Canada

Canada View From Up North As most of the world knows, last week a gunman shot and killed a Canadian soldier as he stood at his post near the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Corporal Nathan Cirillo was standing on guard in honour of his fallen brothers-in-arms when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau shot him with a 30-30 rifle at close range.

Hunters use 30-30s to kill moose.

As ordinary citizens tried heroically to save our soldier’s life, Zehaf-Bibeau rushed over to Parliament Hill, only a few blocks away, bent on destroying more lives. He died in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officers, thankfully before he could do further serious harm.

What a horrible day for Canada and an infinitely more horrible day for Corporal Cirillo’s family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers remain with his loved ones.

I apologize, because when a young soldier loses his life, politics should be the last thing on anybody’s mind. But, Corporal Cirillo’s death immediately turned political….

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Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas

Madam Justice A. Lori Douglas

You are obliged to see the pictures to come to a conclusion. You cannot simply ignore what it is that these images depict.

Suzanne Cote, independent counsel to the Canadian Judicial Council commission investigating Justice Lori Douglas, urging the commission members to view the nude photos of Justice Douglas [link is safe for work; just detailed descriptions of the images, not actual pictures]. Douglas’s lawyer, Sheila Block, objects to further viewing of the photographs and wants them destroyed.

Supreme Court SCOTUS photo by David Lat* Some observers do not appreciate the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent Delphic pronouncements on a slew of hot-button issues. [New York Times]

* The New York Court of Appeals does international banks a solid — but is it bad policy? [Reuters]

* Fired Canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi hires Dentons to sue CBC, which dismissed him over allegations of sexual misconduct. [American Lawyer]

* Is post-Citizens United money polluting judicial elections? [New York Times via How Appealing]

* An Englishman sues Sotheby’s, alleging that the auction house negligently failed to inform him that a painting he sold through Sotheby’s was by Caravaggio and worth millions. [BBC]

* If you’re a lawyer looking for extra income, check out Avvo’s new service, which offers consumers on-demand legal advice for a fixed fee. [Law Sites via ABA Journal]

* Is it reversible error for a judge to refuse to ask voir dire questions related to sexual-preference prejudices? [Southern District of Florida via How Appealing]


Canada View From Up North Many judges suffer from a grave condition called T.S.S. (Tightened Sphincter Syndrome). You don’t have to conduct an intimate examination of a judge’s nether regions to determine if he/she has T.S.S. You can pretty much guess from the symptoms: constant grumpiness, a dour expression, words chosen to make onlookers feel the immense gravity of court proceedings, decisions pronounced as if only a fool would dare appeal them, etc., etc.

Sadly, T.S.S. is not fatal, but it does make everyone who comes into contact with an infected judge feel flu-like symptoms.

Justice Joseph Quinn of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice does not suffer from T.S.S. Whatever the opposite of T.S.S. is, this dude (and I say “dude” with the highest respect) has it. Take this sentence from his epic ruling in The Hearing Clinic (Niagara Falls) Inc. v. 866073 Ontario Limited: “Fridriksson has taken everyone on a hideously time-consuming and obscenely expensive journey down his private yellow brick road to the outskirts of the Emerald City where, it appears, he has a residence. It was not a worthwhile adventure.”

Find me another judge who invokes The Wizard of Oz to stick a broomstick up a deserving plaintiff’s butt. This case is delicious for so many reasons….

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aging_ghost

[Plaintiff alleges he was extorted out of $90,000 on threat of] the defendant using the souls of the baby ghosts in the possession or control of the defendant to curse the plaintiff if he did not provide the funds.

– The complaint of Jian Liang Hu, filed in British Columbia by lawyer Mark B. Thompson. Jian claims he was blackmailed by spooky dead babies. I’d like to think dead baby souls have more on their agenda than settling scores for unscrupulous businesspeople. Like watching Frozen 10 times a day like live babies do.

Africa LF* “There’s too much at stake—too much money and interest.” Biglaw firms in West Africa are surviving, nay, thriving, despite the fact that the area is afflicted by the terrors of Ebola. [Am Law Daily]

* “[T]ake a step back, to pause to consider, I hope, a change of course.” The head of the FBI is pissed about cell encryption, and he wants tech companies to cut it out with this privacy stuff. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has a new chief financial officer. At Pittsburgh’s third-largest firm, the former litigation practice director could really make a name for himself. [Pittsburgh Business Times]

* Former employees — even lawyers — of the recently failed Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie are filing suit, seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay. Good luck with that, eh? [Globe and Mail]

* According to NY AG Eric Schneiderman, 72% of Airbnb rental sites in New York City are operating illegally. This is going to be problematic for those who enjoy the services of faux hotels. [New York Times]

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) is the prime industry group for Canadian lawyers coast to coast. In essence the CBA is an advocacy group that also provides its members with continuing legal education and networking opportunities. It has 37,000 members, so it speaks for a lot of Canadian lawyers.

Let’s move half a world south to the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador. An energy giant, Chevron, apparently caused a bit of nuisance there. The indigenous villagers in the region sued Texaco (which Chevron subsequently purchased) for causing extensive pollution and won a local judgement for $9.51 billion. I haven’t taken a trip to Lago Agrio, but I suspect from the size of the judgement we aren’t talking about a few puffs of black smoke.

The plaintiffs are now chasing Chevron’s assets all over the world, including Ontario. Chevron hath protested with vehemence that its Ontario assets should not be at risk. The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last year that the Ecuadorian plaintiffs “deserve to have the recognition and enforcement of the Ecuadorian judgment heard on the merits” in Ontario. Thus, the C.A. has at least opened the door for the plaintiffs to realize on Chevron’s Ontario property in satisfaction of the multi-billion dollar judgement. Here’s the shocker: Chevron has appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.

This is where the CBA comes in….

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* Thanks to a partner from K&L Gates, victims of revenge porn will be able to rely upon the assistance of the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project to guide them through the courts pro bono. [National Law Journal]

* The latest Princeton Review rankings are out, and now you can find out if you attend a law school that has some of the best professors in the country. Spoiler alert: Yale Law isn’t No. 1. [Huffington Post]

* Calling all lawyers and law students! If you bought a Red Bull in the past 12 years to get through an all-nighter, then you’ll be able to make some quick cash from this class action settlement. [BuzzFeed]

* It seems Madam Justice Lori Douglas, the Canadian judge whose nude pictures were leaked online, is no longer facing sexual harassment charges. That must be nice for her, all things considered. [CBC News]

* Per federal prosecutors, if you’re not too high to suck at playing games on Xbox, then you’re not too high to forget about friends of the accused Boston bomber removing evidence from your room. [Bloomberg]

* Adrian Peterson’s felony child abuse trial is supposed to begin in December, but it could be delayed because the judge may have to recuse. That’s what happens when you call lawyers “media whores.” [CNN]

One thing I remember best from law school. Professor Ron Delisle said, “Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.” It’s a bit of an unwieldy sentence, but it encompasses some of the most important concepts in a free society.

Like rule of law. No one is above the law.

Like transparency and independence within our justice system. Our trials are, for the most part, held in open court. We have appellate courts to review the work of judges below them. The Prime Minister can’t tell even the lowest judge how to rule on a case.

Like freedom of the press, which provides oversight and an independent voice to challenge those in power who abuse the system.

The system isn’t perfect, but it works pretty darn well most of the time.

Let me ask, how does a country built around those lofty concepts allow lawyers to regulate lawyers?

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What the hell is going on here?

Canadians are generally a friendly lot. At least, when they aren’t building anti-gay law schools or talking about their Stanley Cup drought (21 years and counting). So it was more than a little bit startling to see the latest cover from Canadian Lawyer magazine going all Birth of a Nation on us.

The prominent legal publication featured a cover story about the lack of diversity on the Canadian bench. Unfortunately, the cover image they used did a much better job demonstrating why there might be race problems in Canada. Great White North indeed.

And bizarrely, the magazine hasn’t apologized for its cover despite the controversy it’s sparked….

(Please note the UPDATE added below.)

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