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Ottawa, U.S. Steel settle legal battle, Reuters
N.B. seeks SCC ruling on language laws, National Post
Niqabs, burkas banned from citizenship ceremonies, National Post
Lee newspaper group files for bankruptcy, Reuters
WaMu settles dispute, prepares for bankruptcy exit, Reuters
Turkish officer convicted in Nigerian man's death, Reuters
Gambia's Fatou Bensouda next ICC chief prosecutor, Reuters
“We have been reduced to a whistle stop for justice,” says Barbara Morgan, president of the District of Rainy River Law Association, in quoting from another local lawyer on the matter.
According to the association, in May the Ontario Court of Justice is relocating the judicial appointment to Kenora, Ont., some 225 kilometres away. Morgan notes the situation has been going on for some time with the resident judge, Justice Thomas McKay, having instead chosen to live in Dryden, Ont., since his appointment. But with his request to relocate to London, Ont., the court has decided to make that situation permanent. The move will leave Kenora with four presiding judges, Thunder Bay with six, and the Rainy River district with none, says Morgan.
“It ultimately subordinates the needs of the entire south end of the district,” she says.
The Rainy River court district also includes Fort Frances and Atikokan, Ont., all of which have seen declining numbers of court days with the decreasing availability of judicial resources in recent years, says Morgan. She notes Rainy River now has just five sittings a year.
Morgan believes the change will exacerbate the problem of the greying of the bar in her area since younger lawyers will be reluctant to move to a place without a resident judge. The result, according to Morgan, will be more self-represented litigants.
Morgan notes that during McKay’s tenure in the Rainy River, local lawyers simply found ways to deal with what they thought was a temporary situation.
“Everybody works sort of co-operatively to accommodate the fact that there have been reduced court sittings,” she says, adding that won’t work in the long term. “The lawyers are saying look, ‘We need a resident judge here.’”
Justice Marc Bode, the senior judge for the northwest region, couldn’t be reached for comment by press time, but in a letter to Morgan last week, he said the court bases its decision on factors such as the number of charges and the percentage of matters requiring a trial in any one district. But Morgan argues those numbers are misleading since they don’t include proceedings that now take place by video link and in other locations due to the lack of sitting days. Further, she says those alternatives are problematic since litigants can’t necessarily afford to travel elsewhere for court.
Bode justified the change in his letter. “I am sure you are very conscious of the need to manage judicial resources carefully,” he wrote. “As things currently stand, the judge whose base court is located in Fort Frances is currently required to sit outside the district of Rainy River far more than 50 per cent of his total sitting time. As a court, we need to minimize the judicial time consumed in travelling and spread the responsibility for judicial travel among the judiciary. By identifying either Dryden or Kenora as the next judge’s base court, we are putting the next judge closer to where the greatest current need for judicial services exists.”
Bode also denied the change would affect the amount of judicial sittings in the Rainy River area. “I want to stress once again that it will be the need for judicial services in the district of Rainy River and not the location of any judge’s base court that will determine judicial sitting time in the district,” he wrote.
Obese travellers launch class action against Air Canada, CBC News
Parental abductors should face harsh consequences: lawyer, The Globe and Mail
Man charged in fatal Mississauga crash to make court appearance, CityNews
Pa. priest accused of possessing child porn, Reuters
Harrisburg council to appeal bankruptcy ruling, Reuters
Court orders reinstatement of ex-Papua New Guinea PM, Reuters
Philippine Congress impeaches Supreme Court chief justice, Reuters
|Photo: REUTERS/Jim Young|
Administrative law: The Halifax Citadel is a national historic site and zoned as a regional park. The main dispute arose when the Halifax Regional Municipality and the minister of Public Works and Government Services disagreed on the Citadel’s value, which needs to be determined for federal tax purposes.
Dec. 13 — Manitoba — Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Attorney General of Canada
Aboriginal law: Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. claims Canada didn’t meet the standard for a fiduciary when it implemented grants that dealt with land issues in accordance with the Manitoba Act. The trial judge ruled the case was statute-barred. The Court of Appeal applied the doctrine of mootness and would not address the issue of constitutionality.
Dec. 14 — Ontario — Linda Dale Gibbons v. R.
Criminal law: Linda Dale Gibbons is accused of displaying a protest sign within 60 feet of a clinic, which is in breach of an injunction restraining her from specific protest activities. She was charged with disobeying a court order, which she tried to quash by claiming that two of the Rules of Civil Procedure make it impossible to apply that section of the Criminal Code.
Dec. 14 — British Columbia — Damon William Knott v. R.
Criminal law: Damon William Knott was serving concurrent sentences in prison when he was given another six-month consecutive term and then an eight-month concurrent sentence plus probation. Another man, identified as D.A.P., was serving two years when he was sentenced to another three-year concurrent sentence. The issue is whether the Corrections and Conditional Release Act merges sentences for the purpose of s. 731(1) of the Criminal Code and if that section can be applied to more than one sentence. There is a publication ban in the case.
Dec. 15 — British Columbia — Matthew Leslie Maybin v. R.
Criminal law: A bar fight resulted in a man’s death. It’s alleged that two men and the bar’s doorman carried out separate assaults on the man and left him to die on the walkway outside the bar. At trial, the men were acquitted of manslaughter. The Crown appealed and the Court of Appeal ordered a new trial. In question is the doorman’s involvement in the man’s death.
Dec. 16 — Quebec — R. v. R.P.
Criminal law: A man is accused of committing sexual acts against his teenage sister-in-law between 1974 and 1979. The main issue is whether the trial judge made errors that led to an unreasonable verdict. There is a publication ban in the case.
The SCC will also release its ruling in:
Dec. 14 — Alberta — Information and Privacy Commissioner v. Alberta Teachers’ Association
In an October judgment, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Lucie LaVigne had already cut Gilbert McGloan Gillis’ fees to $150,000 from $500,000 after finding much of its work on a restructuring plan for the holdings of Hank Tepper under the Companies’ Creditor Arrangement Act was duplicated, unnecessary and wasteful.
But now the firm will have to hand over a large chunk of that amount, around $100,000 after a new ruling awarded costs against the firm itself for its behaviour.
“GMG’s conduct amounts to a serious dereliction of the duty owed to the court which justifies the use of the word ‘gross.’ It clearly goes beyond mistake, error in judgment, or mere negligence. I conclude that GMG’s conduct amounts to acting in disregard of the interests of justice in these CCAA proceedings,” LaVigne wrote in the Dec. 1 decision.
Tepper has been held without charge in Lebanon since March over the alleged export of potatoes by his company to Algeria that were found to have ring rot. GMG withdrew as representative for the companies after creditors and a court-appointed monitor raised concerns about its billings, but continues to advocate for Tepper’s release from custody in Lebanon.
The firm argued that only individual lawyers could be held liable for costs, but at least nine lawyers and one articling student from GMG had worked on the file, making it “very difficult, if not impossible, to single out particular lawyers in this case,” said the judge.
LaVigne found GMG had failed to make full disclosure during an ex-parte motion, allowed inaccurate information on company cash flow to be presented to the court, brought unnecessary motions, and acted in its own interest to the detriment of the corporations when it refused at first to remove itself from the file until an arrangement could be reached over its fees.
In proceeding as it did at the initial hearing in June, LaVigne said the firm “set the ground for distrust which explains in part why there had been little or no progress towards a plan of arrangement as of September 30.”
The costs incurred by all parties so far is more than $650,000, but LaVigne said it was difficult to give a precise estimate for the amount wasted due to GMG’s actions. In the end, she ordered the firm to pay the court-appointed monitor $11,000, plus $25,000 for its lawyer. Main creditor BMO got $50,000 and another creditor, the National Bank, got $8,000. A further $8,500 was shared between BMO and the monitor for their costs on the hearing.
It’s been a tough couple of months for GMG. In addition to the Tepper episode, senior partner Rodney Gillis, was recently charged with obstruction of justice, according to local Telegraph-Journal newspaper.
The Telegraph-Journal says the file has been passed on to an out-of-province prosecutor after an investigation by Fredericton Police into an incident in Bathurst, N.B., in which Gillis allegedly attempted to “dissuade a person by threats, bribes or other corrupt means from giving evidence.”
“I’ve never obstructed any justice any time in my life,” Gillis told the paper in response. “I’m somewhat taken aback by such an outrageous statement.”
Que. judge orders return of Marciano's assets, The Gazette
Media challenge production order for Vancouver riot material, National Post
B.C. court tells Gitxsan First Nation protesters to end blockade, CBC News
2 people dead in Virginia Tech shooting, Reuters
Ark. death row inmate gets new trial over juror's tweets, Reuters
Japanese whalers sue U.S. conservation group, Reuters
Chinese farmers sentenced to death, jailed over tainted milk, Reuters
|The LSBC has launched the Justicia program.|
Only 36 per cent of practising lawyers in B.C. are women. In addition, the law society found one-third of new female lawyers left the practice of law between 2003-08, compared with 20 per cent of new male lawyers.
“This issue exists throughout the world and there is no easy fix, but the law society is committed to effecting change and Justicia is the latest step we’re taking,” added Hume.
The program, called Justicia, follows the Justicia Project launched in Ontario in 2008 by the Law Society of Upper Canada. More than 50 law firms have joined the Justicia Project in its initiative to support female lawyers by sharing best practices, developing resources, and adopting programs. The B.C. law society is aiming for a similar outcome in that province.
The woman, identified as N.S., has accused her uncle and cousin of sexually assaulting her when she was a child. She wishes to wear her religious clothing — a hijab, a full body dress, and a niqab, which covers the entire face except for the eyes — when testifying against them.
|The SCC will decide if a woman can wear her niqab when testifying in a sexual assault case. Photo: Alfred Weidinger|
But N.S. claims the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects her right to wear the niqab as part of her Muslim beliefs.
Joanna Birenbaum, director of litigation for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, an intervener in the case, says if the SCC orders N.S. to remove her niqab, it could have far-reaching implications for sexual assault victims. “For Muslim women who already experience racism and other forms of discrimination, a signal from the court that the Canadian justice system is an unwelcome place to them will further exacerbate that problem.”
The problem she’s referring to is the number of sexual assaults that go unreported. Birenbaum claims that less than 10 per cent of all sexual assaults are reported and in certain minority or marginalized communities that number drops to less than 10 per cent.
She says: “if [Muslim women] believe that they will be required to remove their niqabs or put through a demeaning and humiliating process before having a determination of whether or not they can wear their niqabs while testifying, they’re simply not going to report [sexual assaults].”
On the contrary, if the SCC rules that N.S. is allowed to wear her niqab, Birenbaum says it will not be “a huge shift in Canadian jurisprudence.” She points to the hearsay rule, which permits evidence to be submitted before the court without the ability to see or cross-examine the witness. Other examples include witnesses, such as children, who testify behind a screen or in another room, and transcripts read in court.
“With a niqab-wearing witness, that witness is in the courtroom answering questions. Fundamentally and ultimately it’s the evidence — the words, the statements — that the person gives which are most important and that evidence is fully available,” she adds.
The judge at the preliminary inquiry ordered that N.S. remove her niqab before testifying but an Ontario Superior Court judge later dismissed that order. The Ontario Court of Appeal then overturned the Superior Court’s decision, ruling that witnesses must remove the niqab on the stand only if it’s been proven that it would threaten the accused’s right to a fair trial, which must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
“If a witness establishes that wearing her niqab is a legitimate exercise of her religious freedoms, then the onus moves to the accused to show why the exercise of this constitutionally protected right would compromise his constitutionally protected right to make full answer and defence,” Justice David Doherty wrote in the Court of Appeal’s ruling.
The appeal court sent the case back to the preliminary inquiry judge, but N.S. appealed the decision to the Supreme Court instead.
Agriculture minister broke law on Wheat Board: court, Reuters
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Heenan Blaikie partner resigns following reports of lobbyist ties, National Post
Muslim charity leaders' convictions upheld, Reuters
Jury considers death penalty in fatal home invasion, Reuters
U.S. citizen jailed in Thailand for insulting monarchy, Reuters
Mubarak trial to continue after Egyptian court rejects appeal, Reuters
Prichard has been an independent director of BMO since 2000 and upon shareholder approval at BMO’s annual meeting in Halifax on March 20, 2012, the company intends to appoint him to the chairman’s position to replace the retiring David A. Galloway.
“I am grateful for the board’s confidence and look forward to working with the board and management to deliver superior performance by the bank that defines great customer experience,” said Prichard in a news release.
“Under Rob’s leadership, I have every confidence that good governance will remain a source of competitive advantage for BMO,” said Galloway.
No stranger to the boardrooms of large organizations, Prichard is the head of the Greater Toronto Area transport agency Metrolinx as well as a director of George Weston Ltd. and Onex Corp. Between 1990 and 2000, he was president of the University of Toronto, where he helped boost the university’s endowment to a then-Canadian record of $1.4 billion. He is also the former president and CEO of Torstar Corp.
Bruce McCuaig, president and CEO of Metrolinx, told the Toronto Star Prichard will stay on with the the agency that operates GO Transit for the Ontario government.
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Gail J. Cohen