Legal scam?

Oct 20, 2018

Toronto Star – Patricia Winsa
Letters to shoplifters threaten legal action if hundreds in damages aren’t paid — even if the goods are recovered

Here’s a move that lawyers say depends on fear, threat, and ignorance of the law: A child shoplifts something at one of the big stores, is apprehended and the incident is followed by a ‘demand’ letter threatening further sanctions unless amounts well in excess of the value involved are paid to the store.  Quoting “the retailer’s right to recovery” and telling shoplifters they will be “fined” and bathing the process in quasi-legal language is part of the scare, including an allegation that the parent is neglectful of parent obligations.

VERA Institute of Justice (US) –
Re-imaging Prison

Prison reform in the US is prompting widespread efforts to define the parameters of the task.  VERA has produced in the video and in the accompanying commentary an approach to corrections that holds considerable hope for significant changes in the present.  The video is just over three hours and spends time on TRUE, (Truthfulness to self and others, Respectfulness toward the community, Understanding ourselves and what brought us here, and elevating ourselves to success).  The video also delves into some of the European models of prisons and the differences.  Launched in 2016, re-imaging prisons is beginning to offer some creative alternatives:   “We sought to explore how America could do things differently—how we could fundamentally alter the way we view people who make mistakes and come into contact with the justice system and how we could fundamentally alter our conception of the obligations we have to them as fellow human beings in this shared enterprise of democracy. This project, and the resulting report, is—as I said above—nothing like any that Vera has ever done in the past.”

CBC News
4 things you should know about pot pardons, from a Windsor lawyer – Pardons are legally referred to as ‘record suspensions’

The sleight of hand that started with the change from actual pardons to record suspensions, and expunging the criminal record of successful applicants, continues with the federal government’s move towards offering a ‘pardon’ to those previously convicted of marijuana possession.  It appears to depend on who asks if the record is available or not.   Here are four salient facts about the process.

Globe and Mail – Lisa Kerr
If implemented properly, new bill may end solitary confinement in Canada

The federal government recently announced that solitary confinement was changing in the federal prison system and critics wondered if “structural intervention units” would in fact spell the end of “administrative segregation.”  Lisa Kerr, an assistant professor at Queen’s University analyzes the potential, identifies the underlying factors and the various stakeholders, and suggests how in fact it may be so.

CBC Radio – Carol Off – As it happens
Woman who comforted Cpl. Nathan Cirillo urges Canadians to be brave every day in small ways

Four years ago, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was providing part of an honour guard at the National Capital Memorial when he was shot, dying a little later while Barbara Winters, an Ottawa lawyer, held his hand and whispered words of comfort to him.  Winters was one of six who ran to Cirillo and she offers her memories of the event and her summation:  “I told him he was loved and that he was brave and that he was a good man.”   (Link has a 26 minute audio with Carol Off.)

The New Yorker – Jennifer Gonnerman
Larry Krasner’s Campaign to End Mass Incarceration – Philadelphia’s District Attorney reinvents the role of the modern prosecutor.

Krasner is the DA in Philadelphia, the city with the worst record for incarceration in the entire country.  Elected one year ago on a prison reform agenda, Krasner, a former 35 year public defender, and never a prosecutor, is making considerable inroads into a justice system likened to a car crash.  Krasner fired 31 in his office and began to insist that the 16 new lawyers hired know something of the lives and struggles of the mostly poor people charged.  He ended cash bail for non-violent crimes and required prosecutor who asked for a jail sentence to read into the record the actual cost of the sentence at $42,000 per year.

Pacific Standard (Washington state) – Jack Herrera
Sentencing Minors to Life Without Parole Is Declared Unconstitutional in Washington State

Washington State Supreme Court has declared Life Without Parole (LWOP) for juveniles cruel punishment and unconstitutional.  Washington joins 20 other states and the District of Columbia in the assessment as the result of the case of a 33 year old currently in prison for having killed his family when he was 16.  The 5-4 decision comes one week after the same court has outlawed the death penalty.  Related article: Care to Causes –  Judy M. Washington State Overturns the Death Penalty

Globe and Mail – Molly Hayes and Laura Stone

Ford government disbands Liberals’ expert panel to end violence against women

Established in 2015, the Roundtable on Violence against Women was composed of volunteers of some two dozen organizations of women with many “that have experience with specific populations, including Indigenous women, immigrants, older women, LGBTQ people and sex workers.”  “These are largely grassroots folks who contributed a lot of their own time to assisting the previous government, and who were prepared to continue contributing that time,” said Ms. Cross, who is a lawyer. “And I think they’re pretty disappointed and angry.”

Toronto Star – Canadian Press
Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson is part of a test case before the courts to test the right of a public official to block members of the public from monitoring and responding to twitter feed.  “I have the right not to be attacked and harassed by the same individuals on a regular basis,” he said in a brief statement. “I believe in civility in public discourse, and this type of behaviour would not be tolerated in a face-to-face debate. I look forward to dealing with this matter in due course.”  Three citizens have charged that Watson is infringing their right to freedom of expression.