Gail J. Cohen
While our plan is to focus on odd decisions with the Weird Case of the Week, this motion could not go by unremarked.
Thanks to Chris Jaglowitz (@chrisjaglowitz), a Toronto condo lawyer with Gardiner MIller Arnold, for his tweet alerting us to this case on the docket for Justice Peter Cumming at the courthouse at 330 University Ave. in Toronto for tomorrow. His tweet describes it thusly: "Here's the door sheet for some guy's lawsuit vs the whole world. Waste of judges' time and precious court resources."
|A greater focus on technology and strong leadership from the judiciary are both key to improving access to civil justice. (Photo: Gail J. Cohen)|
“The role of technology is an important feature of the committee’s thinking,” says Trevor Farrow, chairman of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice who participated in the creation of the reports.
Technology is seen as a way to make the system more fair, just, efficient, and streamlined, Farrow tells Legal Feeds. While there are strides being made in some provinces, Canadian courts generally lag behind those in other developed nations.
“It is trite to say that technology is changing the world," notes the report on court processes. “While lawyers and judges are working hard to keep up, it is not very controversial to say that, as a general matter, courts and the legal profession have some work to do to catch up to the current technology movement.”
Suggestions for improved technology in the courts include creating interactive court forms, developing and encouraging the development of e-filing and e-courts, and encouraging teleconferencing and videoconferencing, particularly in remote areas.
But the reports also suggest access to legal information to better inform citizens — who should be the primary focus of all access to justice initiatives — of their rights and obligations can be relatively easily achieved through more online legal information.
“The key justice system stakeholders in each Province and Territory should collaborate to explore and realize the access to justice benefits of web-based legal services and on-line dispute resolution models,” says the report on access to legal services.
Online information can be the basis for public legal education and information initiatives that are particularly important with the growing number of self-represented litigants in the courts. Providing them with solid legal information up front will benefit not only those who don’t have legal representation but the whole court system as unrepresented litigants will be better able to manage their cases.
While the reports laud changes already underway in many areas, there is still some way to go to make the civil justice system responsive to those who use and need it.
Primarily in the courts, there needs to be a “culture shift.” And judges must be at the forefront of that shift and be active in sharing changes and improvements with judges in other courts and jurisdictions.
“Judges in this country have a high degree of respect from the public and stakeholders in the justice system,” says Farrow.
That level of respect gives them great power to pull the system back or move it forward, he says. But being the trenches every day, judges know what is happening and many have good ideas for ways to make the sytem better.
The report suggest some examples of leadership initiatives
- Judges and court staff should actively work together to find ways of improving communication to deal with specific problem areas or issues that are in need of reform (scheduling, trial management, document management, etc.).
- Positive examples of public engagement and public education by judges (and court staff) should be encouraged in order to “speak out for justice” (including at new judge ceremonies, opening of the court ceremonies, at schools, colleges and universities, etc.).
- Internal initiatives, potentially including annual awards and/or other forms of recognition for staff ideas in the area of improving court performance, should be considered and welcomed.
But it is not just up to the courts. Every player in the system can have a role to play from the government, to lawyers, social services, the courts, and others.
“We see need for change all along the justice continuum,” says Farrow.
Asked if he thought these reports would end up sitting on the shelf collecting dust like so many others on improving the civil justice system, Farrow says he’s optimistic that substantial change is on the way.
“Now, I think there’s more a national discussion than ever before,” he says. “People are really starting to take seriously the need for change.”
He notes the push is coming from Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin down through the whole justice system and beyond. “It is so broadly based, it has wide support across the country and deeply within the system.”
All four reports from the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters are available on the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice’s web site.
|Justice Morris Fish will officially leave the Supreme Court on Aug. 31.|
“Justice Fish has served on the court with wisdom, and made enormous contributions to the court and to Canada,” McLachlin said in a statement this afternoon. “He is a wonderful colleague and friend who will be greatly missed.”
For his part, Fish said, “By the date of my planned retirement, I will have served my country as a justice of its highest courts for nearly a quarter century — including more than 10 years on the Supreme Court of Canada. I am grateful to have enjoyed this privilege and mindful of the honour and public trust that attach to the holding of judicial office in Canada.”
Ottawa lawyer and long-time Supreme Court agent Eugene Meehan commented on Fish's announcement: “In Canada’s national court he always stuck his juridical neck out for the little guy – Canada’s best defence judge has now ‘gone fishing.'"
Fish reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 this fall, and the other Quebec SCC judge, Louis LeBel, has to retire next year. The Supreme Court Act required that three of the nine judges on the court come from Quebec.
Fish was appointed to the Supreme Court bench on Aug. 5, 2003, after serving over 14 years as a judge of the Quebec Court of Appeal and a distinguished career as an educator and criminal lawyer in Montreal. He was the first Quebec Anglophone appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada since Douglass Abbott in the 1950s and was the first Jewish Supreme since former chief justice Bora Laskin. He succeeded retired SCC justice Charles Gonthier.
Upon his appointment to the top court in 2003, then chief justice of the Quebec Court of Appeal Michel Robert noted to Law Times: “[Fish] has a passion for defending the rights of the accused, though he’s not always in favour of the accused’s rights. I think he’s got some equilibrium and balance.”
Update: 5:01 pm. Comments from Meehan.
|‘Now is the time, I suggest, for all of us to wake up, speak up, and shake up,’ says B.C Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman.|
He went on to say: “The willingness of government and the public to abandon lawyers and the courts as the dispute resolvers of choice is startling and disturbing.
“As a profession if we are not accessible and accountable and importantly, seen to be, we risk the possibility of losing all relevance.”
He also said: “Now is the time, I suggest, for all of us to wake up, speak up, and shake up.
- Wake up to the realities of these challenges;
- Speak up about our value and our critical relevance in the lives of ordinary Canadians; and
- Shake up our attitudes towards lawyering.”
Luka Magnotta preliminary inquiry begins, Toronto Star
Shaw breaks employment contract, CBC
Calgary group takes action to protect children from predators in sport, Calgary Herald
Jury reaches verdict in Detroit corruption trial, Reuters
Manhattan judge proposes scrapping white collar sentencing guidelines, Reuters
Kenyan Supreme Court promises fair trial in election results challenge, Reuters
Lawyer suspects ‘foul play’ in death of Delhi gang rape suspect, Reuters
“The marketing and business development talent in our community is tremendous. We were blown away by the number of entries in each category, and looking forward to seeing how our program evolves in the years to come," said outgoing chapter president Lindsay Everrit.
Awards were given out in four categories.
Advertising: The winner was Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP for its “A Law Unto Ourselves” student recruitment campaign. The WeirFoulds team received an honourable mention for its print campaign.
Online presence: The winner was Osler Hoskin & Harcourt for its “Osler’s Capital Markets Review” campaign.
Practice development: Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP won in this category for its entry entitled “Food, Beverage & Agribusiness Industry Group.”
Rising star: Nominees in this category for legal marketers with less than 10 years in the business included Rachel Collins, marketing technology specialist at Goodmans; Erin Neumann, marketing manager at Goldman Sloan Nash & Haber LLP; and Shaila Pirani-Freitas, manager of programs and events at WeirFoulds. Rachel Collins was the winner and was presented with her award by Joanne Rossi, vice president practice lead of IQ Partners.
Photos: Gail J. Cohen
Nicole Miles, senior marketing manager at Cassels Brock, (left) accepts the advertising award from Karen Lorimer, director and group publisher of Canadian Lawyer magazine.
Susan Elliot of Osler (right) accepts the award for online presence from Lindsay Everitt, outgoing LMA Toronto Chapter president and director of marketing and communications at Goodmans.
On behalf of the team from Blakes, Tamara Costa (centre) accepted the practice development award from Kelly Smith, legal recruitment consultant with Marsden Group (left) and Samantha Graveney, LMA Toronto Chapter president (right).
Rising Star winner Rachel Collins, a marketing technology specialist at Goodmans, (left) with her award and colleague Lindsay Everitt.
|Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck and Senior Judge Michael Baylson at Legal Tech. (Photo: Gail J. Cohen)|
While large chunks of the discussion centred on U.S. rules and practices, they did share opinions of value to anyone involved in litigation and looking to manage costs and data. Here are a few of their tips.
- When fighting a request from plaintiffs to provide more discovery, especially in the pre-certification stages of a class action, defendants should provide judges with very specific, fact-based affidavits as to what the costs of providing the requested documents would be. Don’t throw out numbers that aren’t supported by facts or simply argue that the requests are overbroad or burdensome.
- When there are disputes over discovery costs, judges may not really appreciate or understand what the case is worth. Defendants need to make clear the reality of their exposure. Sometimes there are obvious dollar amounts but where there are societal values (such as in labor discrimination cases), counsel need to present appropriate information to the court.
- “Bring your geek to court day” is sometimes necessary because it’s the e-discovery experts who both understand the technology and get to the heart of how and what it will cost to “right-size” e-discovery. Those experts will be of enormous assistance to the judge.
- Follow Sedona guidelines on proportionality. Peck says some of the most costly disputes arise from Mickey Mouse problems like lawyers not returning each other’s calls. Co-operation, be it called that or the “strategic release of documents” if your clients aren’t keen on “co-operating,” can keep costs down dramatically. And every client wants that.
- Discovery doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be fair. That requires quite a lot of education for both lawyers and judges in issues surrounding e-discovery.
- The best way for companies to save money on e-discovery costs is to have a records management program in place — “get rid of all the ‘let’s go to lunch e-mails.’” If your information house is in order at all times, it will end up being a lot cheaper when and if you ever end up in e-discovery.
- Judges tend to focus only on the case right in front of them. It’s up to lawyers to educate judges on the number of cases their clients are facing each year, which will help them understand the overall impact of the costs of discoveries and other litigation-related matters.
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the County of Carleton Law Association celebrated its 125th anniversary with a splashy celebration at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.
Photos: Robin Grant
Ashley Deathe and Raymond Murray from Nelligan O’Brien Payne, Alexandra Murray of Health Canada, and Megan Murphy also from Nelligan O’Brien.
Douglas and Ulle Baum from Addelman Baum and Gilbert LLP.
Eugene Meehan of Supreme Advocacy and Superior Court Justice Giovanna Roccamo. Meehan sported traditional Scottish dress with a sporran that is over 100 years old. Roccamo wore a Fred Perlberg 1952 vintage dress.
Ted Mann from Mann & Partners at the podium sang a little jingle about the CCLA at the beginning of the dinner.
The Ottawa bar celebrates 125 years of the Carleton County Law Association.
President-elect Alan McBride and CCLA president Jaye Hooper hosted the evening. They spoke about topics such as CCLA's history and the importance of women in law.
David Thompson, Cheryl Hess, and Jim McIninch from Bell Baker, and Paul McEnery and his wife Nancy from Williams McEnery.
Sarah Saad of Rasmussen Starr Ruddy with her boyfriend Harry Baas, and Angela McLaughlin also from Rasmussen enjoy cocktails early in the evening.
Shahana Khan, a sole practitioner, and Susan Richer from Richer & Richer.
CCLA president Jaye Hooper, Nicol Girard, and CCLA president-elect Alan McBride
Justice Robert Maranger and Thomas Windle from the Windle Law Firm enjoy a laugh prior to the CCLA 125th Anniversary dinner.
Toronto sees increase in shooting deaths for 2012, Toronto Star
Immigration consultant guilty of 54 charges, Montreal Gazette
Employer wins relief from U.S. contraceptives mandate, Reuters
Court to decide if theme parks are liable for thrill ride injuries, Los Angeles Times
Japan's casino tycoon bet on Philippines fixer, Reuters
Apple loses another copyright lawsuit in China, Reuters
|Louise Charron (Photo: Colin Rowe)|
Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Retired Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Charron was elevated to the highest level of companion of the Order of Canada for her contributions as a noted jurist and for her commitment to French common-law education. Charron was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in August 2004 and retired on Aug. 30, 2011. Originally from Sturgeon Falls, Ont., Charron was a Crown attorney and went on to teach in the French common law section of the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law for 10 years before her first appointment to the bench in Ontario in 1988.
|Phil Fontaine (Photo: Max Rossi/Reuters)|
Ken Dryden, who holds a law degree but is substantially more well known for his stellar career as an NHL goaltender, was elevated to the level of officer of the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian life in hockey, law, writing and politics, notably as a champion of literacy and the prevention of sports-related brain injuries. Before becoming a hockey legend, Dryden attended law school at the University of Manitoba and, later, at McGill University, where he obtained his LLB. In the middle of his career with the Montreal Canadiens, Dryden shocked everyone by quitting and heading off to Osler Hoskin and Harcourt in Toronto to do his articling. But he was back to hockey glory the next year. He later went on to be elected as an MP in Ottawa.
Former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine has been honoured for his contributions on behalf of First Nations, notably his role in the resolution of claims arising from the Indian residential schools issue. Fontaine is now a special adviser with Norton Rose Canada LLP on First Nations matters, including aboriginal law, energy, environmental and mining and resources. He advises clients in all the firm’s offices, including Calgary.
McGill University law professor Roderick Alexander Macdonald has been named an officer for his accomplishments as a legal scholar, notably his contributions to the advancement of law and policy in Canada and abroad. He is the F.R. Scott Professor of Constitutional and Public Law at McGill and was the law dean from 1984 to 1989. He chaired a Task Force on Access to Justice of the Ministère de la justice du Québec (1989-91), and has been a consultant to the Bouchard-Taylor Commission (2007-2008), the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1991-1992), to the Ontario Civil Justice Review and to the Federal Department of Justice on the interaction of federal law and the Civil Code of Québec. He is currently the co-commissioner of Quebec’s the Charbonneau Commission, which is examining allegations of corruption in the construction industry.
Rebecca J. Cook of Toronto has been named a member of the Order of Canada for her achievements as a legal scholar on issues of women’s rights, sexual health and reproductive law. She is a professor in the Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine and the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto; and Co-Director, International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme and University of Toronto.
Fred V. Martin, a lawyer who splits his time between Salt Spring Island, B.C. and Edmonton, Alta., has been honoured for his long engagement in support of equal rights, notably his work helping the Métis Settlements General Council achieve self-governance. He told the Edmonton Journal that he will take the order to the Métis Settlements General Council office after he receives it, so it can be displayed there.
|Linda Silver Dranoff|
“That’s where it belongs,” he told the newspaper. “I think of it more as a recognition of a team than as an individual.”
Toronto family lawyer Linda Silver Dranoff has been recognized for her work as a lawyer, writer, and activist helping to advance the discipline of family law. Dranoff has represented clients in precedent-setting cases, including the first Supreme Court of Canada case to give Ontario wives a share of family investments, and the first to expand spousal support rights to take account of benefits, bonuses and changes in the cost-of-living. She was the founding chairwoman of the Ontario Bar Association’s Feminist Legal Analysis Section.
The full list of appointments is here.
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Gail J. Cohen