Weeknote 16, 2023

§1 Injustice for All, Part Two

Our justice system was developed under the assumption that both parties in a dispute would each have a lawyer. But most Canadians can’t afford a lawyer — which means that our justice system is tilted in favour of those who can. In a two-part series, IDEAS contributor Mitchell Stuart asks: is a system like that still capable of administering justice?

Part Two of the CBC Ideas miniseries, Injustice for All was released this week, featuring professors Joshua Sealy-Harrington from TMU and Windsor Law’s Danardo Jones. The series is a compelling listen.

§2 CBC: DIY law is on the rise

Also this week, the CBC published this story, Going to court without a lawyer? DIY law is on the rise: Self-representation saves money, but the larger cost is high, say justice-access advocates.

Jinha’s experience is becoming more common in civil courts, according to Jennifer Leitch, executive director of the National Self-Represented Litigants Project (NSRLP) at the University of Windsor.

Leitch says the number of people who are self-represented has grown to the point where approximately 50 per cent of all civil cases in this country involve “self-rep.” She and other legal advocates say it’s the cost of legal services that’s driving up do-it-yourself law.

Leitch said that a week-long trial can cost between $50,000 and $80,000.

“When we have large legal firms at the top charging $1,000 per hour, people can’t afford that,” said Leitch.

§3 Ontario police hires no longer need a post-secondary education

Earlier this week, the Progressive Conservative government announced plans to address a police-recruitment shortage by amending the Community Safety and Policing Act to eliminate the requirement that new hires have a post-secondary education. 

That requirement has a bit of an odd history: it was first introduced by the Liberals in one of their last acts before the 2018 election; after Ford took over in 2019, the Tories reintroduced it in a law of their own but never actually brought that part of the law into effect, leaving it in limbo. Now they’re dropping the pretense entirely, rolling back their own legislation in a panic over crime rates and low recruitment numbers — problems that will not be solved by giving up on better-educated police.

TVO Opinion: Ontario doesn’t need less-educated police, David Moscrop, Apr 26, 2023

From the article above, I learned of the research work of University of Alberta criminologist Temitope Oriola:

A major factor that is often left unexamined in these discussions is the need for higher education requirements for police officers, Oriola adds.

“Quite frankly, I think that needs to be enshrined in policy,” he said. “My distillation of research from literally thousands of police jurisdictions across the United States and experiences outside North America would suggest very definitively that we ought to make a pivot towards recruiting individuals who are university-educated.”…

… He says based on the evidence he’s studied from almost 18,000 police forces across the U.S., officers with higher education are more likely to exhaust all options before making an arrest, have stronger de-escalation abilities and are less likely to use force.

“In fact, officers who are involved in excessive use of force against civilians … have two main things in common — number one, they’re overwhelmingly male and number two, they’re overwhelmingly, in many cases almost-exclusively, officers without university degrees,” said Oriola.

The Maple: Can Systemic Racism In Policing Be Fixed?, Jeremy Appel, August 24 2021

§4 What Wolfram|Alpha knows about US District Courts

This morning, I was poking around Wolfram|Alpha about what it knows about the US legal system. While my first searches didn’t give me great results…

I did learn that the system does cover the US District Courts:

IMHO, this is worth knowing becasue ChatGPT now connects to Wolfram-Alpha.

§5 The Running of the Interns

Since 1946, recording devices have been banned inside the courtroom of the United States Supreme Court Building.[13] Thus, hand-delivered, paper copies were the fastest way for news organizations to receive a particular landmark ruling.

The Supreme Court’s decision is printed and delivered to a clerk’s office, where it is handed to members of the press. Interns are not credentialed and must therefore wait in the hallway outside the press room.[1] Producers hand the paper copy rulings to their network interns, who sprint to deliver them to their respective organizations. The run itself is approximately 1⁄8–1⁄4 mile (200–400 m), from the courtroom to broadcasters awaiting outside.[14] Supporters and protestors alike cheer on the delivery of the opinions.[15] According to one intern, justices may still be announcing the decision by the time they are back inside.[2] … In 2016, interns relayed 13 decisions over three mornings.[1]

HT: Depths of Wikipedia

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