Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Translation blues

Most of us have had the distressing difficulty of trying to translate a document at some point in our careers. What is most frustrating is that many of the translators, such as babelfish, do a horrific job of translating. There was an interesting discussion on the int-law listserv today about it. Many bemoaned the fact that there was not a translator out there that could do justice to translating a legal document. With all the technology and web 2.0, one would think someone would have had the brains to think up of a decent translator. Oh well, one can always hope!

Friday, July 25, 2008

What's in a name?

I heard something quite interesting on cbc.ca yesterday. A judge in New Zealand has made a 9 year old girl a ward of the court so that she can get her name changed. Why is this? Her name is Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii. That is her first name, not a nickname or a last name. Apparently she is so embarassed by her name that she hasn't even told her friends the name, asking them to refer to her as "K".
This isn't the first time this particular judge hs heard these type of bizarre names. Its probably why he did this. Other odd names that heve been allowed in New Zealand is No. 16 Bus Shelter, although apparently Sex Fruit was not allowed.
What kind of society do we have when parents are allowed to go off on the deep end like this? I'm all for good names, but these sorts of names are not only silly, but an embarassment to the famiy and especially the child.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Getting court documents when they are first filed

I was on vacation all last week. It was great not to worry about work, and doing my own thing, but all things must come to an end!

Anywas, a couple of weeks ago, just before I went on vacation, we had an interesting question being put to us at the reference desk. The question was how to get court documents that have just been filed in court. An example of this would be a statement of claim from the recently publicized Beirut Canada bank case. We tried to figure this out, and then we asked our chief law librarian, who has experience working at one of the big downtown Toronto firms. He said that in Ontario, there really is no way to get these sorts of things online when they are first issued. What normally happens is that you have to go down to the courthouse to get it. Most of the big firms have people who will run down to the courthouse to get the documents. Apparently, Quebec is one of the few places that have their documents online. You can get them on Azimut/Soquij, I believe. (if you can speak French, well and good!)

It works well for law firm libraries, which is fine as they would really be the only ones who need it most of the time. However, sometimes professors would like to see them as they write about them in articles and other papers. It would be nice if Ontario followed Quebec's lead, and for that matter, all of Canada.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A call to digitize all statutes

Yesterday, a law student came to the Reference Desk and wanted to know how to note up a section in the criminal code from the 1970's. I told her she would have to use the print sources once she went back prior to the R.S.C.'s 1985. She had never done it before and did not know what to do. I spent about an hour or so explaining it and going over it with her, especially how to use the print sources. Fortunately we weren't too busy at the desk, and she was finally able to understand it.

This brings me to my point. If Library and Archives Canada can digitize all of the issues of the Canada Gazette, would they not at some point do the same for all of the statutes. When I mean all of the statues, I mean digitize all of the statues, not just those in the present, but also in the past, all the way back to the very beginning of Canada in 1867. I'm not suggesting that digging for the history of the statutes would be that much easier on a computer (the process can still be a pain), but at least the students could do it on a medium they are familiar with, at any time of day.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

They like us! They really like us!!

At the Caribbean Association of Law Libraries Conference (CARALL) in Kingston, Jamaica on July 7th, Jamaica's Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, praised law librarians for the quality work that they do, and encouraged them to continue their education and professional learning. She also lamented the fact that young people are not turning to law librarianship, and that, in Jamaica, that is a problem, as only the law school library, the courts, and wealthy firms have access to trained law librarians. Many law firms and lawyers must make do with library assistants who, in some cases, are not fully trained in the areas of law.

I definitely agree with her remarks. Indeed, we do quality work. I would even argue that as law librarians, we are a vital part to the legal profession. For example, in law firms, we help lawyers find the information without which, they cannot build their arguments around. In law schools, I would argue we truly shape young lawyers. Without the law librarians, law students would not truly learn the research skills they will need to use when they enter the legal profession. Perhaps I'm patting us on the back a bit much, but as someone who articled and had to use research skills quite a bit during that time, I can safely say that I would not have done as good a job researching if I hadn't had the help of the law librarians during my time in law school.

Now... if only more lawyers and professors would fully appreciate us...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Steven Truscott and the Wrongfully Convicted

By now, most people in Canada have heard that Steven Truscott, the man who as a 14 year old in 1959, was convicted of raping and killing his 12 year old classmate, was given compensation yesterday to the tune of 6.5 million dollars.

My colleague and I talked about Truscott, and she was quite interested in wondering what the law was here with regard to the wrongfully convicted and the compensation that they get. In China, where my colleague is from, the government would pay money to the wrongfully- convicted person, but the government would for example, punish the judge if an error was made in their judgment. For example, the state would lower his salary so that in effect, the state would recoup a small amount of money that was paid out to the wrongfully convicted person. She could not understand why in Truscott's case-while she was fine with him getting compensation-the judge would not be punished. I'll have to do some further research on it. I know that you could go after the Crown for malicious prosecution, but you have to be careful. If the judge made an honest mistake, do you then go after the judge? If you do, that could affect how judges make their decisions in the future. They may be so nervous about making a mistake, it could affect their fulfilling their duties.

Perhaps, as some have suggested, there should be legislation brought in that specifically states the kind of compensation one would get. Right now, we have an ad hoc system in Canada, where compensation usually depends on the media attention you get. However, as others have also pointed out, no politician would ever go for introducing legislation, at least not one who is not courageous enough to do so. They do not want to appear soft on crime. Then again, at least with legislation, we would have a clear idea of the compensation that should be paid out. See the article "Convicting the Innocent" by Mark Bourrie in (1999) volume 23 Can. Lawyer No. 11, 29-32 for more.

I wonder what others would have to say about this.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hello and welcome to my blog

This blog will mostly be about both law and libraries. These two areas combine what I do for a living as a law librarian. I'll try to update every day so check back often!