Legal Feeds Blog
|A web site, youbethejudge.ca, questions NDP candidate Carol Baird Ellan’s rulings while on the bench.|
“This is one of the risks of people who have held judicial office becoming involved in partisan politics,” says Emmett Macfarlane, a professor at the University of Waterloo, of the Conservative attacks on B.C. NDP candidate Carol Baird Ellan.
The comments follow the launch of a Conservative web site, youbethejudge.ca, suggesting Baird Ellan was soft on crime while on the B.C. Provincial Court bench. “For five years she was a member of the B.C. provincial court, time and time again, when serious criminals — including sex offenders — appeared before her court, she exercised her discretion to give them a lenient sentence,” the web site states.
“Now, Ellan is helping the NDP bring their soft-on-crime approach to all of Canada.”
The web site highlights three of Baird Ellan’s rulings that it deems “unfair.” In one case, it says she gave a two-year sentence to a man who sexually abused his two granddaughters for six years. In another, she sent a man to jail for one day for exposing his genitals to minors, according to the web site. Two of the cases date back to the 1990s, while the other is about five years old.
Baird Ellan has been off the bench for some time, having retired from the court in 2012. After winning the NDP nomination for Burnaby North-Seymour earlier this year, she said she wanted to try to bring about change as an elected politician and highlighted issues, such as the environment, that she feels strongly about. Macfarlane, who has written a book looking at some of the issues surrounding the judiciary, Governing from the Bench: The Supreme Court of Canada and the Judicial Role, says the Conservatives have a right to question the rulings of judges who run for office. “It’s fair ball for the Conservatives to look at a candidate’s record,” he says, noting the situation raises questions about the line between politics and the judiciary. The perception matters, he adds, suggesting he has concerns as well about former cabinet ministers, such as Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Vic Toews, who quickly joined the bench after leaving politics.
“I think there’s a real issue there that we have to do some hard thinking about,” says Macfarlane, adding there may be the need for rules such as a cooling-off period before those who leave the bench can enter politics.
“Perception is what kind of holds the thing together,” he says, noting that movement between the bench and politics can raise questions about a judge’s impartiality while on the court.
For her part, Baird Ellan says her party has lots to offer when it comes to dealing with crime and boosting public safety.
“The fact is the Conservatives are getting increasingly desperate with their misleading attacks," she says. "I was the first-ever female Provincial Court chief judge and when it comes to crime and policing, Canadians are looking for action but the Conservatives are just giving them a bunch of broken promises. Tom Mulcair has a plan to make streets safer by relaunching the police officer recruitment fund and put 2,500 new police officers on the streets. That’s the change Canadians want.”
Re-trial begins for Quebec man charged with killing his children, Canadian Press
Trial begins for former aide to PM, Canadian Press
As of Sept. 1, the Law Society of British Columbia’s has a new regulation that allows articling students to serve as commissioners and take affidavits in B.C. The move extends the work the LSBC started in 2011 giving students greater powers to act.
“This rule change was part of ongoing efforts by the Benchers to help make legal services more accessible and affordable for the public,” LSBC spokesman David Jordan said in an e-mail.
“In September 2011, new law society rules took effect that allow articled students to provide all legal services that a lawyer is permitted to provide, with some exceptions, with the supervising lawyer responsible for ensuring the student is competent and properly prepared.”
Jordan said the authority granted to lawyers to act as commissioners for affidavits happened to fall under the Evidence Act, and at the time that act did not extend the authority to act as a commissioner of affidavits to articled students.
“The law society requested that the act be changed, and it was. So as of Sept. 1, acting as a commissioner for affidavits is included in the services an articled student can provide.”
The new service will be a positive benefit to legal firms, said Bradley Morse, dean of Thompson Rivers University law school, especially for the smaller law firms that are common throughout B.C.
“It is often difficult to find enough work for students in one-, two-, or three-person law firms, so this is another thing that a student can now do,” he said.
At the same, he said, students often bring language skills into a law firm and that skill combined with the commissioner abilities can be valuable as the student can now assist in interpreting and dealing with documents where the client may have English as a second language.
It will also free up the time of a senior lawyer who can now delegate such duties to an articling student, said Morse.
“That’s a benefit to the public in terms of cost,” he said.
Allison Cowen, manager of student and associate programs Farris & Co., said it was another service that articling students can provide.
“When it occurs on a file, it saves having to bring someone in. And, it’s good experience for the student.”
U of T increases security after online threats against women, Canadian Press
Omar Khader seeks ease in bail conditions, Canadian Press
|In one of the images, a sign warns inmates that calls may be recorded.|
Wrapped around the east-facing glass façade, an image of an empty prison yard at the recently closed Kingston Penitentiary will be unveiled by the law school this Wednesday.Overlaid atop the photo is a drawing of a teepee, a reference to the location within the prison yard where many native cultural practices took place and a not-too-subtle reference to the overrepresentation of aboriginals in Canada’s prison population.
The image is the work of Cindy Blazevic, Osgoode Hall’s artist in residence for 2014. It represents just one of the many thought-provoking pieces comprising her photo and essay presentation about the infamous prison.When Kingston Penitentiary closed its doors on Sept. 30, 2013, Blazevic saw an opportunity to peer inside and capture the moment before all of the evidence of lives lived within the prison was erased.
Her images of abandoned wards and cells — combined with essays by upper-year Osgoode Hall students and historical documents — offer a glimpse into the many challenges facing the penal system in Canada.
In one image, a poster of Jesus is stuck to a wall littered with scrawled notes and crossed-out numbers; in another, a rectangle of clean paint remains where a public phone has been pulled out of the wall. Nearby, a sign warns inmates that calls may be recorded.
“Seeing [the prison] at the end of its life, without prisoners, allows us to see artifacts of lives lived within the building as well as the inherent limitations not only of this particular institution, but of any prison,” said Blazevic.
The essays, meanwhile, provide historical and legal context for the images. Osgoode Hall student Simon Wallace wrote about the various political factions that sought to infuse the prison with their own brand of reform while Pamela Hinman wrote about the organizational stress that correctional officers are chronically subjected to.
The photos, essays, and documents are all laid out in a slick graphical presentation that will be on permanent display on the university’s web site.
“The web site is a choose-your-own adventure,” said Blazevic. “I don’t expect anyone to read or listen to the whole thing, but rather to be able to dip in and out.No matter where you land, it’ll be thought-provoking, maybe even perspective-altering.”
The physical art installation outside the school will be up until March 2016.
Acadia University student charged with sexual assault, Canadian Press
Last night, Canadian Lawyer InHouse celebrated the second annual Innovatio Awards with a sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Four Seasons Hotel.
The Innovatio Awards celebrate in-house legal departments that have embraced innovation and improved the way they practise in today’s complex environment. From running a department, to working with global partners and managing tight-budgets to achieve great outcomes, the winners represent the best practices from in-house departments across Canada. Honourees were peer-nominated, and finalists were selected by a venerated panel of judges
These awards were again judged by a panel of distinguised in-house counsel consisting of senior in-house counsel from 10 different Canadian public and private organizations. Nominations for the Innovatio Awards, by and large, also came from in-house counsel, underlining our aim of holding an award show by and for in-house counsel.
Keynote speaker and legal tech innovator Jason Moyse shared his thoughts on innovation in the legal space and redefining the boundaries of what legal work really is.
Read more about the winner’s projects and programs in this month’s Canadian Lawyer InHouse magazine.
Hopefully you’ll be inspired to nominate your team or a great team that you’ve worked with for next year’s awards. Stay tuned for nomination details in the coming months.
Jury selection in Dennis Oland murder trial enters second day, Canadian Press
Prosecutors seek adult sentence for Winnipeg teenager who sexually assaulted girlfriend, Canadian Press
In response to the crisis in Syria, Canadian law firms are stepping up to privately sponsor refugees to Canada or assist in the process.
Goldblatt Partners LLP says it will work with Lifeline Syria to sponsor a Syrian refugee family, and it has launched a fundraising campaign to cover living and other expenses for the family for one year.
The firm’s partners agreed last week to match donations dollar to dollar up to $15,000, with the goal of raising at least $30,000.
The response comes after a tragic photo of a dead Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach drew the world’s attention to the refugee crisis. Goldblatt Partners associate Frances Mahon says she and her colleagues discussed the idea of sponsorship for weeks, but they decided to take action last week.
“Probably every office has been talking about this, especially over the past week, and there was such a sense of hopelessness among all of us last week,” Mahon says. “We thought this is a way everybody could contribute. Whether financially or otherwise, it’s going to be all hands on deck in the firm.”
Goldblatt Partners is also working on a how-to guide for private sponsorships in hopes of rallying other firms to join the cause, Mahon says.
“We envision this as a call to action to other firms. If we can do it, they can do it too,” she adds.
In Goderich, Ont., The Ross Firm is proposing the town undertake a sponsorship of refugees with groups of five people, or community groups privately sponsoring refugees. The firm says it would provide pro bono assistance, direction, and support during the application process.
“At this point, we’ve reached out to the community as a whole and let them know this is something that we would be willing to take on, and are looking for support within the community to see if there’s a willingness to move forward with it,” says Matthew Chapman, spokesman for Quinn Ross, managing partner of The Ross Firm.
“We’ve had a pretty strong response so far, it’s been very promising,” Chapman adds, noting community members have come forward offering administrative, financial, and assimilation support. The law firm is hoping to speak with the town’s council later this month to discuss the initiative.
At Goldblatt Partners, Mahon says the firm will also be providing non-financial assistance to the refugees it sponsors as well. This will include airport pickups when they arrive, connecting refugees to the Syrian community in Canada, and helping them find employment, she says.
Updated Sept. 9: Title of Matthew Chapman corrected
Jury selection begins in Dennis Oland murder trial, Canadian Press
Cape Breton police officer charged with assaulting two women, Canadian Press
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