Thursday, November 28, 2013

Annual Report of the Office of the Correctional Investigator

On Tuesday, the Office of the Correctional Investigator tabled its most recent annual report in Parliament.

The Correctional Investigator, Howard Sapers, acts as an ombudsman for federal offenders, investigating and solving individual offender complaints.

Among the highlights of the report:
  • Close to one-in-five (18%) federal offenders (community and incarcerated) is a visible minority. This segment of the offender population has increased by 75% over the past 10 years.
  • Since 2006-07, the total offender population (community and incarcerated) increased by 1,539 offenders or 7.1%. All new net growth in the offender population over this period can be accounted for by increases in Aboriginal (+793), Black (+585), Asian (+337) and other visible minority groups. During this same time period, the total Caucasian offender population actually decreased (-466).
  • Though slowly declining, Caucasians make up the largest proportion of the offender population (62.3%), followed by Aboriginals (19.3%), Blacks (8.6%), Asians (5.4%), Hispanics (0.9%) and other visible minority groups (3.4%).
  • When combined, the number of Aboriginal and visible minority inmates now exceeds 6,000 of a total incarcerated population of approximately 15,000. In other words, 40% of the inmate count on any given day now comes from a non-Caucasian background
  • The growing proportion of visible minority offenders reflects an increasingly diverse, multi-ethnic and pluralistic Canadian society. Nearly one in four visible minority offenders are foreign-born, many practice religious faiths other than Christianity and a number speak languages other than English or French in their home. Facilitating institutional adjustment, meaningful participation in correctional programs and community reintegration for these offenders poses considerable challenges.
  • On many indicators of correctional performance, visible minority offenders appear to fare better compared to the total offender population. Over the last 7 years, on average, less than 5% of visible minority inmates have been readmitted within two years of their warrant expiry date. There are however, important differences in these very distinct and diverse groups. •As the case study on Black inmates demonstrates, Black inmates are over-represented in maximum security and segregation, incur a disproportionate number of institutional charges, and are more likely to be involved in use of force incidents.
  • Discriminatory behaviour and prejudicial attitudes by some federal correctional staff are reported as common experiences for many visible minority inmates. For example, Black inmates report stereotyping by personnel that often labels them as gang members. Black inmates report that their behaviours, actions or spoken communication appear to be assessed through a ‘gang lens’.
  • Diversity training that is integrated within the overall training framework and rooted in practical and operational experience and support is key to building awareness, sensitivity and cultural competency.
Sapers recommends that correctional service develop a national Diversity Awareness Training Plan to provide practical and operational training in the areas of diversity, sensitivity and cultural competency.

He also recommends the establishment of an Ethnicity Liaison Officer responsible for building and maintaining linkages with culturally diverse community groups and organizations which at present are very limited.

Other sections of the report deal with issues such as mental health care, prevention of deaths in custody, conditions of confinement, issues affecting Aboriginal and women offenders and access to correctional programs.

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Law Library of Congress Report on Adjudication of Sexual Offenses in Military Justice Systems

The Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has published a new comparative report on the handling and adjudication of sexual offenses in the military. The report examines how the military justice systems of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel and the United Kingdom deal with alleged sexual offending by service members.

The Library occasionally publishes reports that compare the laws on a given theme in a number of countries.

Earlier comparative law reports from the Law Library of Congress have covered topics such as:
The Law Library of Congress is the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes from all ages of history and virtually every jurisdiction in the world.

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

December 2013 Issue of AALL Spectrum

The December 2013 issue of AALL Spectrum, a monthly publication of the American Association of Law Libraries, is available.

Among this month's selection of articles:

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Supreme Court of Canada Hearings Calendar for December 2013

The Supreme Court of Canada has published its calendar of appeal hearings for December 2013.

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

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Seventh Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 Contest

One hundred law blogs have been nominated in 13 categories for the latest ABA Journal Blawg 100 blog-ranking competition.

 People have until December 20, 2013 to register and vote for the blogs they think are the best of the year in each group.

One of the entries is Canadian Jordan Furlong's blog Law 21.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Who Created the First--Ever Law Blog?

I never really thought of this.

But I am glad someone has looked into this.

The answer, apparently, is U.S. immigration lawyer Gregory Siskind in 1998.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Are Canadian Courthouses Crumbling?

Canadian Lawyer magazine has published an article Keeping up appearances that details the state of disrepair of many courthouses across Canada:
"Should courthouses be given greater priority by ministries faced with tough spending decisions? For many lawyers, the issue goes well beyond an aversion to ratty working environments. [Edmonton lawyer Peter] Court fears the environment at Sherwood Park [near Edmonton] discourages defendants, especially those appearing before the Youth Court, from taking the proceedings seriously. 'What are you seeing when you have a facility like this? That there’s no regard for the institution of the administration of justice,' he says, adding: 'If the building has no gravitas or solemnity, how can anyone engender respect for the institution?' It is far from being the only courthouse that appears to be letting down lawyers and their clients."

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Library of Parliament Launches Digital Portal for Federal Debates From 1867 Onwards

The Library of Parliament, in collaboration with Canadiana.org, has launched a new Historical Debates of the Parliament of Canada digital portal.

The portal offers free public access to digital versions of the debates of the Parliament of Canada in both official languages, starting with the first session of Parliament in 1867 until debate coverage on the parliamentary website parl.gc.ca begins (Debates for the House of Commons are available as of January 17, 1994 ; Debates for the Senate of Canada are available from the parliamentary website as of February 27, 1996).

The collection can be browsed by Chamber, Parliament, Session, and volume, and is full-text searchable with a number of search filters available.

The About / Help page has more background as well as help with search syntax.

Canadiana.org is a not-for-profit, charitable organization made up of public libraries, archives, research institutions, and other organizations committed to digitizing, preserving, and providing access to Canada’s documentary heritage.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Statistics Canada Article on Co-Offending

The Statistics Canada publication Juristat has published a new article entitled Co-offending in Canada, 2011:
"Co-offences can be categorized into pair crimes, those incidents committed by 2 offenders, and group crimes, which involve 3 or more offenders. Measuring the nature and extent of co-offending is an area of importance as previous studies have shown that co-offences are, on average, more serious than those involving a lone offender (...)"

"In 2011, co-offending accounted for 11% of cleared incidents reported by police. As seen with crime rates overall, the prevalence of co-offending has declined over time, falling 2.3% between 1995 and 2006, with little change after that year. Most co-offences in 2011 were pair crimes, involving just 2 accused. Group crimes involving numerous offenders (i.e. 6 or more persons) were found to be somewhat rare, comprising less than 2% of all co-offences. Overall, females were more likely than males to be co-offenders, though more than half of co-offending incidents were committed by all male groups. Youth were more likely than adults to be co-offenders and the prevalence of co-offending decreased with age. In general, co-offending was found to be most common among drug and property related crime, particular for incidents in which all accused were youth. Co-offending incidents were more serious, on average, than incidents involving a lone accused."

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Alberta Law Reform Institute Final Report on Arbitration Act: Stay and Appeal Issues

The Alberta Law Reform Institute (ALRI) recently published its Final Report 103 - Arbitration Act: Stay and Appeal Issues:
"A modern Arbitration Act became law in Alberta in 1991. In the two decades since, certain issues have arisen in Alberta case law which affect the ideal functioning of the arbitration system ... The Final Report contains ALRI’s recommendations for reform, which are outlined in this Summary."

"ALRI reaffirms the two fundamental principles underlying the Alberta Act: the principle of party control and the principle of restricted court intervention. ALRI relied on these principles when formulating final recommendations in order to maintain conceptual consistency within the Alberta Act."

"The first issue concerns partial stays of competing court proceedings under section 7(5). Partial stays work well when arbitrable and litigable issues are reasonably separable, which is a prerequisite to the operation of section 7(5). But what should a court do when they cannot be reasonably separated or the competing litigation involves additional parties who are not subject to the arbitration agreement or both? (...)"
"Alberta courts have produced some strikingly divergent lines of case law on issues which essentially concern how accessible arbitral appeals should be. The policy basis of appeals under section 44 of the Alberta Act seems to be unclear, ambiguous or even contradictory. The legislation provides appeal routes and yet undermines them at the same time. ALRI has therefore rethought the role of arbitral appeals in a more fundamental way and proposes a new balance between the competing policy considerations. ALRI recommends that arbitration parties should continue to be able, by agreement, to appeal an arbitral award to the Court of Queen’s Bench on whatever basis the parties decide. This promotes the principle of party control over the arbitral process. Consultation feedback also favoured retaining such consensual appeals. However, ALRI proposes that this should be the only appeal route. ALRI recommends repealing non-consensual appeals on a question of law by leave of the court. Nova Scotia and Quebec similarly do not provide such an appeal route. Strengthening the principle of restricted court intervention in the Alberta Act also enhances the principle of party control. Although consultation feedback was more mixed on this issue, a slight edge of respondents advocated repealing these appeals as well..."

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

November/December 2013 Issue of LawNow: Birth & the Law

The most recent issue of LawNow is available online.

The magazine is published by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta.

The current issue is devoted to birth and the law:

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Australian Law Reform Commission Paper on Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws

The Australian Law Reform Commission has released an Issues Paper, Equality, Capacity and Disability in Commonwealth Laws that will serve as the basis for a consultation on how Australian laws affect the ability of people with disabilities to exercise legal capacity.

The paper asks 40 questions about how the law might treat people with disability unfairly in areas including: employment, health, social security, banking, insurance, restrictive practices, access to justice, aged care, and anti-discrimination:
"The purpose of this review is to ensure that Commonwealth laws and legal frameworks are responsive to the needs of people with disability and to advance, promote and respect their rights. In considering what if any changes to Commonwealth law could be made, the ALRC should consider:
  • how laws and legal frameworks are implemented and operate in practice
  • the language used in laws and legal frameworks
  • how decision making by people with impairment that affects their decision making can be validly and effectively supported
  • presumptions about a person’s ability to exercise legal capacity and whether these discriminate against people with disability
  • use of appropriate communication to allow people with disability to exercise legal capacity, including alternative modes, means and formats of communication such as Easy English, sign language, Braille, and augmentative communications technology
  • how a person’s ability to independently make decisions is assessed, and mechanisms to review these decisions"

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Friday, November 15, 2013

November 2013 Issue of Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World

The Governance and Recordkeeping Around the World newsletter, published by Library and Archives Canada (LAC), highlights issues pertaining to government and recordkeeping practices in the public and private sector.

The November 2013 issue has just been published on the LAC website.

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

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Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of November 1-15, 2013 is now available on the Court website.

 The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library lends materials from all but the most recent New Library Titles list in accordance with its Interlibrary Loan Policy."

 It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

US Court Dismisses Copyright Lawsuit Against Google Books Project

Judge Denny Chin of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York today dismissed the copyright violation lawsuit that US author groups had launched against  Google.

The search giant has been digitizing millions of books to create a massive online library / bookstore but the project was opposed in a lawsuit by US publishers and author organizations dating back to 2005. The publishers' group split off and settled earlier.

The judge wrote that the project respects authors' rights and is a case of "fair use" (equivalent to fair dealing in Canadian copyright law):
"It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life. It facilitates access to books for print-disabled and remote or underserved populations. It generates new audiences and creates new sources of income for authors and publishers. Indeed, all society benefits."
The Infodocket website has full coverage and reaction from parties and observers. It also includes a full-text of the court decision.

Earlier Library Boy posts about the Google Book controversy include:

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Videos as a Tool for Public Legal Education

LawNow, a magazine published by the Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta (CPLEA), has a recent feature article on Public Legal Education on the Small Screen.

It looks at the use of online video by public legal education organizations in Canada. In particular, the article describes the experience of the Public Legal Education and Information Service of New Brunswick (PLEIS-NB) and the CPLEA:
"Both PLEIS-NB and CPLEA emphasize that videos are part of an integrated education effort, with additional print and in-person presentation materials playing an important role in providing context for the video-based information. CPLEA says that their videos are usually 'paired with a print (or PDF) resource,' and are often incorporated into presentations, with positive results (...)
"The ease and low cost of sharing online videos is another benefit. As the CPLEA points out, 'videos are embeddable and shareable on social networks and can help spread our message and increase awareness of our organization and mission.' The CPLEA hosts their videos on YouTube, which add another level of connectivity since the online platform 'suggests related videos allow[ing] users to find [the CPLEA’s] material serendipitously'."
"Of course, online video is not without its drawbacks, especially for many Canadians living in rural areas. In New Brunswick, Doherty [Deborah Doherty, executive director of PLEIS-NB] says that Wifi connections are limited, and that during their monthly family law presentations, 'the videos can be choppy because of bandwidth issues, but that is the reality of living in a rural community'." 

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Congress.gov to Replace THOMAS Legislative Info Service Next Week

Congress.gov, the new free U.S. federal legislation portal that has been in beta since last fall, will officially replace the well-known Thomas.gov as of November 19, 2013:
"Beginning Nov. 19, typing Thomas.gov into a web browser will automatically redirect to Congress.gov. @Thomasdotgov Twitter followers will be transferred to the @Congressdotgov account. THOMAS.gov will remain accessible from the Congress.gov homepage through late 2014 before it is retired."

"When the Library of Congress, in collaboration with the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the Government Printing Office (GPO) released Congress.gov as a beta site in the fall of 2012, it included bill status and summary, member profiles and bill text from the two most recent congresses at that time – the 111th and 112th."

"In the year since, Congress.gov has expanded with the additions of the Congressional Record, committee reports, direct links from bills to cost estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, legislative process videos, committee profile pages and historic access reaching back to the 103rd Congress."
The About Congress.gov page has more background on the coverage and search functionality of the site

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Supreme Court of Canada Departmental Performance Report 2012-2013

The federal government last week tabled 92 Departmental Performance Reports on behalf of federal departments and agencies.

 The 2012-2013 Departmental Performance Report for the Supreme Court of Canada provides an outline of the institution's activities in the last year.

Every year, federal departments and agencies publish Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPPs) outlining their strategic goals. At the end of the fiscal year, Departmental Performance Reports look back on actual accomplishments and expenditures, to assess how well the agencies performed as measured against the objectives that were set out in the RPPs.


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Friday, November 08, 2013

Fall 2013 Issue of Law Library Journal Now Available

The Fall 2013 issue of Law Library Journal is available on the website of the American Association of Law Libraries.

Among the articles are the following:

  • Locked Collections: Copyright and the Future of Research Support: "Researchers in institutions of higher education depend on access to the scholarly record, and academic libraries play a critical role in supporting this research. As academic collections shift to primarily electronic format, research support is in jeopardy. Copyright holders, through the use of licensing and contracts to control electronic works, limit or prohibit interlibrary loan and other means of research support. As predominantly digital library collections increase, libraries may find that they have locked collections. They will be unable to lend or to borrow. This article examines how increased reliance on e-collections impacts the ability of academic libraries to support research and explores and assesses various approaches to ensure research support."
  • Oh My Blawg! Who Will Save the Legal Blogs?: "Legal professionals continue to need access to legal blogs for their scholarly, historical, and practical research. However, at this time there is no concrete solution guaranteeing the continued availability of the wide range of legal blogs. Without immediate action, the essential content of legal blogs may be lost forever. This article provides an overview of the state of legal blog preservation and suggests a blueprint for creating an optimal process to ensure continuing access to vital legal blogs."
  • Marketing and Outreach in Law Libraries: A White Paper: "In recent years, libraries have turned to marketing and outreach to better educate library users about services and resources while gaining an understanding of their needs. Marketing and outreach are relatively new concepts in academic law libraries, and librarians tasked with these functions have found resources and examples of this type of work to be lacking. Though focused on academic law libraries, the article identifies the challenges facing all law libraries, explains why libraries need marketing and outreach plans, and provides examples of marketing and outreach successes."

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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Law Reform Commission of Ireland Report on Sexual Offences and Capacity to Consent

The Law Reform Commission of Ireland has released a Report on Sexual Offences and Capacity to Consent.

The Commission recommends that section 5 of the Irish Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 should be repealed and replaced because it fails to empower people whose capacity may be at issue (for example, because of an intellectual disability) to realize their right to sexual expression. This is so because the existing legislation does not clearly provide that no offence is committed where they engage in a sexual act and there is no exploitation or abuse of either person.

It also fails to protect persons whose capacity is in question from the most common types of exploitation or abuse because the 1993 Act deals with sexual intercourse only and ignores the reality that exploitation or abuse often arises from other unwanted sexual acts.

Among the Report's other recommendations:
  • Legislation should be enacted to replace section 5 of the 1993 Act that would be based on a functional test of capacity, which is a rights-based approach that is in line with the UN’s 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities and also with the Government’s recently published Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013;
  • The legislation to replace section 5 of the 1993 Act should provide that a person has capacity to consent to any sexual act where he or she is able to choose to agree to the specific sexual act involved (including where he or she has been given suitable decision-making assistance) because he or she: (a) understands the nature and reasonably foreseeable consequences of the act; (b) can use or weigh up relevant information in deciding whether to engage in the sexual act; and (c) is able to communicate his or her decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means);
  • The new legislation should cover all forms of sexual assault (including sexual assault and rape) and also any other acts that involve exploitation or abuse (such as unwillingly having to watch others involved in sexual acts);
  • The accused should, in general, have a defence of reasonable belief that the person has capacity to consent, but this defence should not be available to persons in a position of trust or authority (which should include close family members and professional carers) in relation to whom there should be a rebuttable presumption that he or she knew that the person did not have capacity to consent;
  • Guidelines should be developed for those working in the criminal justice system to identify current obstacles and examine methods by which the participation in court proceedings of persons covered by the proposed legislation could be enhanced
The Report also looks at the legal situation in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand.

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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

October 2013 Issue of Connected Bulletin on Courts and Social Media

The October 2013 issue of Connected is available online. The bulletin covers news about the impact of new social media on courts. Most of the items are about the United States, but there is occasional coverage of other jurisdictions.

The bulletin is published by the Virginia-based National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

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Monday, November 04, 2013

Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of October 16-31, 2013 is now available on the Court website.

The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library lends materials from all but the most recent New Library Titles list in accordance with its Interlibrary Loan Policy."

It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

In Session: Canadian Association of Law Libraries' New e-Newsletter

Since the beginning of the fall, the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) has been publishing a monthly e-newsletter called In Session.

Here is the most recent issue (November 2013). It contains news from CALL committees and special interest groups, member updates and events.

Previous issues:

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Canadian Association of Law Libraries Webinar on the Business Case Approach

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) is hosting a webinar on Taking the Business Case Approach on November 26, 2013 from 1 to 2:30 PM Eastern time:
"The 'Taking the Business Case Approach' session walks through the 9 components of a typical business case document. Ulla explains, with reference to scenarios or questions invited from the audience in advance, how to position requests for funding, changes in staffing, new procedures, or other changes with the aim of clarifying for decision makers the options, investments, and ramifications for each."
The speaker is well-known strategic planning consultant Ulla de Stricker.

The cost is $45.20 for CALL members, and $67.80 for non-members.

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