Wednesday: What’s Hot on CanLII

slaw - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 06:00

Each Wednesday we tell you which three English-language cases and which French-language case have been the most viewed* on CanLII and we give you a small sense of what the cases are about.

For this last week:

1. Yetman v. Marzec, 2014 ONSC 4624

[9] The overarching answer to these three factors comes about by asking the question: Why did this trial, which generated the significant costs claimed, occur?

[10] The Defendant driver, Mr. Marzec, did not participate. The Statutory Third Party denies coverage to that driver, an issue that has not yet been determined. The Statutory Third Party’s total obligation, if denial is justified, under sections 258 and 251 of The Insurance Act would be $200,000. However there were two claimants for the this fund and the Statutory Third Party settled with the other one, Mr. Goodman for half, leaving only $100,000 for the Plaintiff to access. The Plaintiff settled his contest with Mr. Goodman for the above mentioned $25,000.

2. R. v. Javier, 2014 ONCJ 361

[9] The Court in Michael considered the case of an impecunious aboriginal offender who was being sentenced on nine relatively minor summary conviction offences. The cumulative amount of his victim surcharges would have been $900 if no fines had been imposed as part of his sentence. The Court found, however, that as it could choose to impose nominal fines in addition to jail or probation for Mr. Michael, the victim surcharge did not constitute cruel or unusual punishment in his particular circumstances. In other words, the judge found that it was open to him to impose a fine of as little as one dollar on each count, reducing the victim surcharge to virtually nothing. However, when the judge considered a hypothetical situation (as he was required to do under the s. 12 Charter analysis as set out in Nur) of an offender in a slightly different situation from Mr. Michael he found that a judge who was required to sentence an offender on multiple counts to both jail and probation would be prevented from imposing a fine and would therefore have to impose the statutory amount of $100 in victim surcharges for each offence, for a total of $900. The Court found that the imposition of $900 in victim surcharges would be cruel and unusual punishment and therefore declared s. 737 of the Code to be of no force or effect.

[10] The application judge in Michael did a thorough and detailed review of the law. I find, however, that I cannot agree with his conclusion that the mandatory victim surcharge in s. 737 is cruel and unusual punishment that is in breach of the Charter. I am of the view that there is sufficient flexibility available to a sentencing judge to avoid undue harshness in the application of this section.

3. Wyman v. Kadlec, 2014 ONSC 4710

[25] It is conceded that the plaintiff is not an employee. He argues that he was a dependent contractor and as such was entitled to notice of termination of between 6 – 9 months, which should be extended to 12 months given the circumstances of the termination.

[26] Around 2004, Mr. Wyman set up Northwest Resort Management, a sole proprietorship. He said that it was created so that he could deduct the costs for his truck as a business expense. Mr. Wyman would have been about 55 years old by then based on his age of 65 at the time of trial. The plaintiff managed Bush Lake from June of 2004 until September of 2008 when he was terminated by the defendants. He testified that he could have worked managing other resorts, though he never did.

[27] The Court of Appeal discussed the distinctions between employees, dependent and independent contractors in McKee v. Reid’s Heritage Homes Ltd., 2009 ONCA 916 (CanLII), 2009 ONCA 916. At para 22, the court held that case law has developed an intermediate category of dependent contractor, defined by economic dependency in the work relationship, which requires reasonable notice for termination. The need for notice has been held to arise out of a high level of exclusivity or complete exclusivity in the work: para. 25.

The most-consulted French-language decision was Corporation Makivik c. Québec (Procureure générale), 2014 QCCA 1455

[87] À mon avis, en l’espèce, le ministre a commis trois manquements au processus convenu. Deux sont d’ailleurs admis par le procureur général et le troisième n’est pas soulevé clairement pas les parties appelantes.

[88] D’abord, le 17 mars 2011, le ministre a annoncé une date d’ouverture de la chasse aux caribous de la rivière aux Feuilles choisie unilatéralement, sans en discuter au préalable avec le Comité conjoint. De plus, le ministre n’a même pas daigné informer les représentants des peuples autochtones des préoccupations reçues des pourvoiries entre son annonce du 25 février et celle du 17 mars, invoquées par lui pour modifier cette date. Finalement, la date annoncée fait fi d’une résolution antérieure du Comité conjoint, de surcroît adoptée par le vote de ses représentants. Bref, un revirement de la position ministérielle, le genre de situation où la Convention fait clairement obligation de consulter le Comité conjoint, puisque cela ne constituait pas une modification d’ordre mineur au sens de l’al. 24.4.37, tel que le démontrent les déclarations sous serment produites par les parties appelantes et comme l’a conclu la juge de première instance.

[89] On peut aisément retenir que les représentants autochtones au Comité conjoint, mis au fait des demandes des pourvoyeurs et de la nouvelle proposition du ministre, auraient tenté de faire valoir des arguments différents et même proposé une ou plusieurs autres solutions.

* As of January 2014 we measure the total amount of time spent on the pages rather than simply the number of hits; as well, a case once mentioned won’t appear again for three months.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Transactional legal hackathon, NYC: Code the Deal: September 19-21, 2014

Legal Informatics Blog - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 05:11

Code the Deal: A Transactional Legal Tech Hackathon is scheduled to be held 19-21 September 2014 in New York City.

Here is a description from New York Legal Hackers, one of the organizers of the event:

[...] Code the Deal is a hackathon that will take place on September 19 to 21, 2014, at Dev Bootcamp‘s NYC financial district campus.

Participants will compete to create tech-enabled products that will improve transactional legal practice–tools that aid in counseling businesses through the legal and regulatory hurdles of consummating a sale or purchase. We believe that this is a huge, untapped market for entrepreneurship. Join us as we build some amazing products and compete for generous prizes.

More info at: http://codethedeal.com

Find teammates and projects at: https://www.hackerleague.org/hackathons/code-the-deal

[...]

What’s at Stake?

Grand Prize: $2500

Second Prize: $1000

Third Prize: $500

[...]

For more details, please see the event Website or the Hacker League site.

HT New York Legal Hackers


Filed under: Applications, Conference Announcements, Hackathons, Hacking, Technology developments, Technology tools Tagged: Code the Deal, Code the Deal: A Transactional Legal Tech Hackathon, Legal hackathons, Legal hacking events, New York Legal Hackers, Transactional legal information systems, Transactional Legal Tech Hackathon
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Hagan: Applications invited for: Access to Justice Design Sprint

Legal Informatics Blog - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 04:54

Margaret Hagan of Stanford University has posted Access to Justice Design Sprint, at the Program for Legal Tech + Design.

Here are excerpts from the post:

Are you a User Experience or Interface designer with an interest in public service? Do you want to use your design skills to help millions of Californians get better access to legal help? [...]

Stanford Law School & d.school are holding an Access to Justice Design Sprint — to redesign the California Courts’ official website that provides self-help resources to any Californian who wants to understand & resolve their legal problems. The website has millions of visitors every year, searching for help with their legal challenges. The Court’s staff & IT team are partnering with us to redesign how their large collection of self-help resources can be designed for more people to access, in a more user-friendly & engaging way.

We invite you to apply to join the working group of designers & legal experts that will develop new designs for the site. If you are not located in the Bay Area, we still invite you to apply to work with us remotely. [...]

To apply or for more information, please see the complete post.

For more resources related to this project, please see the comments to this post.

HT @legaltechdesign


Filed under: Applications, Projects Tagged: Access to justice and legal information systems, Access to justice and technology, California courts, California judiciary, Court information systems, Court Websites, Design of legal information systems, Design of self-help legal resources, Judicial information systems, Legal design, Legal information design, Legal information resources for self-represented litigants, Legal information services for self-represented litigants, Margaret Hagan, Program for Legal Technology and Design, Self-help legal resources, Technology for access to justice
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

That’s Not #Funny: Higher Ed’s Least Clever Twitter Accounts

The Chronicle Wired Campus - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 03:56

Earlier this month, a puckish Twitter user going by the handle @ProfJeffJarvis managed to provoke two actual professors into fits of outrage.

Rurick Bradbury, the technology entrepreneur who runs the account, has been sending up the jargon of contemporary “thinkfluencers” since 2012, amassing 11,000 followers. He named the account after Jeff Jarvis, a writer and professor at the City University of New York’s journalism school, although the object of Mr. Bradbury’s satire is not necessarily Mr. Jarvis but a wider culture of new-media seers.

Tweeting in character, Mr. Bradbury got into a scrape with Nassim N. Taleb, a writer and professor of risk engineering at New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering—and then with Mr. Jarvis himself, who said Mr. Bradbury “crossed a line” by imperiling his reputation in the eyes of Mr. Taleb.

We hunted around for other Twitter accounts that make fun of highly visible figures in higher education. Our search turned up a handful of parodies, mostly duds. It seems as if higher education is either not very good at producing satire-worthy figures or not very good at skewering them.

One of the telltale signs of an unsuccessful Twitter account is the ratio of tweets to followers. Here are a few unfortunate attempts to speak truth while dissembling as power.

Faux Cary Nelson

Cary Nelson, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, used to lead the American Association of University Professors. Mr. Nelson recently made headlines by defending his university’s decision to withdraw a job offer to a scholar who had made controversial remarks about Israeli politics on social media. Faux Cary Nelson writes self-incriminating tweets about his own political motivations. The parody account has 106 tweets and 50 followers.

FakeBabsBeno

I don’t see how appointing an ACCJC-recommended consultant who is paid for that consultant work to judge ACCJC is a conflict of interest.

— FakeBabsBeno (@FakeBabsBeno) June 26, 2014

 

Barbara A. Beno is the president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. FakeBabsBeno tweets almost exclusively about the agency’s showdown with the Community College of San Francisco. The fake account has 319 tweets and 17 followers.

Fake Wallace Loh

To apologize for the security breach, I have become Batman and am personally assassinating anyone with a computer

— Fake Wallace Loh (@FakeWallaceLoh) February 25, 2014


Wallace Loh is the president of the University of Maryland at College Park. Fake Wallace Loh tweets what appear to be random excerpts from the inner monologue of an undergraduate. The account has 5,367 tweets and 2,895 followers.

Several successful parody accounts dedicated to specific college presidents have ceased tweeting, or do so only occasionally. Some have been shut down at the behest of university officials.

The more popular satire accounts in higher education do not focus on particular officials. These include versions of the “hulk” personae that have cropped up to goof on various tribes, academic and otherwise, using brute exclamations styled in all-caps.

CORPORATE-EDUCATIONAL COMPLEX DEVELOPED PERFECT ADJUNCT!!! HULK WORK CHEAP!! HULK NEVER TIRE!!! HULK NOT COMPLAIN IN WAY ADMIN UNDERSTAND!!!

— ADJUNCT HULK (@AdjunctHulk) July 25, 2013

 

There is also The Journal of BS, an account dedicated to amusing titles of journal articles both real and imagined.

“TURN DOWN FOR WATTS: What Lil’ Jon Can Teach Us about Air Conditioning and Energy Conservation”

— The Journal of BS (@AcademicTitles) June 3, 2014

 

Inexplicably, one of the most popular higher education-themed humor accounts is one that relies the least on language. Lego Academics stages snapshots of university life using Lego figurines and straightforward captions. It has gained 21,300 followers since it started tweeting earlier this month.

Dr Brown’s conference papers always go WAY over time…and she just READS them. Wake up moderator! pic.twitter.com/M8VuUJJusG

— Lego Academics (@LegoAcademics) August 9, 2014

 

Earlier this year, Todd Levitt, a criminal defense lawyer and former adjunct professor at Central Michigan University, discovered he had a doppelganger on Twitter, Todd Levitt 2.0. It turned out to be the creation of the adult son of another professor at the university. Mr. Levitt sued.

“Defendant tweeted, ‘What’s the difference between the internet and my tweeted legal advice? A: None. They’re both 100% accurate!” wrote Mr. Levitt’s attorneys in a court complaint.

Q: What’s the difference between the internet and my tweeted legal advice? A: None. They’re both 100% accurate!

— Todd Levitt 2.0 (@levittlawyer) April 16, 2014

 

“Plaintiff, Todd Levitt, has never provided legal advice after merely conducting a simple internet search,” his lawyers explained. “His legal expertise and the information he provides his clients is a result of over twenty years of experience as an attorney.”

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

“Sympathies” Alone Insufficient to Form Terrorist Plot

slaw - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 20:08

An Ontario pathologist who was arrested on terrorism charges was acquitted today in R. v. Sher.

Dr. Khurrum Sher, a graduate of McGill University who was working at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital in St. Thomas, Ont., visited the home of his co-accused on July 20, 2010. During this visit, his host and another guest engaged in a protracted discussion about violent terrorist activity.

The accused was present throughout the discussion, did not appear to vigorously object to their plans, and at its conclusion appears to pledge his allegiance to them. He was friends with the host of the home, and shared an interest in sports and geopolitical issues with him. But he had only met the other person present on this single occasion, and never met him again following.

The police fortunately had the other parties under surveillance, including over 80,000 interceptions, and there was no dispute about their involvement with the plot. Justice Hackland applied R. v. Carter[1982]1 SCR 938 to admit the surveillance under the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule,

For a conspiracy trial that involves three or more conspirators, at the first stage of the trial, the Crown must establish the existence of the conspiracy charged. At the second stage, the Crown must establish probable membership of the accused in the conspiracy. At the third stage, the Crown must establish actual membership of the accused in the conspiracy.

[as described in R. v. Chang, [2008] B.C.J. No. 322 at para 364]

 

A conspiracy can exist even where fixed objectives and specific times are lacking, as long as they agree on an objective. The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in R. v. Khawaja, [2012] 3 SCR 555, required motive to create the requisite mental element for terrorism charges.

The main question was the role of the physician who was present in this home on this single instance while these discussions transpired. The credibility of this physician was the central issue for the case. The accused’s credibility was assessed in light of R. v. W. (D.), [ 1991] 1 S.C.R. 742 and R. v. Cyr, 2012 ONCA 919.

Justice Hackland carefully reviewed the evidence detailing the relationship of accused with the parties. He rejected the accused’s position that the meeting was incidental and intended to provide consolation for the host’s mother who had recently deceased. He rejected the accused’s position that he did not have an interest in violent terrorism. He also rejected the accused’s evidence about the meeting in question.

Where Justice Hackland did give pause is where the accused claimed he did not genuinely or sincerely intend to join the group or have future dealings with them.

However, Justice Hackland made much about the protracted nature of the conversation, and the fact that the accused was very tired due to travel prior to the meeting,

[48] … In my view it would not have been inconsistent with the tenor and content of this 80 minute meeting for the accused to have said at its conclusion that he would like to give further thought to whether he would participate in the council group… As of this point as the meeting concluded, there was no plan of action for the group and no associated timing for any activities… The important question arises as to whether the accused seriously considered or indeed had time to reflect on what he was being asked to agree to…

Justice Hackland scrutinized the accused’s subsequent conduct to try to glean his motives. He did not make any critical comments following about the meeting or the parties involved, but emphasized the complete lack of communication between the accused and the parties following. Justice Hackland rejected the Crown’s submission that the meeting consisted of a prior statement inconsistent with the testimony of the accused at trial,

[57] The Crown argues that it is an ‘inexorable conclusion’ that the accused is a skillful liar. “Either he lied throughout the meeting on July 20, 2010 or he lied throughout his testimony in this trial. The two versions of events are utterly irreconcilable. One or the other must be a lie”. I do not accept that this is the only possible view of the matter. It is open to the Court to disbelieve the accused on substantial parts of his testimony and yet entertain a reasonable doubt as to an essential component of the offense such as the requisite mens rea, which in this case is the genuine intention to agree to join a conspiracy. Not every extremist sympathizer or mujahedeen supporter is necessarily prepared to join a group contemplating violence in Canada
[emphasis added]

Justice Hackland commented at para 73 on the accused’s demeanor, who appeared “quite naive, immature and inarticulate” despite being an intelligent physician, and was the “type of person who would “go with the flow” and avoid debate or confrontation while a guest in the home of someone who should otherwise have been confronted.” He said,

[74] I think it is a legitimate question to ask in this case whether the accused, a medical doctor, someone dedicated to the preservation of human life, and with a track record of humanitarian involvement, raised in this country and enjoying the finest education and opportunities anywhere, would so readily sign onto a group planning potential terrorist activities in Canada without any careful consideration or reflection…

He contrasted this with the co-conspirator who was a guest in the home, described as a “fanatical individual living in a bubble” and “obsessed with religious extremism and violence, to the exclusion of any community involvement or any other constructive activity.” Unfortunately there have been several cases internationally of physicians involved in terrorism, so this reasoning does not seem particularly persuasive.

The accused did not have a proven history of involvement with terrorism, and Justice Hackland had a reasonable doubt over whether the accused sincerely or genuinely intended to join the group. Although the lack of timing or stated goals did not prevent the creation of a conspiracy, it did make the inference that the accused intended to participate in a plot far less likely.

The accused did give money to the host of the house prior to the meeting, presumably to assist conflicts overseas. He actually stated during the meeting, “if you ever need cash [to purchase weapons], let me know”. Following the meeting, the conspirators considered asking the physician for cash in order to build a bomb, but failed to make a request to the accused.

The accused was not an entirely disinterested party to these events, but ultimately did not possess the requisite mental element to be convicted under the new anti-terrorist provisions in the Criminal Code,

83.19 (1) Every one who knowingly facilitates a terrorist activity is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

What makes this case so unique is that this is the first time someone has been acquitted after being charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act which amended the Code in 2001. Part of the reason for this is the broad manner in which facilitation is defined,

(2) For the purposes of this Part, a terrorist activity is facilitated whether or not

  • (a) the facilitator knows that a particular terrorist activity is facilitated;

  • (b) any particular terrorist activity was foreseen or planned at the time it was facilitated; or

  • (c) any terrorist activity was actually carried out.

Criticism of these provisions is that it has the potential to convict persons without fully ascertaining their intent. Terrance S. Carter states in The Impact of Anti-terrorism Legislation On Charities in Canada: The Need for Balance,

A plain reading of this subsection implies the mens rea element of the offence has been diminished to the point that it verges on a strict liability offence…

It is a well-established principle of criminal law that the more serious a crime, the more specific the required intent needs to be. Consequently, the substantive curtailment of a mens rea requirement for the definition of “facilitation” of a terrorist offence is disturbing, since it does the opposite of being commensurate with the assured gravity of the offence or its punishment. Instead it exposes arguably innocent third parties who had no intention or foreknowledge their acts or omissions would be considered to be “facilitating” a “terrorist activity” in the same manner as an individual who has an actual mens rea element to their participation in a terrorist activity.

Carter claims Canada goes so far beyond its obligations as required by Resolution 1373 of the U.N. Security Council that it violates principles of natural justice, criminal law, and due process.

The accused’s acquittal in this case is not based on his lack of knowledge of a particular plot or goal, but rather whether he sincerely meant to pledge himself to the group during the sole meeting on July 20, 2010. Whether due to lack of sleep or wanting to be a good guest in his host’s home, the accused appears to have created sufficient doubt about his motives for acquiescing during this meeting.

Others charged under these provisions have not been so lucky.

 

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

For future reference. If someone says

<CONTENT /> v.5 - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 16:34

For future reference.
If someone says something like “How about if I could click this and check that and then _voilà!_ it works” that _voilà!_ translates into approximately 496 lines of code and a new table in the database. :ghost:

But it is probably a cool new feature that is totally worth the work.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

My Twitter Digest for 08/18/2014

<CONTENT /> v.5 - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 14:30
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

How Should the Law Handle Privacy and Data Security Harms?

LLRX - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 13:01
In his fourth article in a four part series, Daniel J. Solove discusses how the law should handle privacy and security harms.
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Habits and Shortcuts

slaw - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 12:44

My Dad, a big old gruff softie farmer from central Alberta hates (is terribly afraid of) mice. Squeeks like one when he sees them indoors, the sweetheart. I dislike the mouse that is attached to my computer when I have to take my hands off of the keyboard to use it to engage functions in software. This personality quirk is so well known in my firm that people will send me keyboard shortcuts, bless them.

Josette McEachern, Field Law’s Library Manager sent me this MS Excel tip today:

To insert a row Cntrl Shft =
To delete a row Cntrl –

In Making Sense of Change Management: A Complete Guide to the Models Tools and Techniques of Organizational Change by Esther Cameron and Mike Green (Kogan Page Publishers, 2012 via Google Books) at page 61 the authors mention Edgar Schein’s three stages of change:

  1. unfreezing: creating the motivation to change;
  2. learning new concepts and new meanings from old concepts;
  3. internalizing new concepts and meanings

During the initial unfreezing stage people need to unlearn certain things before they can focus fully on new learning.

I am highly motivated to use the keyboard shortcuts shared by my colleague when manipulating lengthy Excel worksheets – something I regularly do. First I will have to unlearn reaching for my mouse and right clicking to insert or delete a row. I know, based on prior keyboard shortcut use, that I can produce work faster if I keep my mitts on the keyboard. I understand the concept of inserting and deleting rows and how that will impact my work. Still, it will be hard to internalize the process change of using Cntrl plus minus sign to delete rows ni Excel.

Why is it hard? Unlearning an existing process requires us to discard our old, comfortable, habits, dismantle and discard our obsolete or misleading knowledge.

My example of adopting a new keyboard shortcut is a small thing, but extrapolate that idea. What are you doing today that you know is inefficient? What do you need to unlearn in order to break your habit of doing “it” “that way”? Cntrl Shift =

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Courthouse Libraries BC Announces Service Reductions

slaw - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 11:48

Read the full article here.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Should Law Firms Focus on Social Media or Search Engine Marketing?

The Lawyerist - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 06:12

It is difficult to respond to legal marketing questions with a simple answer. For instance, what source of referral traffic should you care about most, social media or search engines?

Lexblog’s Kevin O’Keefe addresses this question on his own blog.

Who would have thought even a couple years ago that social media may be as important as Google in drawing traffic to your law blog. After all, eight or nine years ago we said BLOG stood for “Better Listing On Google.”

There is no question that the explosive use of social media has increased traffic. Regularly, I review analytics from legal websites and blogs that show considerable year-over-year growth in social media referral traffic.

Year-over-year social media referral traffic to a legal blog.

On the other hand, it is rare that I review a site or blog that receives more traffic from social media than from search engines. Over time, the numbers tend to look more like this:

I suspect O’Keefe sees similar trends across much of the LexBlog network, but he does not discount search as being important. In fact, he notes:

Sure, Google remains important. But going forward you ought to be spending more time looking at how you can increase traffic to your blog from social media than from Google.

Which he further supports in our brief exchange on Twitter:

.@kevinokeefe @clairecm @peretti social > search for blogs? Meh. Maybe in some situations. Totally different user intent… Why not both?

— Gyi Tsakalakis (@gyitsakalakis) August 14, 2014

@gyitsakalakis No question it’s both – social and search; law firms just need be less myopic in how people arrive at content.

— Kevin O’Keefe (@kevinokeefe) August 14, 2014

Admittedly, I am also guilty of being myopic. But paying additional attention to search is warranted. Define Media Group Founder and CEO Marshall D. Simmonds confirms this in his retort to BuzzFeed’s social media coronation:

Despite BuzzFeed’s claims to the contrary and the follow up mis-reporting, the data we analyzed irrefutably shows the following:

  • Organic search traffic is the #1 referral data source

  • Organic search traffic far outperforms social

  • Organic search traffic is aggressively growing year over year

Social grew in Q4 (on that much we can agree with BuzzFeed), however organic search traffic did as well

Among our network of publishers, search sent nearly 2.5 times more traffic than social, accounting for 41% of all referrals, versus social’s 16%.

Gun to my head, which source of referral traffic is more important? Neither of them.

The truth is these channels have become inextricably intertwined as illustrated in this infographic by MDG Advertising:

Instead of trying to decide which channel is more important, focus on understanding how they work together.

Social media is an effective channel for staying current with your community and professional network. Additionally, it serves as a venue to get the attention of journalists who may write about and link to your posts. This is a positive signal search engines use to rank web pages.

Search engines will remain the primary source for people who look you up online. They will expect to see information about you on search engines. However, when they search, they will also expect to find information about you on social media sites. That is where social activity such as ratings, reviews and comments play a role.

This is why I recommend taking a diversified approach to web traffic. Google’s Matt Cutts articulates it well:

“I’m all for having eggs in lots of different baskets, because if your website goes down and then you can always have your brick-and-mortar business,” Cutts said. “If your ranking on Google is not as good, then you can have other channels that you can use – from print media advertising, to billboards, to Twitter, to Facebook. So you should always have a very well-rounded portfolio of ways to get leads whether from people walking through your door or Yellow Pages or whatever it is, because you can’t count on any one channel always working out perfectly.

All of these baskets work together. The lines between search, social, and offline marketing channels are blurred. Firms that focus on understanding how these channels work together get a better return on their investments in both time and money.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Tips Tuesday

slaw - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 06:00

Here are excerpts from the most recent tips on SlawTips, the site that each week offers up useful advice, short and to the point, on technology, research and practice.

Technology

Use One or More Commas for a Short Pause When Dialing Phone Number Extensions
Dan Pinnington

If you frequently dial someone who has an extension, it can be frustrating to wait for the main phone number to connect before you can to enter the extension number, if you can even remember it. As Canadians, we frequently have to enter a number to select English or French before we can dial the extension. What a pain! You can easily avoid this frustration can with a comma or two. Simply enter the main contact number as you normally would, but then add a comma followed by the extension number (e.g., 4165551234,567)…

Research

Find a Pleading Precedent
Shaunna Mireau

I like baking. You gather all the ingredients, put them together according to a recipe and then, if all goes well, you share a tasty treat. Starting a legal action is a little bit like baking:

you start with the facts provided by your client (ingredients)
you put them together according to accepted rules (recipe)
you serve your claim on the other parties (share)

The recipe for a claim can be tested with a precedent for a pleading…

Practice

What Is On Your Bucket List?
David Bilinsky

Having just returned from my summer vacation, I came across an article on Lifehack.org that struck a resonate chord deep within me. The article is entitled: The Ultimate Bucket List: 60 Things You Should Do Before You Die. Perhaps it was the all-too tragic death of Robin Williams. Perhaps it was my visit to Ground Zero this summer. Perhaps it was just the sense that life is passing by all too quickly. I do know that I wished I had written this article as I think that Thomas Mondel has done an excellent job and he should be justifiably proud of what he has crafted….

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

#SLAtalk Tomorrow: Trailblazing! Info Pros and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

slaw - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 14:54

SLA has had a regular series of Twitter chats on a variety of topics. The next one, on info pros and entrepreneurialism, is close to my heart, and being co-hosted by another association I belong to, AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals). Details below. I hope you will take part or read along.

#SLAtalk: Trailblazing! Info Pros and the Entrepreneurial Spirit
https://www.sla.org/slatalk-trailblazing-info-pros-entrepreneurial-spirit/

Passion. Positivity. Adaptability. Leadership. Ambition.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, it is these five traits that exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit. Join @SLAhq and the Association of Independent Information Professionals (@AIIP) for an hour-long Twitter chat about what it takes to be a trailblazing information professional. Whether you are already an independent info pro, looking for a career change or are leading the pack from within your company, share how you exemplify an entrepreneurial spirit within your industry.

Tuesday, August 19th from 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm EDT
What time is that where you are? http://time.is/compare

► New to doing a Twitter chat? Take a look at “How to #SLAtalk” http://www.sla.org/slatalk-plus-slatalk-archives/

► Follow @SLAhq and @AIIP – and use hashtag #SLAtalk to be a part of the conversation!

Q1 (first 15 minutes) Talk about an entrepreneurial break-through moment in your career. If you own your own research business, how did you win your first client? If you provide in-house services to a company, how did you “sell” your services to an important member of the organization? Or, how did you gain the support needed to undertake an important project?

Q2 (second 15 minutes) Personal branding. Whether you work independently or in-house, how do you make yourself known? More than just marketing, how do you be a self-starting, risk tolerant and just an all-around go-getter in order to be a trailblazing info pro?

Q3 (third 15 minutes) If you’re thinking about making the leap into the independent info pro world, what tips or advice would you like to know? If you are already independent, what would you tell someone new to your professional community?

Q4 (fourth 15 minutes) What are some best practices to having an entrepreneurial spirit? What are some skills, mantras or attitudes one can create and maintain for themselves in order to keep the spirit alive?

Can’t join us live on Twitter? Check the SLA Blog’s #SLAtalk category for the recap which will be posted following the session.

 

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

My Twitter Digest for 08/17/2014

<CONTENT /> v.5 - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 14:30
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Too Experienced to Use a Checklist? Quite the Opposite

slaw - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 14:11

LAWPRO’s practicePRO program maintains an impressive online collection of law practice management resources, including precedents, sample retainers, business plan templates, and yes – checklists.

Our most popular checklists include:

These tools help lawyers organize, prioritize and track the steps they have taken and the issues they have covered when dealing with a matter, whether it be a client file or an office management task. They are designed to be saved separately for each use, and filled out and filed for future reference.

If you don’t already use checklists in your practice, your excuse may be that you’ve been practising so long that you know the necessary steps in your work better than you know your home phone number… or that you could do these tasks in your sleep. But that’s exactly why the longer you’re in practice, the more important it may become to use checklists.

When studying how memory works, and specifically, why we forget the things we do, researchers like J.A. Bergström have suggested that when we create multiple similar memories – for example, when we complete the same task over and over for different clients – the overlay of similar memories makes it more difficult for us to retrieve the details of any particular instance from the cache. This effect is called the “interference theory” of forgetting. A lawyer may assert that she always reviews any provisions in an equipment lease relating to early termination penalties with lessee clients; but if asked to recall the details (when? In person? Over the phone? Did the client have any questions?) of this particular conversation with a particular client represented four or five years ago, she may draw a blank. Unless, of course, she can retrieve an annotated checklist from the file.

If you could do something in your sleep, your memories of having done it may fade like a dream… but the client, for whom the transaction may be unique or rare, stands a much better chance of remembering very clearly. In the event of a claim arising from the transaction, the way our memories work puts experienced lawyers at a disadvantage. Use a checklist!

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Case Law in an Era of Heightened Scrutiny

LLRX - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 13:50
Ken Strutin's documents the scope of sources that encompass a critical issue that has recently repeatedly surfaced in mass media and the legal press - the fact that judicial decisions are believed to embody legal reasoning, societal values and support the foundations of our legal system. For scholars, lawyers and librarians there are three essential components: decision-making, opinion writing and publication. Recently, scrutiny of Supreme Court opinions and the work habits of the courts in general has been drawing attention to the entirety of judicial work that is at the heart of precedent. This article collects a range of pertinent guides, manuals, treatises, law reviews, studies and newsworthy mentions that address significant issues in judicial decision-making, opinion writing and case law publishing.
Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Right to Be Forgotten – the EU Justice Commissioner Chimes In

slaw - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 13:22

Martine Reicherts, the Justice Commissioner for the EU, has little patience with those who express concern about the ‘right to be forgotten’ as imposed by the EU Court of Justice in May of this year (without actually using the expression itself). Here is her speech and a short but very direct summary at the outset.

As you probably know, the UK House of Lords recently issued a report describing the right as ‘misguided in principle and unworkable in practice’:

Who’s right? Will the EU hurt itself by insisting on putting internet intermediaries, especially those that do not organize content, to the task of evaluating thousands of requests for removal of links? Or will such a task clear the way to a brave new world of single-market efficiencies respectful of individual’s privacy rights?

I don’t believe anyone has yet come up with a potential right to be forgotten hidden so far undiscovered in PIPEDA or its provincial counterparts, as the CJEU found in the 1995 Privacy Directive. Please correct me if I’m wrong….

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Structured Data for Libraries: RDFa … Eh?

slaw - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 07:56

It’s been about two months now since the American Library Association held its annual meeting, this year in Las Vegas. Unfortunately I had to miss this event, which was disappointing because there was a fantastic looking pre-conference on linked data presented by the Library Linked Data Interest Group. Theodore Gerontakos provides a wonderful summary of what happened and I direct you there to read his overview.

What I wanted to focus in on today is the opening pre-conference presentation delivered by Dan Scott: “Structured Data for Libraries: RDFa and schema.org“. Scott is a self-professed “library geek” and is currently the Systems Librarian at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

Scott provides a nice introduction to RDFa* and the code samples help walk you through everything from simple HTML coding to a number of increasingly complex ways to incorporate RDFa into HTML. It is these code examples that I find to be a particularly valuable part of Scott‘s presentation.

Next he introduces us to the folks at schema.org who set out in 2011 to create “a single vocabulary for all things.” With its commercial roots it remains to be seen if schema.org will become the one vocabulary that rules them all, but it has become a popular resource with search engines like Bing, Google, Yahoo! and Yandex (not surprisingly since they are all contributors to the development of this schema).

Now nicely primed and ready to code Scott serves up some practical “codelabs” providing an opportunity to get our hands (or at least our fingertips) dirty. The exercises start with example web pages and demonstrate how to enhance them using the structured data that Scott has shown us in his presentation.

There is also a more advanced codelab that uses the Python programming language and shows how to capture the structured data found in the “sitemap” of a website. A sitemap is a method of informing search engines about the structure of the pages and the best path the search engine should use to crawl through the site.

This practical introduction to structured data deserves close attention and will help anyone trying to familiarize themselves with linked data concepts. It’s also useful to revisit Scott’s presentation at Code4Lib earlier this year which he writes about in the blog post Tales of a semantic web dropout (or what I meant to say at code4lib 2014).

Thankfully what happens in Vegas doesn’t always have to stay in Vegas!

* RDFa is short for Resource Description Framework in Attributes. For the visually inclined I also recommend this short video about RDFa by Manu Sporny RDFa Basics.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Monday’s Mix

slaw - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 06:00

Each Monday we present brief excerpts of recent posts from five of Canada’s award­-winning legal blogs chosen at random* from sixty recent Clawbie winners. In this way we hope to promote their work, with their permission, to as wide an audience as possible.

This week the randomly selected blogs are 1. Thoughful Legal Management  2. Double Aspect 3. The Stream  4. Barry Sookman  5. SOQUIJ

Thoughful Legal Management
What is on Your Bucket List?

Having just returned from my summer vacation, I came across an article on Lifehack.org that struck a resonate chord deep within me. The article is entitled: The Ultimate Bucket List: 60 Things You Should Do Before You Die. Perhaps it was the all-too tragic death of Robin Williams. Perhaps it was my visit to Ground Zero this summer. Perhaps it was just the sense that life is passing by all too quickly. I do know that I wished I had written this article as I think that Thomas Mondel has done an excellent job and he should be justifiably proud of what he has crafted….

Double Aspect
The Economics of Unanimity

It is often thought that judicial unanimity is a valuable commodity. Chief Justices bang heads, twist arms, and break legs in order to get their courts to produce more of it, but they don’t always succeed, and unanimity remains at least somewhat scarce on the U.S. and Canadian Supreme Courts (although more on the former than on the latter, which has been unanimous in judgment in between two thirds and three quarters of its decisions rendered since 2010). The unusually high output of the unanimity production line at the US Supreme Court this year has produced much commentary. But how much do we really know about the economics of unanimity? …

The Stream
Johanne Blenkin: Courthouse Libraries BC 2014/2015 Service Reductions

CLBC has recently reduced or discontinued some services and adjusted our staffing levels in response to an 18% funding cut from our primary funder, the Law Foundation of British Columbia. Because the majority of our current budget is devoted to two core areas (staffing costs and information resources), it is not possible to absorb a budget reduction of this size without affecting these two areas. After careful review, we have made the following adjustments…

Barry Sookman
Michael Geist’s attack on artists over Tariff 8

On May 16, 2014 the Copyright Board released its decision certifying Re: Sound Tariff 8 setting royalty rates for webcasting services in Canada. Re:Sound promptly filed an application for judicial review of the decision, calling it a “significant outlier in the world” that “greatly disadvantages the Canadian music industry in the globalized market place.” Re:Sound’s application was met with a blizzard of support when 70 music organizations released a joint statement publically denouncing the Copyright Board decision. They called it “a serious setback for the music community in Canada” and “for artists and the music companies who invest in their careers”….

SOQUIJ
Les dommages-intérêts punitifs en vertu de la Loi sur la protection du consommateur

En vertu de l’article 272 de la Loi sur la protection du consommateur, si un commerçant manque à une obligation que lui impose la loi, le consommateur peut demander des dommages-intérêts punitifs, dont les critères d’attribution sont prévus à l’article 1621 du Code civil du Québec. Récemment, dans l’arrêt Richard c. Time Inc.,la Cour suprême a rappelé que ces dommages-intérêts visaient notamment à décourager la répétition de comportements indésirables. Le tribunal doit également apprécier le comportement du commerçant avant et après la violation.

_________________________

*Randomness here is created by Random.org and its list randomizing function.

Categories: Teknoids Blogs

Should Children Have a Right to a Healthy Environment?

slaw - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 06:00

On June 17, 2014, several environmental groups in New Brunswick circulated for comment a draft environmental bill of rights for children. Called “A Bill of Rights to Protect Children’s Health from Environmental Hazards,” it is the first of its kind in Canada. If passed, the law would confer on every child “the right to protection from environmental hazards,” meaning

a hazard that impairs or damages the environment or changes the environment in a manner that may threaten human health, including physical and mental well-being, and includes a “contaminant” as defined by the Clean Environment Act;

The teeth of the bill would come from section 5:

The Government of New Brunswick has an obligation, within its jurisdiction, to ensure it does not expose a child or allow a child to be exposed to an environmental hazard.

Any child whose right to protection from environmental hazards, as guaranteed by this Act, has been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

Thus, the Bill would give children standing to sue the government of New Brunswick (via their parents or guardians) for money, or for other relief, if they suffer harm due to an “environmental hazard.”

Such a Bill would be a major departure from existing Canadian law, though not unusual internationally. Ontario has an Environmental Bill of Rights, 1993 (EBR) which recites that “the people of Ontario have a right to a healthful environment,” but the EBR only confers procedural rights, such as the right to access information and the right to participate in governmental decision-making. No Canadian jurisdiction now recognizes a human right to a healthy environment, or authorizes American-style citizen suits to enforce environmental rights.

The New Brunswick draft was prepared by the New Brunswick Environmental Children’s Health Collaborative, one of many children’s environmental health groups across the country. The legal backgrounder on the draft bill outlines its rationale. As is now well known, environmental contaminants can affect children more easily, but existing regulations are not always well designed to protect the special vulnerabilities of children. Sources such as the Canadian Medical Association and the United States Environmental Protection Agency frequently report that pollutants cost the health care system and society billions of dollars each year.

It is not likely that any Canadian government will quickly adopt a law of this kind, because of fears that such open-ended “rights” could cause economic and regulatory havoc, with an avalanche of litigation. Supporters of the concept say such fears are overblown.

As Saxe Law Office has previously reported, over 90% of United Nations member countries recognize the right to a healthy environment through their constitution or other laws. Specifically, 177 out of 193 U.N. member nations recognize a substantive right to a clean environment. Aside from Canada, the holdouts include the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, Oman, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Brunei Darussalam, Lebanon, Laos, Myanmar, North Korea, Malaysia, and Cambodia. Of course, having such a law is by no means the same as having a healthy environment…

In 2012, Professor David Boyd, one of Canada’s leading academics on environmental law and policy, reviewed the constitutions and case law of the 193 U.N. member countries on this very issue. His conclusion was that “the incorporation of the right to a healthy environment in a country’s constitution leads directly to two important legal outcomes—stronger environmental laws and court decisions defending the right from violations.” Are these laws leading to a cleaner environment? Boyd posits that, “The evidence in this regard is strikingly positive. Nations with environmental provisions in their constitutions have smaller ecological footprints…are more likely to ratify international environmental agreements, and made faster progress in reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and greenhouse gases than nations without such provisions.”

What about lawsuits overburdening regulators? Boyd argues that only the most egregious cases have led to awards against governments, and the amounts have been modest. He cites examples from Russia, Romania, Chile and Turkey.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) provides two interesting examples. In both cases, the plaintiffs suffered serious distress, but could not prove that their health problems were due to pollution from a particular industry. In Tatar and Tatar v. Romania (2009), a company used sodium cyanide to exploit a gold mine near the applicant’s home, much as the Giant Mine did in Yellowknife. An environmental accident occurred, releasing cyanide-contaminated tailings. The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) recognizes (in its Article 8) a “right to respect for private and family life.” The ECHR observed that pollution could interfere with a person’s private and family life by harming his or her well-being, and that a state had a duty to ensure the protection of its citizens by regulating the corporations that emit it. The ECHR held that the applicant had failed to prove a link between his asthma and his exposure to sodium cyanide, but it did find that the Romanian authorities had “failed in their duty to assess, to a satisfactory degree, the risks that the company’s activity might entail, and to take suitable measures in order to protect the rights of those concerned”. The Court awarded the applicant 6,266 euros (EUR) for costs and expenses and dismissed his claim for damages.

In Fadeyeva v. Russia (2005), a Russian national sued her government because she alleged that the operation of a steel plant in close proximity to her home endangered her health. She relied on Article 8 of the ECHR. The Court found that the concentration of various toxic chemicals exceeded permissible levels near her home. The Court noted the possibility that the applicant had suffered harm from the chemicals: “Even assuming the pollution did not cause any quantifiable harm to her health, it inevitably made the applicant more vulnerable to various illnesses. Moreover, there can be no doubt that it adversely affected her quality of life at home.” The Court found fault with the Russian government because it failed to regulate the plant. The plant was alleged to be responsible for 95% of the overall air pollution in the region. The Court noted, however, that the applicant did not incur any expenses as a result of the violation of her rights, and was never deprived of title to her property. Her possible relocation by the government was only “one of many possible solutions.” In its final judgment, the Court ordered Russia to pay 6,000 euros (EUR) for her mental distress, as well as her costs and legal fees.

As these cases illustrate, it is exceptionally difficult to prove legal causation of a specific illness by a specific polluter. This is just as true in Canada as it is in Europe, and may be the major reason that there has been so little litigation on environmental rights in the countries that have them.

There is also a philosophical issue: would the courts do a better job of protecting the environment than elected governments do? More on this next month…

Categories: Teknoids Blogs