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Category Archive: Cases

Edmonton Inmates Sue Attorney General Over Solitary Confinement

A former Edmonton inmate, Matthew Hamm, successfully sued against his six-week solitary confinement. Since the court ruled in favour of Hamm on August 8, Hamm has been outspoken on his treatment while in prison, reports the CBC. He and two other inmates are also suing the Attorney General of Canada for $5.6 million over their treatment in solitary.

Hamm was completing his five-and a-half-year sentence when he was placed in solitary confinement on June 28. Also known as “the hole”, solitary is an indefinite placement that doesn’t require an initial hearing to justify its use. Hamm and five other inmates were initially told they’d be moved to their own unit, but were placed in solitary. Court documents state that the group was moved because they planned to harm correction officers. Hamm contested the claim and filed a habeas corpus.

A habeus corpus is a way to report unlawful detention or imprisonment. Hamm claims that the correction officers retaliated against him. However, he was able to use his time in solitary to work on his habeus corpus.

By the time Hamm won and was released back into the general prison population, he had served 43 days in solitary. Under the Correction and Conditional Release Act, inmates are only permitted to spend 30 days in solitary.

The Current Lawsuit

The men claim that solitary was “cruel and unusual punishment”. The state of solitary was “grossly disproportionate and failed to comply with principles of fundamental justice”. Correctional Service Canada states that inmates in solitary receive daily health care visits, inspections, visits by the warden, and access to visitors and support. Hamm said that this was not his experience at all. As per the CBC, Hamm states that the lawsuit “is his way of speaking up for those in similar situations who may not be able to do so for themselves”.

Read more about this case on the CBC news website.

Story source: CBC

Featured image source: Right on Crime

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Yorkdale’s Fashion Santa Takes Legal Action After Being Replaced

Fashion Santa

In the classic Christmas film Miracle on 34th Street, a department store Santa Claus has to go to court to prove that he is in fact the real Jolly Old Saint Nick. Now, in a real life contemporary twist on this story, Yorkdale Mall’s original Fashion Santa, model Paul Mason, is going to court to prove that he is the one and only, after being replaced ahead of this year’s holiday season.

You may remember Fashion Santa after he exploded on social media throughout the last two years. Starting in December 2014, Yorkdale, located in North Toronto, introduced a new hip Santa Claus for the season’s ad campaigns and to appear around the mall. With a thin figure and sporting a nicely groomed white beard and a stylish wardrobe, shoppers took photos with him en masse, proliferating his image throughout the web.

This year, Yorkdale is keeping the Fashion Santa brand but now has a new model, Adam Martin, to play the part. Needless to say, Mason is none too happy about this. He claims that Fashion Santa was his idea and that it’s technically his brand, meaning Yorkdale can’t use it without him. While he was approached by Yorkdale to reprise the role this year, Mason alleges that the mall wanted to put “conditions” on his employment so he turned them down. Now that they’ve gone ahead anyway with Martin, Mason aims to take them to court.

According to records from Industry Canada’s intellectual property office, Mason actually does hold a copyright for Fashion Santa. But the term has not been officially trademarked yet, and Yorkdale’s application to do so was submitted before Mason’s.

Legal experts, including University of Toronto professor Richard Powers who consulted on the Yorkdale campaign, believes that the mall will come out on top despite Mason’s copyright.

“If he’s copyrighting the name, I’m surprised you can obtain a copyright for that because the terms are generic,” Powers said. “Nobody owns the rights to Santa.”

Meanwhile, John Simpson, a lawyer specializing in intellectual property (unconnected to this case), said, “A character is more than a name. And if it’s just a name then it (should be) a trademark.”

For Yorkdale’s part, they claim that they had already been planning on launching a similar idea to use a bearded older model when Mason approached them with Fashion Santa. So the final result was a merging of the two ideas.

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned legal battle to mark the holidays.

Source: Toronto Star

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An Outcry In Court After Ontario Judge Wears Pro-Trump Cap

Following president-elect Donald Trump’s victory on Tuesday, Ontario judge Bernd Zabel arrived at the John Sopinka courthouse in Hamilton wearing a cap in support of Trump.

Following the incident, legal observers have stated that Justice Zabel’s politically-fueled act goes against the judicial impartiality that the public should be able to rely upon. What is most troubling are Trump’s remarks regarding women and minorities.

When he entered the courtroom, in the usual garb that includes a black robe, red sash and white tie, his extra accessory stood out. Witnesses have said that he explained the addition of the hat as a way to mark the “historic occasion” that was Trump’s victory. He then took the hat off and left it sitting on the bench for everyone in the courtroom to see.

Kim Stanton, who is the legal director at the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, also took issue with Zabel’s hat. She found it problematic because of  Trump’s derogatory comments about women, his proposed ban on Muslims entering the United States, deporting immigrants and building a wall between Mexico and the U.S. For her, the idea that a Canadian judge would do what Zabel did could make women and minorities feel that they will not have a fair trial. Shahzad Siddiqui, a Muslim lawyer in Toronto, also feels that people in his community would feel uncomfortable, particularly women wearing the veil.

The dean at Osgoode Hall Law, Lorne Sossin, stated that he did not deem the incident worthy of misconduct, but that a warning should definitely be issued to avoid anything similar in the future. Section 1.1 of the Ontario Judicial Council’s principles of judicial office state that judges should maintain objectivity and should not show favour, bias or prejudice towards any party or interest.

William Trudell, who is the chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, has recommended that the incident should be dealt with internally. He called it an unusual situation and said that Zabel is a fine judge. He chalks it up to Wednesday being an unusual day in general, and went on to say that this misstep shows a human error and not a judicial error.

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Judge Orders Child Not To Wear Girls’ Clothes In Public

A recent ruling in Alberta is raising questions about whether a judge should be able to exert control over a child’s clothing.

Last December, a judge in Medicine Hat, Alberta, ruled that a four-year old child is only permitted wear “masculine” clothing in public. The ruling, which was passed down family court, came amidst a custody battle between the child’s parents and goes against the wishes of the child’s primary caregiver.

The child, who was born biologically male, is now five years old — and began claiming years ago that they were female. The child began introducing themselves as a girl, and would routinely respond with anger when called a boy by their mother. Things escalated even further when the child threatened to cut off their own genitals.

That was the final straw for the child’s mother, who then decided that she would enlist the help of professionals and take her child’s claims more seriously. She began to refer to her child as a girl, which elicited much appreciation.

After the mother told the father — from whom she is separated — about these developments, he filed for primary custody of their child. He also credited the mother as the source of their child’s gender “confusion.”

Last winter, the child’s parents took up their custody dispute in Medicine Hat family court. It was there that Judge Derek Redman ruled that the mother could remain the primary caregiver, but the child was not allowed to wear blatantly feminine clothes while in public.

A few months later, the case was taken up by another judge. Judge Fred Fisher reaffirmed the clothing stipulation, but this time, gave primary custody to the child’s father.

Last month, a third judge — Judge Gordon Krinke — solicited the input of a parenting expert. He accordingly modified the clothing restriction and stipulated that the mother and father must provide their child with clothing for both genders. The child can then pick what clothing they feel is best.

Transgender activists have spoken out against these rulings, noting that the courts cannot decide what clothing a child wears — doing so contradicts the province’s Bill of Rights. In addition, boys who aren’t transgender are still legally permitted to wear dresses, which makes this ruling unfair.

For more on this story, visit the CBC.

Featured image source: Manitoba Courts

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Public Employee In Legal Mess: Phoenix Payroll Problem

Darrel Delisle, a former contract worker for Global Affairs Canada, is stuck in a legal mess after suing the federal government over the Phoenix payroll problems.

A new computerized payroll system called Phoenix was introduced in Ottawa. It was discovered this year that, following glitches in the system, the two largest unions representing federal public servants were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues that were not properly collected. Since February of this year, more than 80,000 workers have had issues when it comes to being paid. Some are being paid too much, too little or not at all.

Delisle, the first person to sue the federal government regarding the Phoenix payroll problems, filed a lawsuit after struggling to get paid for three months while Phoenix was rolled out. Before filing the lawsuit, Delisle tried a number of different methods to get paid. This included calling the pay centre 635 times, sending emails, and by setting up meetings with superiors. He even tried filing a labour complaint, but it was rejected. He ultimately left Global Affairs in June. On July 14, he filed his lawsuit in small claims court seeking $24,000 “for the payment of wages, personal hardship experience and extreme inconvenience caused by this unacceptable administrative process imposed by the employer”.

However, in their defence statement, Global Affairs claims that Delisle was only owed $12,599 but was paid a lump sum of $26,707 on July 27. Global Affairs is now claiming that Delisle owes the government $14,692.

In an article by the CBC on the case, lawyer Sean McGee states that the way the government is handling this case could discourage other vulnerable workers from taking legal action. According the McGee, the government’s position on this lawsuit “sends the signal that people aren’t going to be able to take advantage of their rights”. He also stated the government’s response to the Phoenix payroll problem lawsuit could cause people in similar situations to question if they would even be able to work again after a public legal battle.

To learn more, visit the CBC News website.

Story source: CBC News

Featured image source: Career Builder

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Social Media Scrutiny During Ghomeshi Case Could Prompt Reforms


During the Jian Ghomeshi trial, many Canadians expressed outrage on social media over the verdict and the way the case was handled overall. It looks like the public reaction may actually change the way that sexual assault cases are handled by the legal system in the future.

Mary Rolf, a law student at Dalhousie University and researcher studying the public reaction to the Jian Ghomeshi case, presented her findings at an international law conference in Halifax this week. She stated that the case could lead to “crowd-sourced reforms” regarding how the legal system handles sexual assault cases.

According to Rolf, the reaction on social media was unprecedented because “you don’t usually hear ordinary Canadians commenting on whether they think the justice system is fair”. Rolf also stated in an interview that the social media reaction to the case was “a great example of people getting engaged in what they were unhappy with. I think social media could be such a great forum to poll people’s real-time reactions”.

As to how this reaction from the public could reform laws, Rolf stated that the “law is reciprocal. It’s just as much about people saying ‘This is the society I want to live in,’ as it is about the letter of the law”.

If Rolf’s findings are correct, that means that social media could potentially have an effect on a number of different laws in the future. If you own a business or a legal firm, it’s important to stay on top of new law reforms as well as public opinion regarding the law. LexisNexis provides legal management software that can help you search for legal information and insight quickly and easily. They also have programs that can help you manage bills and accounting, capture expenses, and gain control over client management. Visit the LexisNexis website to learn more about their software programs.

Featured image source: National Post

Story source: Metro News

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When and How Brexit Begins – Remains Up For Debate

If you’ve turned on the TV, read a newspaper or checked social media, you’ve likely heard the historic news about Brexit — Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Britain has been a part of the EU for forty-three years, alongside twenty-eight other countries on the continent. Last week, 52 per cent of British citizens voted to leave the EU, while 48 voted to stay.

After the results of the referendum were made public, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation in tears. Economists around the world have predicted that this decision could unleash dire economic consequences for British citizens — indeed, the British pound has already dropped to the lowest it has been in over twenty years.

Even if others are more optimistic about the country’s future, there is one outcome of the decision that remains clear to everyone: for better or for worse, Brexit will undoubtedly reshape the nation’s place in the world for years to come.

But the logistics of Brexit remain a murky, grey area to navigate, especially given the lack of historical precedent for this decision — no country has ever left the EU before. When Cameron resigned, he said his successor should be responsible for dealing with the logistics of Brexit — an undoubtedly difficult job for whoever takes on his role come October 2016.

Despite the outcome of the referendum, for the time being, Britain remains a member of the EU. So when exactly would Britain cut ties with the EU, and is this truly a final decision?

This weekend, the foreign ministers of Luxembourg, Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands met in Berlin to presumably discuss the next steps of this process. Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty stipulates that there is a two-year exit period in which the U.K. is able to renegotiate trade dealings and other matters with the rest of the EU. But when — and how — this process should officially begin remains up for debate. Some leaders have suggested that the exit could be initiated simply through a formal statement made by Cameron at the European Council, while others are adamant that a formal letter to the EU’s president is required instead.

While some have accepted that the people have spoken, others are frantic to stall the process in any way they can, whether it be through protests or calls for new referendums to appeal this decision.

For more on this story, visit CBC.

Featured image source: The Guardian.

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Judge In Stanford Swimmer Rape Case Faces Criticism

By this point, everybody is aware of the vile saga of University of Stanford swimmer Brock Turner. On January 18, 2015, the 20-year old one-time Olympic hopeful was caught sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after a frat party. But after being arrested and then convicted in court of assault with intent to commit rape, in addition to two more charges of digitally penetrating an unconscious and intoxicated victim, he was recently only sentenced to six months in county jail, far more lenient than the standard punishments for these types of crimes.

Now, the Santa Clara County judge who handed down that sentence, Aaron Persky, is drawing a ton of criticism for his decision. While Persky stated that his conclusion was reached by looking at Turner’s level of intoxication, letters of support, remorsefulness, clean criminal record, and the insane notion of how the conviction would affect his future, Danielle De Smeth, a criminal attorney based in California saw things differently. “The judge’s decision does not seem to be driven by the facts of the case,” she said, “but instead carried by a deep-rooted misogyny which we are only beginning to address.” De Smeth certainly isn’t the only legal expert heaping scorn on Persky these days. Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber is even launching a campaign to get Persky removed from the bench for his decision in the Stanford swimmer case.

In the end, nothing will probably happen to Persky. His big sticking point was that Turner had no prior record and had many supporters, so he could legally deviate from the minimum two-year sentence because of these circumstances. Unfortunately, this sentencing sends a pretty dangerous message.

“The light sentencing in the Brock Turner case is problematic for several reasons,” stated De Smeth, “but at least in part because it emboldens those of privilege or an athletic background.”

This decision by Persky is troubling to say the least and appropriately so, will not be the last we hear of this case. Issuing such a light sentence for such a disturbing and vile act sends a terrible message and precedent to future offends and to society as a whole that these types of crimes are not taken seriously. This is completely wrong. The justice system failed and specifically, judge Persky failed in his ability to take a harsh stand on a serious issue in today’s society.

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PhD Graduate Uses “Pseudolegal” Tactics To Avoid Paying Debt

Knowledge of the legal system is a powerful tool, and a dangerous one in the hands of the wrong person. Equipped with the right vocabulary of legal language (otherwise known as “legalese”) and certain tricks, a person can make the legal system jump through hoops for years on end.

Take Angela Greter, for example, a one-time PhD in Animal Science student at Guelph University. Solely through the use of cunning set of legal phrases, Greter was able to evade paying her student debts (which totalled $64,000) after graduation for three full years.

How did Greter accomplish such a task without a law degree? Well, the internet and the use of pseudolegal tactics.

After the province of Alberta reached out to Greter regarding the money she loaned for her education, Greter took to online resources that had templates and prepared questions when facing creditors.

Apparently, Greter only wanted to find out if Alberta had sold the securities to her debt, which would have meant the province would have gotten paid, notes the National Post. So, not wanting to pay someone twice, Greter used her newly acquired set of legal lingo to find out about the status of her loan.

Except the websites Greter visited showed the types of questions and phrasing a con artist would use. Asking whether the province had evidence that they were the “current holder of the original debt” and a “True Bill inked in blue with ‘Bill’ and ‘Value’ marked upon the face,” Greter basically asked unanswerable questions that stalled her repayment, a tactic known as using pseudolegal tactics.

Later on, Greter said she would charge Alberta for all time wasted in correspondence, then going as far as to ask if the province had any tangible evidence of a loan agreement held with the “flesh and blood name of Angela Marissa Greter (NOT the legal name).”

This back and forth lasted from December 2013 to April 2015. By that point, the province of Alberta sued Greter for repayment (interest included) and by May 2015, it was found that Greter was essentially trying to get out of paying her student loan.

To be precise, Greter’s methods and demands (specifically the one asking Alberta to provide a distinction from her physical and legal self) were deemed “absurd,” and were ultimately just “pseudolegal” techniques created to “frustrate the administration of justice.”

At the end of it all, Greter still pleaded ignorant, stating it was never her intent to evade her repayment, she just wanted to know if the government truly needed to be paid or not. After speaking with a government lawyer only several weeks ago, Greter saw that Alberta’s request for her to pay them back was entirely justified and a repayment plan was established.

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Not Criminally Responsible Verdict Reached for Matthew de Grood

It’s not often that a judge finds a defendant not criminally responsible. It’s tough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone was mentally incapacitated at the time of the crime, and a particularly difficult verdict to deliver in the face of grieving families who are looking to see justice done. But that’s just what happened in the case of Matthew de Grood, the 24-year-old from Calgary who stabbed five people to death at a house party in 2014.

Two years ago, young Calgarians celebrated the end of the semester at what was supposed to be a typical university party, only to watch the unthinkable unfold. Upon his arrival, de Grood grabbed a knife from the kitchen and killed young party attendees Kaitlin Perras, 23; Lawrence Hong, 27; Josh Hunter, 23; Zackariah Rathwell, 21; and Jordan Seguara, 22 in what appeared to be a random stabbing rampage.

While de Grood confessed that he killed these five people at the party, Justice Eric Macklin of Court of Queen’s Bench said he believed de Grood was suffering from a mental disorder at the time — making him not criminally responsible for their deaths. Macklin said he accepted the testimony from psychiatric experts, who found that de Grood did not appreciate that what he did was morally wrong.

In his closing arguments, de Grood’s defence lawyers said that Matthew believed he was protecting himself from vampires and werewolves. Before he stabbed the victims, de Grood reported that he heard voices instructing him to kill.

Throughout the trial, testimony painted a picture of de Grood becoming more and more withdrawn before the killings. During this time, he was also increasingly posting on Facebook about a number of bizarre, disturbing topics, including religion, vampires, Darth Vader and the apocalypse.

So what’s next? With this ruling, de Grood will now go to a secure psychiatric facility — much to the disappointment of the victim’s families.

Outside the courthouse, Miles Hong spoke on behalf of families, saying that they’ll continue to be broken as they wonder what consequences will befall the man that ended their loved ones’ lives.

This tragic case reflects a reoccurring moral issue in the Canadian legal system: how to handle crimes committed by the mentally ill, while delivering justice to victim’s families.

For more on this story, visit The Globe and Mail.

Featured image source: Canadian Press

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