Legal Feeds Blog
|Linda Rothstein says the projects will give the foundation insight into how technology can be used to help young people facing legal problems.|
“Access to justice remains a problem and it is something that we need to work to continue to improve,” says Kirsti Mathers McHenry, director of policy and programs at the Law Foundation of Ontario. “I think organizations like the Legal Innovation Zone and the Winkler Institute are taking new approaches to old problems and hopefully coming up with some new solutions.”
The two organizations were selected to receive the grants based on an application process through the law foundation. Mathers McHenry described the process as “not the sort of traditional call” because the law foundation first approached organizations with expertise around design thinking and technology, then selected the recipients.
The law foundation’s former CEO from 2007-2015, Elizabeth Goldberg, inspired the grants, which are funded by revenue from the interest of lawyers’ mixed trust accounts. The law foundation’s current board chair, Linda Rothstein, said in a statement that Goldberg was the first one in the organization who noted that technological innovation could lead to better serving and connecting with youth in the context of the justice system.
“Together, these projects will give the foundation insight into how technology can be harnessed to help young people facing legal problems,” said Rothstein.
The Ryerson LIZ will be using its grant for a project that’s geared toward improving access to justice for urban youth through workshops. They will be working closely with the law foundation and youth to hear about their experiences and specific needs when it comes to accessing the justice system.
From those conversations, the LIZ is planning to produce a white paper outlining the project’s methodology and the recommendations for tech-based access to justice solutions that it will be coming up with from these workshops.
“It’s a fabulous initiative by the law foundation and it’s making sure that youth are better connected with the justice system that’s supposed to serve them,” says Chris Bentley, executive director of the LIZ.
The Winkler Institute will be continuing work started by a youth-led initiative, Feathers of Hope, focusing on developing solutions for aboriginal youth in remote communities to access the justice system in a way that’s culturally sensitive. The institute plans to hold multiple meetings that will foster collaboration between aboriginal youth from fly-in communities and experts in youth justice and design thinking.
“I’m very excited about not just bringing the knowledge of the Winkler Institute to this project but learning a lot from other expertise, including the expertise of youth,” says Nicole Aylwin, assistant director of the Winkler Institute.
Man charged in death of off-duty police officer due in court for breach charges, Canadian Press
Teen boy expected to be sentenced in death of teen girl hit by stray bullet in Toronto, Canadian Press
Man charged with kidnapping after truck stolen with disabled man inside, Canadian Press
Immigrants fearing deportation pick guardians for U.S. children, Reuters
Former Utah attorney general acquitted in corruption case: media, Reuters
Samsung chief's 'trial of the century' to start next week, Reuters
Baby remains found at former home for unmarried mothers in Ireland, Reuters
Montreal police to question possible suspect in bomb threats at Concordia U., Canadian Press
SIU investigates shooting of male driver by police in Kitchener, Ont., Canadian Press
Halifax police look for two men accused of asking three girls to get in truck, Canadian Press
Democrats seek Sessions resignation after report of Russia contact, Reuters
Trump administration has only US$20 million to build wall: document, Reuters
New Trump travel order expected in coming days, Pence says, Reuters
EU lawmakers want to suspend visa-free travel for U.S. citizens, Reuters
Malaysia to cancel visa-free entry for North Koreans, Reuters
Suspected U.S. drone strike kills two in Pakistan near Afghan border: village elder, Reuters
“I find that this delay by the Crown in reaching a decision to withdraw the charges in May of 2016 was ‘a marked and unacceptable departure from the reasonable standards expected of the prosecution,’” wrote Justice R. Kwolek of the Ontario Court of Justice in a 28-page judgment released on February 13.
In R. v. Sayers, three members of the Batchewana First Nation were charged with logging on Crown land without the authority of a forest resource licence, contrary to the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, while the chief of the band, Dean Sayers, was charged with being a party to the logging. The defendants in the case maintained that the logging was within their established treaty rights, under the terms of the Robinson Treaty of 1950.
The first court appearance took place in November 2008, but the trial was not scheduled to begin until September 2015, at which time the defendants tendered not-guilty pleas. Defence counsel filed a Notice of Constitutional Question, arguing that the defendants’ use of their land was protected by s. 35 of The Constitution Act, and could not be limited by the Crown Forest Sustainability Act.
Jennifer Tremblay-Hall, a Sault Ste. Marie sole practitioner who defended three of those charged, engaged James Morrison, an ethno-historian and researcher, to prepare a report on the history of the Batchewana First Nation and their treaty agreements. That report was released in May 2014, and substantiated the band members’ claim that the Batchewana First Nation had the right to harvest timber resources for sustenance, trade or sale under the 1850 Robinson Treaty, which had likely not been extinguished under the 1859 Pennefather Treaty.
The process to get to trial was a long one “because that research has never really been done into that particular treaty,” Tremblay-Hall told Legal Feeds. “Of course, the Crown wanted to have their own expert retained.”
In May 2016, the Crown wrote to the court stating that it would not proceed with the prosecution and would be seeking leave to withdraw the charges, saying the prosecution was not in the public interest. The band members did not consent to the Crown withdrawing the charges because they wanted to address the issues of treaty and aboriginal rights.
The Crown did concede, though, that an award of costs would be fair and appropriate.
“This judge in this particular case said, clearly the Crown was aware of these complex issues, at least as early as 2009,” says Tremblay-Hall. “That’s why he came up with this elevated cost award” of $90,000 for one defendant, and $300,000 to be divided among the remaining three, including the band chief. “He didn’t buy into the Crown’s argument that they didn’t realize the complexity until they got [James Morrison’s] report in 2014.”
The Crown’s decision to wait so long to withdraw charges “prevented Batchewana from logging for eight years … At the last moment to say, ‘we’re not going to pursue this, you should really initiate a civil claim -- they could have done that in 2009, and said, listen, we’re not going to pursue this prosecution.
Justice R. Kwolek agreed. “This court finds that the Crown should have at the very least reassessed its position, once it received the expert’s report from the applicants, as to whether it should or should not pursue this prosecution,” he wrote. “It did not do so within a reasonable period of time [despite] considering its options by the summer of 2015.”
Tremblay-Hall calls the decision to award costs “very rare; I don’t think there’s one other case in Ontario where … a cost award of such magnitude has ever been awarded against the Ministry of Natural Resources for a prosecution.
“This decision breathes light and life into those documents that we’ve heard so much about in the last year of so,” she adds, referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, which contained a number of “calls to action,” and the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“This is another example of court saying, these documents mean something, they mean that you should be negotiating in in good faith. They’re not just words on a page.”
Indeed, wrote Justice Kwolek, “Proceedings, at least theoretically, relating to native land claims should be resolved, not with the threat of a pseudo-criminal proceeding outstanding hanging over the heads of the defendants, but in a spirit of negotiation and cooperation. Conversely, Counsel for the defendants argue that without an imminent threat or an impending crisis or a judicial decision that opens the door for First Nation commercial logging, such assurances are mere platitudes that do not result in any action.”
The judge noted that this case before the court did not provide an appropriate forum to settle treaty disputes, and that nation-to-nation dialogue should take place in order to reach resolution.
Niagara region man charged with trafficking drugs, including fentanyl, Canadian Press
Retired judge who oversaw RCMP probe to appear at Dunphy police shooting inquiry, Canadian Press
Calgary police treating death of woman outside bank as a homicide, Canadian Press
Trump tells Congress he's open to immigration reform, Reuters
Trump gives nod to Republican tax-credit proposal on Obamacare, Reuters
UN says both sides in Aleppo committed war crimes; Syria bombed convoy, Reuters
Women charged with North Korean's murder leave court in bullet-proof vests, Reuters
|Francois Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.|
“We’ve been on strike for a really long time. People are not getting paid at all, because we don’t have any money in the union funds,” he told Legal Feeds on Monday, but noted members are still committed to the strike.
“It’s not really about the money, it’s about our profession, so I’d say that people are really determined still, even though they are really angry the negotiations could not progress as much as we wanted, and of course, now that there is the legislation that is coming on, people are really, really angry,” he says.
Desroches Lapointe says members were under the impression for the past few months there was no special legislation in mind to force those on strike back to work.
“But, they completely changed their position about that last Thursday when the minister responsible for negotiations for the government announced in the media that they were making us a final offer on Thursday night, and we had 24 hours to respond to that offer,” he says.
Desroches Lapointe said after the offer was received, the union’s executive board responded with a counter-offer.
This past weekend, a negotiation meeting was scheduled, but Desroches Lapointe said the minister announced that special legislation would come before the National Assembly of Quebec to force strikers back to work. Debate over the issue was anticipated to occur at the assembly on Monday night, says Desroches Lapointe.
“. . .What is obvious that they are going to force us back to work because that’s what they announced,” says Desroches Lapointe.
“The main issue in the strike is that we want the recognition that our profession is particular , and if we need a different mode of negotiation than the traditional mode of negotiation, we want something that is non-conflictual, because every time we have to negotiate our work conditions, it’s really , really hard with Quebec’s government, and. . .the past experience is really negative,” he says.
A spokeswoman for Quebec’s Treasury Board President Pierre Moreau did not respond to a request for comment.
|Michael Thorburn holds the first published issue of the Osgoode Hall Law Journal (1958).|
“I thought I wasn’t deserving of any kind of recognition. My race has never crossed my mind when I execute my duties as managing editor,” says Thorburn, who was elected into his role last year by a senior board of students on the law journal. “But this is something that’s bigger and more important than how I might feel internally.”
The publication’s executive editor, Joe McDonald, recently stumbled upon information that Thorburn is the first black managing editor of the law journal.
“When he was elected, I figured that it’s 2016 so surely there’s been a black managing editor before,” says McDonald. “I mean, Barack Obama was the first black managing editor at Harvard [International Law Journal] in 1990, which was decades ago. I guess I just assumed it wasn’t an issue.”
The Osgoode Hall Law Journal has had other people of colour in leadership roles prior to Thorburn, such as editors of South Asian and Middle Eastern descents. According to Thorburn, he’s the only one who’s received recognition for his race in his role.
When asked why he thinks this may be the case, he said that perhaps it’s a reflection of expectations for black students. “Maybe black students have faced a rougher road in the history of Osgoode. I don’t know. But I look forward to the day when you don’t even have to write a piece in a magazine to commemorate a black managing editor because I want it to be normalized,” he says.
"It's through shining the light on the firsts that allows us to inspire the seconds, thirds, and fourths of tomorrow," he says. He concluded by saying that "by documenting these moments we can make our contribution to the history of Osgoode Hall Law School — hopefully students can look back on this a few decades from now, when progress has inched a little bit further, and point to it as significant."
Thorburn and McDonald agree that although it’s a step in the right direction for diversity, there’s more work that needs to be done.
“It’s not about diversity for diversity’s sake. It’s the idea that as a group or lawyers or as a bar, we can serve clients better if we have diversity amongst lawyers because you could understand things from different perspectives,” says McDonald. “I’m a very big proponent of diversity for the sake of better client service rather than because we can check the box that we have a black managing editor.”
Currently, the law journal doesn’t explicitly have a policy in effect for diversity when it comes to electing individuals for executive roles. But it does look for diverse candidates who bring fresh perspectives and different views on journal topics.
Thorburn says he couldn’t have done it without the support of the team, his friends and mentors.
New Brunswick man pleads guilty after video shows him mowing down man in parking lot, Canadian Press
Police say bad record keeping, not criminal activity, behind misplaced exhibits, Canadian Press
Appeals court will not put Trump travel ban case on hold, Reuters
Judge issues injunction against Pennsylvania district in transgender case, Reuters
Funeral held in India for engineer shot dead in Kansas, Reuters
|Lorne Sossin says reconciliation with Indigenous People and accessibility are top goals that have been identified for Osgoode Hall Law School.|
“On accessibility, we really saw it as something that is part of this outward focus of the law school, to really ensure we’re getting our financial barriers reduced to the extent we can, for ensuring our communities are inclusive, [that] no one’s pressed up against the window looking in on a great legal education if they want one and are eligible for one,” says Sossin.
The law school at York University has about 900 full-time students, 300 part-time graduate students and 100 to 150 full-time graduate students.
In the newest strategic plan unveiled last month, the school identified three goals it will continue to work on — community engagement, experiential education and research intensification. Now, the other two goals have been added, says Sossin.
“We saw accessibility and reconciliation through a really holistic lens as we added them to the list of those pillars on which we all stand,” says Sossin.
One of the ways the school is promoting accessibility is the Income Contingent Loan Program, which Sossin says is “far and away our most significant measure to counter” high debts and high tuitions.
The program is for students in the 10-year period following their graduation, and is designed so that a graduate pays back the debt in a way that reflects their income.
“[It] features students who get a loan from the law school to cover the entirety of their tuition — that’s a mixture of bursary and loan — and then the loan portion is repayable after they graduate, if their income is over $80,000 a year, and there’s some [income-measured payback] between $60,000 to $80,000, and if they make less than $60,000, the loan is forgiven in its entirety,” says Sossin.
Sossin says the program helps with addressing “career choice anxiety.”
“If [during] this debt, you can’t go and join an international human rights practise or do clinical work because you need a higher salary, this is a way in which the law school can have your back,” he says.
The program is available to five students in the graduating class of 2018 and another five in the graduating class of 2019, and was initially designed to cover 25 students in its five-year pilot. Sossin says the new strategic plan reflects hopes the program will grow.
“It’s an example of something that we felt we could do, and needed to do, to counter this status quo where tuition keeps going up, students keep going into more debt with credit lines, leads to more anxiety, more limits of career choice and limits, ultimately, who is going to come into the pool to apply for law school,” he says.
The school also has a flex-time initiative, which it describes as a way “to make the Law School more accessible to students who face barriers that make participation in the full- time Juris Doctor program difficult or impossible, such as work or care responsibilities, financial restrictions or health concerns.”
Tuition for domestic students doing their Juris Doctor was $24,995.98 in 2016-2017, and $25,820.98 for international students. Students must pay $977.42 in ancillary fees, as well.
The dean noted Osgoode is “not the most expensive law school in town.”
“[U of T] often gets a lot more of the press, negative and sometimes positive, around tuition, just because it’s at the forefront, and we’re not certainly far behind, second most expensive in the country, but it’s certainly a top of mind issue that helped drive our focus on accessibility. . .,” he says.
Subscribe to Legal Feeds
- Mallory Hendry
- Patricia Cancilla
- Gabrielle Giroday
- Elizabeth Raymer
- Alexia Kapralos
- Tim Wilbur
- Alex Robinson
- Jennifer Brown
- Karen Lorimer