Saaditi v Moorhead: Case Comment

In Medieval Europe, deciding guilt or innocence was sometimes decided by trial by ordeal. It was believed that the holy water would reject a liar. So they would tie up an accused person and throw him in the water. If you floated, you were guilty. If you drowned, you were innocent. Has the law evolved much … Continue reading Saaditi v Moorhead: Case Comment

Nasty Women in the Law

Last week, the Women’s March overshadowed Trump’s Inauguration. So what was it about Hillary Clinton that people found so nasty? What was it that triggered such comments like: “such a nasty woman”? And what is it about women lawyers that trigger these attacks? Such as: “Marie Henein is a successful female lawyer at the top of her profession. … Continue reading Nasty Women in the Law

Civility in the Classroom

Last week I had the honour of guest lecturing at the University of Ottawa law school as the inaugural Cavanagh Williams LLP Practitioner in Residence. The topic was “Ethics in Advocacy”. It was an honour to be a part of the course “Professional Responsibility”. The lecture began with an introduction of the topic by Professor … Continue reading Civility in the Classroom

Trials Then & Now

Thomas Hobbes famously proclaimed in Leviathan that “Where there is no common power, there is no law, where no law, no injustice…No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” Just as life pre-law … Continue reading Trials Then & Now

Law Gurus and Questioning State Authority

There is a new breed of litigants in town. They go by different names: freemen-on-the-land, sovereign men, sovereign citizen, etc. But at their core, they are the same. They refuse to recognize the authority of the courts or the authority of the government. These vexatious litigants are guided by gurus. Gurus that claim that by unlocking … Continue reading Law Gurus and Questioning State Authority

The Implicit Premise Beneath the Surface

The study of law can be disappointing at times, a matter of applying narrow rules and arcane procedure to an uncooperative reality; a sort of glorified accounting that serves to regulate the affairs of those who have power–and that all too often seeks to explain, to those who do not, the ultimate wisdom and justness … Continue reading The Implicit Premise Beneath the Surface

Fighting Fair: From Just Wars to Just Lawsuits

Litigation is like war. Easy to start. Hard to end. Difficult to know how it will turn out. In Fighting Fair: Legal Ethics for an Adversarial Age, legal scholar Allan Hutchinson argues that military ethics should be applied to legal ethics. He points out that merely looking to the laws themselves is not enough for evaluating … Continue reading Fighting Fair: From Just Wars to Just Lawsuits

The Dark Side of Precedent

The doctrine that lower courts must follow the decisions of higher courts is fundamental to our legal system.  It provides certainty while permitting the orderly development of the law in incremental steps.  However, stare decisis is not a straitjacket that condemns the law to stasis.  – Carter v. Canada (Attorney General), 2015 SCC 5 The past haunts the present. Judges … Continue reading The Dark Side of Precedent

Gender Identity and Equality Under the Law

The law bestows rights upon people. The law denies rights to other people. We have a problem when the law arbitrarily deprives people of their deserved rights. Upon inspection it becomes clear that the law marginalizes transgendered individuals through archaic policies and by turning a blind eye to overt discrimination. The television show I Am Cait explores the obstacles … Continue reading Gender Identity and Equality Under the Law

The Case Against Latin

“The one great principle of English law is, to make business for itself.” (Charles Dickens, Bleak House) Part of the way English law makes business for itself is through using Latin jargon, which requires a lawyer to decipher. Luckily, the use of Latin phrases is on the decline. Law schools are shifting away from teaching … Continue reading The Case Against Latin