Constitutional Law…

   May 4, 2014

 Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Chief Justice hits back at Prime Minister over claim of improper call 

 The Chief Justice disputes the PM’s recollection of the facts and the Canadian Bar Association is urging the PM to acknowledge that the Chief Justice did nothing wrong.  The dispute is threatening to become larger than either of the two main players and most observers seem to think the unprecedented attack on the Chief Justice is motivated by a series of legal defeats against the political agenda.   Related article: Canadian Press – Bar association deeply concerned about spat between Harper and SCOC justice   Related article: Globe and Mail – Errol Mendes   Attempt to smear Chief Justice an affront to our constitutional system  Related article – Toronto Star – Chantal Hébert      Feud with Supreme Court part of a pattern for Harper government  

Media Watch – National Council of Canadian Muslims – Kathleen Copps 
Omar Khadr and the Charter of Rights 

 Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Ottawa Constance Backhouse in a review of the Khadr case says that case involves “a shocking dereliction of responsibility” to human rights and humane treatment.  The Supreme Court of Canada agreed in 2010 but provided no remedy so Khadr remains in “illegal incarceration.”

 National Institute of Justice (US)
Social Media and Police Leadership: Lessons from Boston 

 Part of a series of papers from Harvard’s Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety and focused on the Boston police use of social media in the aftermath of the Marathon bombing, this 24 page downloadable pdf discusses what lessons were learned about how to effectively use social media in a crisis.  

 Smart Policing Initiative (US) – Police Executive Research Forum
Legitimacy and Procedural Justice:  A New Element of Police Leadership 

 This article talks about the need for police actions and long term presence to be seen by the community served as legitimate or in the best interests of the community in upholding the law.  The challenge involves managing change while exercising legitimacy and procedural justice as the basis for public trust in the police.  (37 page downloadable PDF)  

 Harvard University – Lisa Fitzgerald
Restorative Justice: Crime as the Violation of Relationships: Lisa Fitzgerald at TEDxHarvardLaw 

 A twelve minute video explaining the RJ movement as healing of a violation of relationship and the various ways the healing can be effected.    The story of Sarah and a safety plan following a rape incident is the focus.  The victim’s experience in the court prompts a discussion of RJ alternatives as well.  

 Toronto Star – Joseph Hall
Lethal injection faces renewed attack  

 In the light of the recent botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma this week, Hall offers a history of the methods of execution used over the years and the public reactions that prompted changes.  Michael Radelet, a professor of sociology at the University of Colorado has studied death penalty issues for 35 years.  Today, says Radelet, “pure retribution has become the dominant reason for the continuance of the death penalty.”    Related Article: UPI – Europe outraged over flawed U.S. execution   Related article:  NPR –  Audie Cornish interviews Richard Dieter, Executive Director of the Detah Penalty Information Center    The Grim History Of The Modern Death Penalty  (Text and a 4 minute audio tape at the link) 

 Press TV (US)
Poor falling farther behind rest of US, study shows 

 The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis has just released a study suggesting that the income inequality is now at a fifty year high in the US.  Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen called the development “one of the most disturbing trends facing the nation.”  

 Pew Charitable Trust Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation (US)
Managing Prison Health Care Spending  

 Acknowledging that health care spending in prisons is putting severe pressure on state budgets, the report reviews the increases over recent years and concludes that significant growth in health costs has accompanied the increase in prisoners.  In fact, the median growth over 44 states has been 52% in the last seven years.   

 Physics Organization (US)
‘US should significantly reduce rate of incarceration,’ says new report 

 The report is from the National Research Council.  “We are concerned that the United States is past the point where the number of people in prison can be justified by social benefits,” said committee chair Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.  After concluding that the present system is too costly for too little return, the committee is advocating for national effort to re-think the role of prisons.