with via my professional association:

"We discuss the important role information professionals (i.e. law librarians) play in the justice system and how they are helping expand public access to legal information. Our guests are Alan Kilpatrick, Co-Director of Legal Resources at the Law Society of Saskatchewan, Shaunna Mireau, Past-President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries, and Kim Nayyer, Associate Dean of the Cornell Law School and President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries."

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Thursday, July 08, 2021

American Library Association Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scorecard

The American Library Association has developed a Scorecard to help organizations evaluate their effectiveness in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion of people of colour:

"The Scorecard is designed to help administrators of information organizations assess their current practices in five core areas to produce actionable data for decision making and enacting a robust and sustainable commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and justice..."

The 5 areas are:

  • Embeddedness of DEI into the Culture and Climate of the Organization
  • Training and Education
  • Recruitment, Hiring, Retention, and Promotion
  • Budget Priorities for DEI
  • Data Practices


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Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Recent Articles on Adapting to COVID-19 in Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research

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Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Library of Parliament Explains Evolution of the Selection Process of the Governor General

Earlier today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of Mary Simon, a well known advocate for Inuit rights and culture and a former ambassador, as the next Governor General of Canada.

The Library of Parliament HillNotes publication provided some interesting background in April on the Evolution of the Selection and Appointment of the Governor General:

"The Governor General is currently appointed by the Crown on the advice of the prime minister. The selection and appointment process has evolved considerably since Confederation."

"Early in Canada’s history, the Canadian executive had little influence on the appointment. As Canada asserted its independence, it gained more influence over the process. In recent years, some prime ministers have relied on advisory groups for advice."

"This HillNote discusses the evolution of the selection and appointment process for Canadian governors general and compares the various advisory groups that have been struck over the years."


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Monday, July 05, 2021

Canadian Association of Law Libraries Webinar on Inclusive Language

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL)  is hosting a webinar on inclusive language this Friday, July 9, 2021 at 2PM Eastern:

"Language has power. It not only describes realities, but language also produces and perpetuates them. This workshop on the use of inclusive language introduces guidelines for using language in ways that do not exclude individuals or groups, does not perpetuate discrimination or stereotypes, and strives for equity. By using inclusive language, we prioritize respect and equity, while embracing the diversity of communities. This workshop is grounded in the several guiding principles: Respect for individuals’ and groups’ language preferences, recognition that terms that may be appropriate for members of a group may be inappropriate when used by non-members, remembering the diversity of experiences within groups, and the willingness to relearn. Since language constantly changes, we must be open to learning new inclusive standards. This workshop will offer tips and discuss inclusivity standards for both academic writing and in face-to-face interactions."

The speaker is Grant Yocom, University of Windsor.

It is free to CALL members and $20 plus tax for non-members.

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Sunday, July 04, 2021

Victoria Law Reform Commission Consultation on Stalking

The Victoria Law Reform Commission (VLRC) is conducting a public consultation on stalking.

It has issued a consultation paper and will be gathering input until August:

"Stalking is a set of behaviours that can cause great harm to victims’ mental and physical health. If not addressed, it can also escalate to include other types of serious offending, more serious offending, including serious violence and—tragically—homicide and suicide."

"Due to technological advancements, types of stalking behaviour have evolved and can be carried out remotely, without physical proximity to the victim."

"The VLRC is asked to review and report on Victoria’s legal responses to stalking, harassment and similar conduct, including the statutory framework for and operation of the Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO) system, drawing upon best practice from the family violence system, criminological research and victim support services. The review should identify barriers to current law effectively responding to stalking, harassment and similar conduct, and make recommendations to address these barriers and improve the justice system’s response, with victim safety and wellbeing the paramount consideration."

"Stalking behaviours can occur in both a family violence and non-family violence context. However, while a specialist, cohesive approach to these behaviours has been developed in a family violence context, less attention has been devoted to the non-family violence response. Additional measures may be required to maximise victim safety and wellbeing and perpetrator accountability, and to allow for more effective early interventions in cases of high or escalating risk. The review may consider mechanisms from the family violence context, such as family violence safety notices and the prohibition on cross-examination by the respondent/accused person. New measures responding to stalking in both family violence and non-family violence contexts should also be considered, such as electronic monitoring as a condition of an intervention order, and responses that address technology-facilitated abuse."

"While stalking is committed by people of all genders, the VLRC is requested to note that most perpetrators of stalking are men, and most victims of stalking are women."

It intends to produce an interim report by 31 December 2021, and a final report by 30 June 2022.

The state of Victoria is in south-eastern Australia and its capital is Melbourne.

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Thursday, July 01, 2021

July/August 2021 Issue of AALL Spectrum

The July/August 2021 Issue of AALL Spectrum is now available online.

It is a publication of the American Association of Law Libraries.

This issue has a series of feature articles on diversity in the law library world.

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Law Commission of Ontario AI Case Study: Probabilistic Genotyping DNA Tools Used in Canadian Courts

The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has released an AI Case Study: Probabilistic Genotyping DNA Tools Used in Canadian Courts:

"Probabilistic genotyping (PG) is the use of artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze DNA samples collected in police investigations or criminal prosecutions. The overarching concern of this report is to examine whether and how AI-driven technologies like PG can continue to meet the high standards of due process, accountability and transparency, and fundamental legal rights demanded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and, by extension, the criminal justice system."

"The data and data science used at every stage of AI and algorithmic decision-making have human rights, equity, due process, and access to justice consequences. These tools often have built-in and largely hidden biases and discriminatory inferences in their decision-making. While appearing scientific, objective, and authoritative, they may be unreliable and invalid. Failure to study, understand, and regulate these tools can have significant system-wide and individual repercussions. Absent proper scrutiny, process, and legislation, there is a risk that AI tools, including PG DNA algorithms, will worsen racism in Canada’s justice system, and put access to justice further out of reach for many Ontarians. Unequal access to participation in decision-making about data and technology can further entrench existing biases and inequality. Reliance on AI tools, like PG DNA algorithms, may provide what appears to be infallible and reliable scientific evidence against individuals who are factually innocent. Because of the well-established over-representation of low income people and members of racialized and Indigenous communities in the criminal justice system, those most likely to face PG DNA evidence will often be those least likely to be financially resourced to challenge it. Absent proper scientific study, regulation, enforcement of relevant Charter rights, and due process protections, PG DNA evidence may lead to wrongful convictions. This concern is likely to disproportionately impact on communities that already suffer from systemic discrimination in the justice system and Canadian society at large."

It is part of the LCO's project on AI (artificial intelligence), ADM (automated decision-making ) and the Justice System.

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University of Saskatchewan Guide on Gladue Principles for Sentencing Indigenous Persons

The Indigenous Law Centre at the University of Saskatchewan has published a new book on The Gladue Principles: A Guide to the Jurisprudence that comes with a free PDF version.

The Gladue Principles were established by the Supreme Court of Canada.  They create a sentencing framework to be applied when determining a fit sentence for an Indigenous person. This framework emerged from the Supreme Court of Canada’s interpretation of s 718.2(e) of the Criminal Code, which currently reads as follows: "all available sanctions, other than imprisonment, that are reasonable in the circumstances and consistent with the harm done to victims or to the community should be considered for all offenders, with particular attention to the circumstances of Aboriginal offenders."

From the description of the book:

"Over the past two decades Canadian courts have repeatedly acknowledged that Indigenous individuals and collectives face systemic discrimination throughout the criminal justice system. The system’s disproportionate adverse impacts on Indigenous peoples have also been thoroughly studied and documented for over half a century. Indigenous individuals are over-represented among those charged, convicted, and sentenced to prison, as well as those who are victims of crime. Among other disparities, Indigenous individuals are more likely to be denied parole, spend a disproportionate amount of time in segregation, and are less likely to receive community-based sentences. At the same time, the criminal justice system has often marginalized the legal responses of Indigenous collectives to wrongdoing among their members."

"These systemic issues require systemic responses. On April 23, 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada provided one such response in its decision in R v Gladue, articulating a broad open-ended framework to address this crisis of legitimacy and outcomes in the sentencing of Indigenous persons. The Gladue decision’s main principles have since been extended to various other facets of the criminal justice system. At the direction of the BC First Nations Justice Council, this book synthesizes the hundreds of cases that expand on these principles to provide readily accessible guidance to all those involved in their practical implementation."

The Centre has also produced user guides for judges, Crown and defence counsel as well as people who write the Gladue reports used by judges when coming up with a fit sentence.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:41 pm 0 comments