Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A lonely vigil!

Good Day Readers:

As we left the Law Courts Building today near closing time we looked back to see Kelly Clarke's parents and a younger lady sitting alone outside Courtroom 120 waiting for news. It was really very sad as we thought, "What did they ever do to deserve this?" Decent people caught up in a real tragedy. They were present throughout the trial.

Clare L. Pieuk
Jury in Manitoba double murder trial deliberates

CBC News
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A jury continues to deliberate late Wednesday in the trial of Kelly Clarke, who is accused of gunning down a Winnipeg couple in their home in 2008.

Clarke, 41, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Joel Labossiere, 34, and his wife, Magdalena, 33, who were found shot "execution-style" in their St. Vital home on April 20, 2008.

Following a trial that began November 16 in Winnipeg, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Saull spent Wednesday morning reviewing the evidence and preparing the 12 jurors for deliberations.

Saull told the jury not to speculate about issues that could not be answered by the evidence, and said they need to find Clarke guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, not just "probably" or "likely" guilty.

The jury must also determine if Clarke should be found guilty of first-degree murder, by deciding if the killings were planned and deliberate, Saull said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Crown counsel Gerry Bowering said the evidence against Clarke is "overwhelming," reminding jurors about testimony from Steven Solomon, a one-time friend of the accused.

Court has heard that Solomon had led police to a shotgun, clothes and discarded shells that were allegedly used in the Labossiere shootings.

However, defence lawyers argued that Solomon is an unreliable witness who had lied to police several times.

The trial has been an emotional and difficult one for family members of Clarke and the Labossieres. Several relatives of the slain couple have sat in the courthouse, hearing graphic details of the killings.

Your favourite?

Decision time in Courtroom 120!

Good Day Readers:

Queen's Bench Justice Richard A. Saull is expected to charge the jury this morning in the 2-week trial of Kelly Clarke accused of the double shotgun slaying of Joel and Magdalena Labossiere in their Winnipeg home during April of 2008,
Having sat through the entire proceeding we do not expect a lengthy deliberation with a decision possibly by close of business today. Justice Saull was most impressive in his conduct of the trial.

Clare L. Pieuk

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At The Law Courts!

Good Day Readers:

What was expected to be a rather quiet day turned out to be somewhat eventful. Was one of only a couple in the public gallery of courtroom 120 this morning where Kelly Clarke is on trial for the April 2008 double slaying of Joel and Magdalena Labossiere in their Winnipeg home. The jury had been excused so we cannot report on the proceedings. What we can tell you, however, is Justice Richard A. Saull is expected to deliver his charge to the jury tomorrowing morning at 10:00 after which deliberations will begin.

No sooner had we departed the courtroom when "Sid the Kid" approached us with news the jury had reached a verdict in the trial of the "Native Syndicate 4" being retried for the March 2005 beating death of a fellow inmate and gang member at Stony Mountain Institution. BTW, our "Sid the Kid" is an older gentleman and regular at the Courthouse who seems to know everybody.

It's amazing how news of a decision in a jury trial travels like wildfire throughout the courthouse - it seems the media were all over the place within minutes. What surprised us was how relaxed, smiling and almost jocular the accused seemed before and even, although perhaps less so, after the decisions were delivered given in Canada:

Second Degree Murder

Penalities range from life (25-years) no parole for ten years to life until you are eligible for parole.


Sentencing options are more complicated because there is no minimum. They can vary from probation (unlikely) to life in jail. Often those found guilty will serve medium range penitentiary sentences of approximately 7-15 years.

The jury was re-called and the Forman asked by the Court Clerk for each of the accused whether they were guilty/not guilty of second degree murder then the same for manslaughter.

Messrs Victor Ryle (represented by Martin Glazer and Co-Counsel), Alvin Cote (Ryan Rolston), Charles Coaster (Darren Sawchuk) were found guilty of manslaughter. Evan Myran (Roberta Campbell) was acquitted.

The jury was excused briefly and upon its return each member at the request of Mr. Glazer was polled individually as to how they had voted for Mr. Ryle. It was 12-0 for guilty.

The three guilty will be sentenced in December unless there are appeal(s). Evan Myran will be released early January after he finishes serving time on another conviction.

The jury took less than a day to reach its decision. Queen's Bench Justice Lori T. Spivak is no expected to sentence the convicted until early January of next year.

Come January we will be covering 4-high profile trials about which we'll be advising you shortly save for one. Private research has lead us to conclude it would be far too inappropriate for us to go public with our findings at this time. In fact, we may not even be able to discuss the case until the appeal process, assuming there is one, has been exhausted. Once we explain our reasoning we're sure you'll understand.

Finally sentencing of the two RCMP officers (Moyse/Ens) recently convicted of assaulting a prisoner in their custody will take place Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. before Justice Perry Schulman. The number of the courtroom in unknown at this time.

Clare L. Pieuk

Monday, November 28, 2011

Zaarly it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A New Kind of Task Master: Virtual Assistants

Virtual assistants apps like Zaarly and Task Rabbit are creating mobile marketplace for peer-to-peer transactions in real time adn in the immediate vicinity of the users. WSJ's Andy Jordan checks out a few and farms out the bathing of his own cat.

This year's winners of our annual Geritol Award!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The New Rule: "It's easier for some to make a lot of money while others fall farther behind!"

Good Day Readers:

Didn't seem that long ago Bill Clinton both as a candidate and President suggested this generation would be the first to do worse than their parents - the term "99 percenters" hadn't been invented yet. Seems he was right.

Clare L. Pieuk
The Dwindling Power of a College Degree
A drafter at work 1952

By Adam Davidson
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The 2012 presidential election can be seen as offering a choice between two visions of how to return us to this country’s golden age — from roughly 1945 to around 1973 — when working life was most secure for many Americans, particularly white, middle-class men. President Obama said his jobs plan was for people who believed “if you worked hard and played by the rules, you would be rewarded.” Mitt Romney explained his goal was to restore hope for “folks who grew up believing that if they played by the rules . . . they would have the chance to build a good life.” But these days, many workers have lost a near guarantee on a decent wage and benefits — and their careers are likely to have much more volatility (great years; bad years; confusing, mediocre years) than their parents’ ever did. So when did the rules change?

Deep Thoughts For This Week

1. The economic rules have been changing since the '70s.

2. The United States produces a large number of workers whose skills aren't needed.

3. Inequality is even more rampant than you think.
Inequality exists not only between classes but also within professions

It has been hard to keep track. Over the past four decades, we have experienced the oil embargo, Carter-era malaise and a few recessions. Mixed in were the thrills of the late 1990s and mid-aughts, when it seemed as if you were a sap if you weren’t getting rich or at least trying. But these dramas prevented many of us from realizing that the economic logic was changing fundamentally. Starting in the 1970s, labor was upended by a lot more than just formal government work rules. Increased global trade devastated workers in many industries, especially textiles, apparel, toys, furniture and electronics assembly. Computers and other technological innovations had an arguably greater impact. While factories continue to make more stuff in the United States than ever before, employment in them has collapsed.

Computers have hurt workers outside factories too. Picture the advertising agency in “Mad Men,” and think about the abundance of people who were hired to do jobs that are now handled electronically by small machines. Countless secretaries were replaced by word processing, voice mail, e-mail and scheduling software; accounting staff by Excel; people in the art department by desktop design programs. This is also true of trades like plumbing and carpentry, in which new technologies replaced a bunch of people who most likely stood around helping measure things and making sure everything worked correctly.

As a result, the people whose jobs remained valuable in that “Mad Men” office were then freed up to do more valuable things. A talented art director could produce more work more quickly with InDesign. A bright accountant could spend more time thinking of new ways to make and save money, rather than spending endless hours punching numbers into an adding machine. Global trade works much the same way. It’s horrible news for a textile factory worker in North Carolina, but it may be great for a fashion designer in New York.
It used to be that if you worked hard you were guaranteed a certain kind of life. There are reasons success is no longer a straight shot.

A general guideline these days is that people are rewarded when they can do things that take trained judgment and skill — things, in other words, that can’t be done by computers or lower-wage workers in other countries. Money now flows around the world so quickly, and technology changes so fast, that people who thought they were in high demand find themselves uprooted. Many newspaper reporters have learned that their work was subsidized, in part, by classified ads and now can’t survive the rise of Craigslist; computer programmers have found out that some smart young guys in India will do their jobs for much less. Meanwhile, China lends so much money to the United States that mortgage brokers and bond traders can become richer than they ever imagined for a few years and then, just as quickly, become broke and unemployed.

One of the greatest changes is that a college degree is no longer the guarantor of a middle-class existence. Until the early 1970s, less than 11 percent of the adult population graduated from college, and most of them could get a decent job. Today nearly a third have college degrees, and a higher percentage of them graduated from nonelite schools. A bachelor’s degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability. To get a good job, you have to have some special skill — charm, by the way, counts — that employers value. But there’s also a pretty good chance that by some point in the next few years, your boss will find that some new technology or some worker overseas can replace you.

Though it’s no guarantee, a B.A. or some kind of technical training is at least a prerequisite for a decent salary. It’s hard to see any great future for high-school dropouts or high-school graduates with no technical skills. They most often get jobs that require little judgment and minimal training, like stocking shelves, cooking burgers and cleaning offices. Employers generally see these unskilled workers as commodities — one is as good as any other — and thus each worker has very little bargaining power, especially now that unions are weaker. There are about 40 million of these low-skilled people in our work force. They’re vying for jobs that are likely to earn near the minimum wage with few or no benefits, and they have a high chance of being laid off many times in a career.

Global trade and technology are significant trends, but they’re not laws and policies. The actual rules have also changed notably since the 1970s. Back then, there were all sorts of stabilizers that pushed working-class wages up and kept rich people’s wages lower. The minimum wage, at its pre-1970s peak, was almost 50 percent higher than it is now (inflation adjusted, naturally). Unions were stronger and had more government support. The United States taxed the rich much higher relative to the working class. (The top bracket was taxed at 70 percent in 1978; now it’s 35 percent.) It’s hard to imagine, but regulations largely limited the profitability of banks and kept bankers’ financial compensation low.

The new rules, combined with the other major changes, have effectively removed both the floor and the ceiling. It’s easier for some to make a lot more money and for others to fall much further behind. That has meant a huge increase in inequality. The top 1 percent of families now makes 26 times the average of the other 99 percent (the ratio was 11 to 1 in 1979). The top 0.1 percent makes 130 times the bottom 99 (up from a 38-to-1 ratio 40 years ago). And the inequality is not just between classes. The average wages of the average American have stayed largely flat for decades, but those averages hide a lot of volatility, as more people find themselves at the extremes of wealth or poverty. A successful plumber who has mastered all the new water-flow sensor technology and pipe-fitting innovations (and is probably in a union) can make more than $100,000 a year, while other plumbers, who just know the basics, could make less than $20,000.

The increasingly vicious battle between left and right is, at the most basic level, a dispute over how to respond to these new rules. Republicans largely claim that the new rules will make the country richer and, in the long run, will be beneficial to everyone willing to put in the hard work. Few Democrats call for a return to record high taxes and trade barriers — after all, the free flow of cheap goods has helped many, particularly the poor. But many do want a return to the spirit of the old rules, when the government sought to make life more equal, more stable and, for some, less rewarding. The rest of us, meanwhile, should go to school, learn some skills and prepare for a rocky road.

Adam Davidson is a founder NPR's “Planet Money,” a podcast, blog and radio series heard on “Morning Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “This American Life.”

The perfect terrorist!

Watch A Perfect Terrorist on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

And then ..... and then .....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

He's back!

FBI gave ‘citizen sleuths’ special access to D.B. Cooper files to help solve mystery

November 25, 2011

Forty years after his daring flight into criminal history the identity of mysterious hijacker-parachutist “D.B. Cooper” remains one of the great unsolved crimes of our time.

New clues about the unidentified man who got away with a $200,000 ransom — or died trying — have led an FBI-backed team of “citizen sleuths” to conclude that he may have been a military-trained, French-Canadian factory manager or chemical engineer, probably from outside of Quebec. Undated handout of the cover of 1960s-era French-language comic book featuring the character Dan Cooper, a Royal Canadian Air Froce test pilot who battles enemies on earth and in space.

The potential Canadian connection to one of the FBI’s most famous cold cases was first raised in 2009, when the U.S. agency revealed that Cooper appeared to have fashioned his identity and modus operandi from a 1960s-era, French-language comic book about a Royal Canadian Air Force test pilot and space traveller named Dan Cooper.

Now, the Cooper Research Team, headed by three civilian investigators who have had “special access” to FBI evidence files since 2009, is scheduled to discuss its probe of the case at a 40th anniversary D.B. Cooper symposium on Saturday in Portland.

The informally deputized investigators, who were invited to analyze the Cooper mystery by Seattle-based FBI agent Larry Carr, are Tom Kaye, a paleontologist at Seattle’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Illinois-based metallurgical engineer Alan Stone and University of Chicago scientific illustrator Carol Abraczinskas.

“It’s a great mystery. What happened to this guy? The last thing we knew, he had $200,000 and bailed out of the back of a 727. And from there, we don’t know,” said Carr in this YouTube video embedded on the FBI’s website.

According to files archived by the FBI, some people applauded Cooper’s caper as heroic, which a sociology professor at the time referred to as the Robin Hood syndrome.

“We all like adventure stories,” said Dr. Otto Larsen in an archived report. “That hijacker took the greatest ultimate risk. He showed real heroic features — mystery, drama, romanticism, a high degree of skill and all the necessities for the perfect crime. This man was neither political nor neurotic. His motive was simply $200,000 and people can understand that.”

In 1971, months before Cooper bought his ticket for the fabled flight, The Daily Telegraph ran an article about a man describing himself as “Mr. Brown,” who hoaxed Australia’s Qantas Airline into paying 235,000 pounds in ransom money after a bomb threat, according to an FBI report dated December 8, 1971. The description of the unidentified suspect were believed to be remarkably similar to sketches of D.B. Cooper.The Cooper case was revived in 2006 when the FBI used the 35th anniversary of the hijacking to retell the story of what it calls “one of our greatest unsolved mysteries.”

Carr later released composite sketches of the suspect and photos of key evidence collected during the original investigation, inviting the public to send in fresh clues to help solve the mystery.

The man calling himself Dan Cooper had claimed, during an afternoon flight between Portland and Seattle, to a have a bomb in his briefcase. When the plane landed in Seattle, 36 passengers were released after the hijacker received $200,000 in cash and four parachutes.

He then ordered the plane’s flight crew to take off for Mexico and — at an unknown location south of Seattle — the man parachuted from a rear door of the jet.

Carr and other experts have stated that it’s unlikely Cooper survived the nighttime jump over rugged land in a driving rain.

But the suspect’s body has never been found. In 1980, along the Columbia River in southwest Washington state, a boy found a rotting package of $5,800 in $20 bills that matched the serial numbers of the ransom money.

With files from Postmedia News

You're fired!

10 things people ask employment lawyers
November 24, 2011 By sherylsmolkin

You have a great job, but out of the blue, your employer says you are going to have to take a salary cut, or your position has been eliminated. Or you are fired after you have been on sick leave.What are your rights and what you should do next?

Koskie Minsky LLP partner Arleen Huggins counsels clients facing situations like these every day, so I asked her to put together the top 10 employment law questions she is asked and how she answers them.

Here is her list:

1. Can I be transferred without my consent?

No you can't unless you signed a contract allowing your employer to do so. An unauthorized transfer could be considered as constructive dismissal.

Nevertheless, a unilateral transfer to a comparable position (for example, a lateral transfer in the course of a restructuring) is ordinarily acceptable.

2. Can my employer cancel or modify my insurance or pension benefits?

An employer cannot cancel or significantly modify your group insurance benefits without giving you reasonable notice, unless the terms of your employment contract or the Employee Handbook states benefits can be modified or cancelled without notice. Pension benefits are more complex, as they are governed by complex pension legislation and other common law fiduciary obligations.

3. What do I do if my manager is harassing me?

Depending upon the nature of the harassment, both human rights legislation and recent health and safety amendments protect you from workplace harassment by co-workers, managers/supervisors and other specified people. You should report the harassment to your supervisor /manager in writing or, if the supervisor/manager is the harassing party, to senior management or to the HR department.

4. If I’m paid an annual salary, do I get overtime?

Whether you are paid hourly or an annual salary, you are generally entitled to overtime pay of at least one and one half times your regular rate for each hour of work in excess of 44 hours in each work week. However, there are exclusions - for example if the type of work you do is supervisory or managerial.

5. How many letters of warning can I get before I am fired?

There is no specified number of verbal or written warnings required to fire you. It will depend upon the nature of the your conduct which the employer views as "just cause." However, in most instances, just cause for termination due to poor performance must be preceded by progressive discipline.

6. Can I be fired for failing to hit my sales targets?

Yes. However, progressive discipline would ordinarily be first required as well as regard to the terms of the employment contract.

7. Can I be fired if I’m off sick for a prolonged period?

If the length of time you are can't do the essential duties of your job because you are absent due to illness is prolonged, you could be fired - but only after your employer both takes the facts in your situation into consideration and obtains sufficient medical documentation to show that you cannot return to work in the foreseeable future. In these circumstances, you would still be entitled to receive termination pay and severance pay.

8.Must my employer give me my old job when I return from maternity or parental leave?

You are entitled to be reinstated to the position you most recently held prior to the leave, if it still exists, or to a comparable position, if it does not. However, if the employer can prove that the job position legitimately no longer exists (i.e. a general downsizing for economic reasons), the entitlement to get your job back does not apply.

9. What are my legal rights if I’m fired without cause?

Subject to the terms of an employment contract, you are entitled to, at a minimum, statutory notice of termination or pay in lieu and severance pay as provided by the Employment Standards Act.

Often an employee will be entitled to common law notice in an amount which is greater than the statutory minimums, depending upon a number of factors, including his age, length of service, income and position. However, common law notice includes the statutory minimums.

10. Can I compete with my employer if I resign from my position or I am fired?

Generally, the Courts do not tend to enforce non-competition agreements unless it is in the context of the sale of a business where the seller continues to work for the buyer. However, depending upon how the agreement is worded, the Courts will more often enforce a non-solicitation agreement, whether the employee is terminated or voluntarily resigns.

In all cases, Huggins says available remedies will depend on your particular fact situation, and independent legal advice is advisable before signing a release or agreeing to a settlement. Also in a unionized environment, many of the issues discussed above like benefit changes, progressive discipline and seniority may be governed by the collective agreement.

Also read: Courts limit impact of non-compete clauses, An employment contract can help if you are fired and How to get a fair settlement if you are fired.

Sheryl Smolkin is a Toronto lawyer, writer and editor. She can be contacted through her website or you can follow her on Twitter @SherylSmolkin.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The plagiarizing judge?

Lawsuit headed to Supreme Court over judge's plagiarism

By Kenyon Wallace
Thursday, November 24, 2011

A malpractice lawsuit launched by a B.C. woman on behalf of her brain-damaged son is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada after a multi-million dollar settlement was overturned because the judge in the case plagiarized most of his decision.

Monica Cojocaru successfully sued the B.C. Women’s Hospital and several of its medical staff for negligence three years ago after her son, Eric, was born with permanent brain damage.

The judge in the original case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Joel Groves, found that the hospital and doctors were responsible when Cojocaru’s uterus ruptured, sending the fetus into her abdominal cavity and depriving it of oxygen for more than 20 minutes.

But Justice Groves’ decision to award Cojocaru $4 million in damages was overturned by the B.C. Court of Appeal, which found 321 of 368 paragraphs in his ruling were copied “almost word-for-word” from the plaintiff’s written submissions.

“I’m feeling sadness and happiness at the same time,” Cojocaru told the Star upon learning her case was destined for the highest court. “I’m sad because I still wonder why we had to get here, why things weren’t dealt with in the proper way, why it has taken so long. The roller coaster hasn’t stopped for us.”

The 43-year-old single mother said Eric, now 10, has struggled all his life with his cerebral palsy. The Grade 5 special-needs student has almost no short-term memory. He can’t read or write. He falls down frequently because his balance is off.

“Every evening when I put him to sleep, I always think of the other children who are listening to stories,” said Cojocaru, who works as a pharmacy technician in East Vancouver. “Instead I have to repeat to him over and over what day it is tomorrow and that he’s going to go to school.”

She says Eric needs extensive occupational, speech and physiotherapy treatments, which she would have been able to provide had the B.C. Court of Appeal upheld her victory.

“All those years, if he would have gotten the help he needed, he would have been able to live an easier life. But we did not get the help we needed.”

In its ruling earlier this year, the B.C. Court of Appeal reasoned that to allow Groves’ original decision to stand would “undermine support for the legitimacy of the justice system.”

“We conclude that the reasons for judgment must be rejected because they cannot be taken to represent the trial judge’s analysis of the issues or the reasoning for his conclusions,” the court wrote. “Rather than exhibiting any sign that the trial judge grappled with the difficult issues confronting him, one is left with page after page of wholesale, uncritical reproduction of the respondents’ written submissions.”

The Supreme Court of Canada did not give reasons Thursday for why it decided to give Cojocaru leave to appeal.

Dan Shugarman, Cojocaru’s lawyer, said it is important for the high court to examine how judges across the country look to prosecution and defence counsel for guidance in rendering their decisions.

“I’d like to think that the Supreme Court agreeing to look at the Court of Appeal’s decision is also to some degree suggestive that they felt my client’s case itself was sufficiently important that it warranted a look as well,” he said. “It has given her some comfort and faith that our system may end up resulting in her having some justice.”

Judgment day at The Law Courts!

Good Day Readers:

Thursday Defence lawyer Greg Brodsky completed his cross-examination of star witness Steven Solomon in the 2008 double slaying of Joel and Magdalena Labossiere after which the jury was excused with instructions to return Monday morning. Today's session cannot be covered by the media because the jury will be absent. Monday both sides are expected to make their final submissions. Tuesday Justice Richard Saull is expected to charge the jury after which it will begin deliberating.

In the case of 4 Native Syndicate members being retried for the March 2005 beating death of a fellow inmate at Stony Mountain Institution, there will be another session today but again the jury has been excluded. It's anticipated Queen's bench Justice Lori Spivak will charge the jury next Monday.

Finally, during a lunch break in the Labossiere trial we attended part of the sentence hearing for two Manitoba Mounties recently convicted of assaulting a handcuffed man in the parking lot of a rural bar. Corporal Jeffrey Moyse was represented by Sarah Inness (Campbell Gunn Inness) while noted criminal Defence lawyer Richard Wolson acted for Constable Trevor Ens. Both argued before Queen's Bench Justice Perry Schulman their clients' should be given conditional sentences so as to avoid jail time. Should the officers be incarcerated the RCMP will in all likelihood remove them from The Force.

The Crown was represented by Ryan Rolston.

Clare L. Pieuk

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How safe is your Facebook account?

Hackers go after Facebook sites 600,000 times every Day
Hackers are breaking into hundreds of thousands of Facebook accounts every day, the social network has admitted By Emma Barnett, Digital Media Editor
Saturday, October 29, 2011

Out of more than a billion logins to the website every 24 hours, 600,000 are impostors attempting to access users’ messages, photos and other personal information Facebook said.

The figure is the first time that Facebook has revealed how it is bombarded by hackers on a daily basis.

It was revealed as part of a Facebook blog post announcing a couple of new security measures being implemented across the site over the coming weeks to tackle these sorts of breaches.

Security experts have said the figure is a “big concern” and that people need to be more careful when choosing their passwords and responding to offers supposedly from friends on Facebook.

Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, a computer security organisation, said: “When a Facebook login is compromised, it means that someone else, the hacker, has taken control of that account.

“When a hacker takes over a user’s Facebook account, they can post images, send messages and access all of that person’s private information in one fell swoop. Facebook has had a lot of security issues which it is now trying to address.”

The most common reason for hackers to breach Facebook users’ accounts is so that they can spread scams and send false offers to the member’s friends in an attempt to sell counterfeit goods and benefit financially.

Cluley said it was becoming easier to hack into more users’ Facebook accounts as thirty per cent of people online are using the same passwords across all of their digital accounts – making it simpler for hackers to control a person’s entire web identity.

He also warned that growing numbers of teenagers are hacking into the Facebook accounts of their school rivals in order to post malicious messages and photos on their behalf.

Facebook declined to comment.

Increasingly more people are also duped into sharing their login details on fake sites, a process called phishing, which gives hackers access to passwords and email accounts.

Security experts have advised people to choose complicated passwords in order to avoid any of their personal online accounts being hacked and to have different ones for every single digital service they use.

It is understood that out of the approximate 600,000 ‘compromised Facebook logins’ a day, not all of them are successful as Facebook is able in certain circumstances to block some pre-emptively using location technology.

The social network is rolling out two new features in an attempt to further protect Facebook users’ security. ‘Trusted Friends’ is a tool which will allow users to nominate three to five ‘trusted friends’ to be sent login codes if a person is locked out of their account, having had their password changed by a hacker.

The site is also introducing passwords for apps, meaning members do not have to use the same logins for different third party services they access via Facebook – such as Spotify.

Facebook is the largest social network in the world with more than 800 million members who spend more than a total of 700 billion minutes on the site per month. Half of the UK now have accounts on the site which was created and still run by Mark Zuckerberg, a 27 year-old technology entrepreneur. The average user has 130 friends on the service.

Emma Barnett is The Telegraph's award-winning Digital Media Editor, writing news, features and profiles about all forms of digital media, including digital start ups, social networks, growing trends, and new initiatives from both traditional media companies and digital firms. She also writes a monthly column in The Sunday Telegraph's 'ThinkTank' section in which she analyses what the latest technology and digital media trends mean for businesses worldwide. Follow her on Twitter: @emmabarnett.

..... and in Manitoba?

Good Day Readers:

After reading the Techland article we wondered whether this is an issue in Manitoba at the provinces two correctional facilities (Headingly Correctional Centre, Milner Ridge Correctional Centre), as well as, Corrections Canada's Stony Mountain Institution. If prisoners are given access to computers does that include the internet? Is smuggling smart phones into these locations a problem? Stay tuned as we try to get answers.

Clare L. Pieuk
Social Networking

Inmates Harass Victims via Facebook

By Associated Press
Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — Lisa Gesik hesitates to log into her Facebook account nowadays because of unwanted “friend” requests, not from long-ago classmates but from the ex-husband now in prison for kidnapping her and her daughter.

Neither Gesik nor prison officials can prove her ex-husband is sending her the messages, which feature photos of him wearing his prison blues and dark sunglasses, arms crossed as he poses in front of a prison gate. It doesn’t matter if he’s sending them or someone else is – the Newport, Oregon woman is afraid and, as the days tick down to his January release, is considering going into hiding with her 12-year-old daughter.

“It’s just being victimized all over again,” she said.

Across the U.S. and beyond, inmates are using social networks and the growing numbers of smartphones smuggled into prisons and jails to harass their victims or accusers and intimidate witnesses. California corrections officials who monitor social networking sites said they have found many instances in which inmates taunted victims or made unwanted sexual advances.

Like Gesik’s case, it’s often difficult for authorities to determine for sure who’s sending the threatening material and the few people caught rarely face serious consequences.

“The ability to have these kinds of contacts is increasing exponentially. In many ways, the law has not caught up with these changing technologies,” said Rob Bovett, an Oregon district attorney whose office prosecuted Gesik’s ex-husband, Michael Gladney.

Timothy Heaphy, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, said criminals’ use of social networks to reach witnesses has made his job harder.

“We deal every day with witnesses who are afraid of being identified,” he said. “If there are increased instances where folks who are incarcerated can reach outside the walls of the jail, that’s going to make it more difficult for us to get cooperation.”

In a rare victory, Heaphy’s office successfully prosecuted John Conner and Whitney Roberts after they set up a Facebook account that Conner used to intimidate witnesses preparing to testify against him on charges of burning two houses to punish a girlfriend and collect the insurance.

“How the hell can u b a gangsta when u snitchin and lien…,” said a post from the pair that publicly exposed one witness who cooperated with law enforcement, according to federal court records.

The issue has emerged as cell phones have proliferated behind bars. In California, home to the nation’s largest inmate population, the corrections department confiscated 12,625 phones in just 10 months this year. Six years ago, they found just 261. The number of phones confiscated by the federal Bureau of Prisons has doubled since 2008, to 3,684 last year.

Noting the increase, California legislators approved a law bringing up to six months in jail for corrections employees or visitors who smuggle mobile devices into state prisons, while inmates caught with the phones can now lose up to 180 days of early-release credit. But no additional time is added to their sentence, minimizing the deterrence factor.

Page 2 of 2

In the old days, those behind bars would have to enlist a relative or friend to harass or intimidate to get around no-contact orders. Social networks now cut out the middle man.

In Gesik’s case, Gladney used to harass her the old-fashioned way, sending letters and making phone calls through third parties. The Facebook harassment began in June.

Gesik, 44, got prison officials to contact Facebook to remove that account, only to have another message appearing to be from him in September. This time, there was a different spelling of his last name.

“I figure, if he’s done all this from in prison, what’s he’s going to do when he gets out?” Gesik said.

A gap in state law meant that “no contact” orders like the one Gesik obtained against Gladney were deemed not to apply to anyone in custody, said Bovett, the prosecutor. “So they could do these very creative ways of reaching victims through third parties,” he said.

Last June, Oregon legislators approved a law prohibiting inmates from contacting their domestic violence victims from behind bars.

In California, prison officials are working with Facebook to identify inmate accounts and take them down. But that only generally happens only after the damage is done.

In this photo taken November 4, 2011, Karen Carrisosa is seen with a photo of her and her husband Larry, at the site where he was killed in Sacramento, California. Carrisosa became concerned when officials found a Facebook posting from Corcoran State Prison inmate Fredrick Garner who is serving a 22-year, involuntary manslaughter sentence for killing Larry 11 years ago. Carrisosa is a victim of a disturbing trend: Inmates who use smuggled mobile devices or work through third parties to access social networking sites giving them the ability to harass their victims and victim's families. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) Karen Carrisosa, who lives in a Sacramento suburb, was aghast when officials found Facebook postings from Corcoran State Prison inmate Fredrick Garner. Garner is serving a 22-year, involuntary manslaughter sentence for killing her husband, 50-year-old Larry Carrisosa, outside a church 11 years ago.

“My kids, they go on Facebook, I go on Facebook, and what if they decide to look us up?” Carrisosa said.

She was alerted by a Sacramento television station that Garner was posting messages to his mother and others. Garner was punished with a 30-day reduction in his early release credits for possessing a forbidden cell phone and has since been transferred to Salinas Valley State Prison.

Hector Garcia Jr. used a smuggled smart phone hidden in his cell at Kern Valley State Prison to rally support on Facebook for an inmate hunger strike this summer that sought improved living conditions for gang leaders housed in special secure cellblocks.

“Starving for my better future,” he posted, according a July 1 screen grab from the corrections department. “Let’s do this … statewide …”

The discovery rattled Isabel Gutierrez. Garcia murdered one of her sons and wounded another in January 2005. Now Gutierrez fears her own social-networking left her vulnerable.

“I panicked,” she said. “My photos are up of my family and my grandkids. I felt like they can see into my world.”

Guards found Garcia’s phone, punishing him with a 30-day cut in early-release credits and 30 days’ loss of yard, TV and radio privileges.

Attorneys who represented Garcia and Gladney in their previous criminal trials did not return phone calls seeking comment on behalf of their former clients.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How say you jury?

Good Day Readers:

After the Labossiere trial was adjourned for the day in Courtroom 120 (shortly we'll have a posting about what transpired today), we headed to 214 where Winnipeg criminal defence lawyer Roberta Campbell (Campbell Gunn Inness) was part way through her address to the jury on behalf of her client.We have given top priority to the Labossiere trial so our recent attendance in 214 has been sporadic as time permitted, therefore, we are unable to comment on its content other than to say her approach appeared effective. The jury was then dismissed for the day.

An issue had arisen so Justice Lori T. Spivak called a 15-minute recess after which counsel returned and the matter was discussed. Since the jury was not present that's as far as we can go other than to say proceedings will resume at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, November 25 to hear the decision. As noted in the Winnipeg Free Press article Justice Spivak is expected to charge the jury after which it will begin deliberating. It is not known whether it will be "separated" (allowed to return home after each day's deliberations) or sequestered - we suspect the former.

Court adjourned at approximately 5:15.

Clare L. Pieuk
Latest News
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Deadly gang beating case goes to jury
By: Mike McIntyre
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The fate of four men accused of a deadly gang beating inside Stony Mountain penitentiary is now in the hands of a Winnipeg jury.

Crown and defence lawyers made their closing arguments Wednesday, each side giving a drastically different view of the evidence called during the past two weeks.

Deliberations are expected to begin Monday.

David Tavares, 40, died of massive trauma after being jumped by several other prisoners in March 2005. Victor Ryle is accused of ordering the attack and has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter. Alvin Cote, Charles Coaster and Evan Myran are accused of carrying out the fatal beating and are charged with second-degree murder.
"You can come to one conclusion, and one conclusion only," Crown attorney Brian Bell said during his final pitch to the jury. He said the evidence is clear, thanks to testimony of two key witnesses who gave a detailed description of the how the deadly attack went down.

But defence lawyers cautioned jurors not to believe the testimony of two convicted felons, suggesting they downplayed their own role in the case to avoid prosecution.
"One liar cannot collaborate the word of another liar. Zero plus zero is still zero," said Martin Glazer.

The Crown has suggested members of a Winnipeg street gang went too far with a "disciplinary hearing" that turned deadly inside. Jurors heard that Tavares wasn’t originally marked for death when a high-ranking decision among inmates was made to go after him inside the medium-security prison north of Winnipeg. But the attack quickly got out of hand and ended with Tavares suffering massive trauma.

Tavares was jumped while in a prison recreation room. He was punched and fell to the floor near some pool tables, where he was repeatedly kicked in the head. The attackers dragged him to a washroom. The unconscious Tavares was found only after the recreation centre was closed for the day and staff were making sure everybody was out. He was taken to the infirmary, where he was pronounced dead.

Tavares was in Stony Mountain serving a 39-month sentence for driving-related offences. Jurors heard he became a member of the Native Syndicate while in prison but had angered fellow gang members by his conduct, which included openly complaining about several people owing him money.

Tavares had also obtained contraband alcohol and was drinking on the day he was killed, according to the Crown. A decision was made to discipline Tavares by assaulting him in the form of a time beating.

One of the Crown’s key witnesses was another gang member who was in Stony and claims he was tasked with "timing" the attack. The accused were much bigger than Tavares, who only stood about 5-10 and weighed about 190 pounds, court was told.

Tavares is originally from Thunder Bay and had been jailed after a June 28, 2000 drunk-driving incident in which his pickup truck, leaving Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario, went out of control and rolled over, injuring its occupants.

The People's Court disappearance!

The Fairy Godmother of fashion!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Exclusive: Lady Gaga's New Song

Gaga previews "marry the Night" and talks fame, family and holiday rituals.

The mystery deepens!

Good Day Readers:

Spent yesterday at the Law Courts covering the Labossiere trial. Everytime Steven Solomon entered and departed the courtroom (at least on one occasion the jury was excused along with the witness plus a short afternoon recess), he was accompanied by "3-burly gentleman" one can only assume were police officers.

Throughout Mr. Solomon's testimony the courtroom was so riveting you could hear a pin drop.

The media has reported Jerome and two others (unnamed) have been charged with the 2005 murders of parents' Fernand and Rita Labossiere along with son Remi at the family home near St. Leon, Manitoba. We have checked with both Queen's Bench and Provincial Court File Registeries and only found in the latter a reference to someone who was initially charged with 3-counts of first degree murder.

To our surprise it was not that of Jerome Labossiere but of someone whose name, to the best of our understanding, has not yet come up in testimony. Even more intriguing the charges were stayed (dropped) on June 14, 2010.

A word of caution is in order. Given poor acoustics in many courtrooms at The Law Courts, it is indeed quite possible at times to miss what is said by witnesses, counsel and judges. That notwithstanding, and assuming the indivudual named in court records has no connection to the Labossiere case whatsoever, the question becomes why were charges so serious dropped? We have chosen not to name the person because the indictments were stayed. While still on the subject of hearing, Justice Richard Saull is to be commended for his efforts to ensure everyone can hear by constantly reminding witnesses to keep the desk microphone no more than a foot from them.

Another trial we'll be following is that of Mark Jacob Stobbe scheduled to open during January of 2012. Mr. Stobbe was charged in 2008 with the murder of his 42-year old wife whose body was found in a car at a Selkirk, Manitoba parking lot.

If hallway chatter means anything it could be a lengthy trial. Rumour has it a large whack of subpoenas have been issued.

Finally, the trial of 4-Native Syndicate Stoney Mountain inmates being retried in the 20005 beating death of fellow inmate David Tavares (Courtroom 214). The Crown and Defence lawyers are expected to begin their final submissions to the jury. Justice Lori Spivak could give her final charge as early as Monday of next week. After that the deliberations will begin. We do not know if the jury will be sequestered.

Clare L. Pieuk
Key witness testifies at double-murder trial
CBC News

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Double murder trial hears from deceased witness
The jury in a Manitoba double-murder trial began hearing testimony from the Crown's key witness, a one-time friend of the accused killer.A court sketch of Kelly Clarke, 41, who is accused of killing Joel and Magdalena Labossiere in Winnipeg in 2008. (Tom Andrich)

Steven Solomon told jurors Tuesday afternoon that he first met Kelly Clarke at the Stony Mountain penitentiary around 2007. The two began hanging out after they were released, he said.

Clarke, 41, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the deaths of Joel Labossiere, 34, and his wife, Magdalena, 33, who were found shot "execution-style" in their St. Vital home on April 20, 2008.

Clarke's trial began November 16 in Winnipeg.

On Tuesday, Solomon testified that when he and Clarke were out of prison, he would drive Clarke around for errands.

Solomon said that in March 2008, he and Clarke went to the St. Leon, Man., where Denis Jerome Labossiere, an uncle of Joel Labossiere, lived.

Court earlier heard that Jerome Labossiere has been charged with three counts of first-degree murder after his parents, Fernand and Rita Labossiere, and his brother Remi were found dead in their St. Leon farm after a fire in 2005.

Clarke said they were going to a barbecue and "to meet Frenchie" — a reference to Jerome Labossiere, according to Solomon.

Was asked to remove phone battery

Solomon testified that Clarke asked him to remove the battery from his cellphone on their way out of Winnipeg. Solomon said he never asked why.

Upon arriving at Jerome Labossiere's farm, they went out to a garage, drank beer, snorted cocaine and talked for a couple of hours, court was told.

According to Solomon, Jerome Labossiere told the men he believes a neighbour, with the participation of Joel Labossiere and another man, were involved in his parents' deaths and a fire that destroyed their home.

Labossiere also said he had a suitcase with $70,000 in cash in their home when it was burned to the ground, according to Solomon's testimony.

Later that night, on their way back to Winnipeg, Clarke told Solomon of a plot directed by Jerome Labossiere to kidnap and torture the neighbour in order to extract a videotaped confession from the man, Solomon testified.

Solomon said he was tired from being up all weekend and he didn't really want anything to do with the plan, so he tried to avoid the subject on the rest of the drive home.

Solomon said he did not mention the plan to anyone else or contact police about it.
Solomon testified that some time later, he was driving Clarke around when they stopped at a Winnipeg gas station for a pre-arranged meeting with a man who jumped in the back, spoke for a bit, then left a double-barrelled sawed-off shotgun and some shells on the seat.

Court was told that Clarke took the weapon with him, but after an argument he eventually convinced Solomon to leave the shotgun under the spare tire in the back of his car.

Solomon's testimony on Tuesday ended after he spoke about a meeting with Jerome Labossiere and Clarke on April 18, 2008, at a halfway house.

The jury is expected to hear more testimony from Solomon, as well as cross-examination, on Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Republican turkeys!

Keeping taxpayers on "The Harper Government's" message with our money!

PM Harper takes communications strategy to new level
There are an estimated 1,500 communications staffers working in ministers’ offices and departments, including 87 in the PMO and PCO.

Monday, November 21, 2011
Since the days of Prime Ministers Lester Pearson and John Diefenbaker, the federal communications bureaucracy has gradually swelled to “huge” proportions, and while this growth didn’t start with the majority governing Conservative Party, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has certainly “changed the rules,” say some political watchers.

On CBC’s The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti on November 1, CTV’s Craig Oliver, speaking from over 50 years of journalistic experience covering the rein of 10 prime ministers, said in the last 30 years, the size of “media control” operations has greatly expanded.

In an interview with The Hill Times, Mr. Oliver said Mr. Diefenbaker—who was Prime Minister when Mr. Oliver kicked-off his reporting career—and Mr. Pearson typically went on the road with one communications person, “usually somebody who’s a former reporter who’s kind of bemused to find himself on the other side of the line.”

Mr. Oliver said on The Current, “There’s a whole infrastructure at every level of every department, of people whose job it is to manipulate and massage media. Highly paid people…hundreds of people. Their only job every day is try to manipulate a message.”

Mr. Oliver said the job of these hundreds of staffers is “massaging a message” to get media to see a story the same way the government does: “They want to influence what we’re saying, the approach we take to a story…They want to have the story cast in a way they want.”

The Hill Times went through the government electronic directory service to get a rough idea of how many communications staffers—people paid to help craft and disseminate any given government message—currently work in the public service, ministerial offices, the PMO and the PCO. In all, there are currently around 1,500 communications staffers working in government offices and departments across Canada, including 87 in the PMO and PCO.

It’s important to stress that that figure is a very rough estimate. The specific roles and structure of government communications aren’t eagerly explained; though correspondence staffers were excluded from the list, corporate, internal, and web communications staff all made the cut.

When asked about the size of Canada’s communications bureaucracy, Associate Director of Communications and PMO spokesperson Andrew MacDougall said he “couldn’t speak” to the numbers, certainly not historically.

“Each department would have to speak to its own communications staff and size and complement. That’s not something for me to comment on,” said Mr. MacDougall.

Scott Reid, a former Senior Advisor And Director of Communications to Prime Minister Paul Martin who is now a Co-Host of CTV’s National Affairs and a Principal at Feshuck.

Reid, said between 1993 to 2003, under a Liberal majority government, he saw a gradual increase in the size of communications staff in government departments and agencies.

“At the political level, there really were no formal positions known as Director of Communications in the early ’90s. By 2003, every Minister had both a Communications Director and a Press Secretary…you saw changes of that kind happen, all of which are clear indications that the emphasis on communications was increasing at both the political and bureaucratic level,” said Mr. Reid.

Mr. Reid said in 2004, with the reintroduction of a minority government to Canada, “new tactics and strategies” in communications began emerging.

“You could see it happening under us as well and it was deliberate, and the change that happens is this: you must be more disciplined in your communications when you’re in a minority situation because you’re in a much more perilous situation, from a political standpoint,” said Mr. Reid.

“If you’re in a minority circumstance and you’re faced with the constant threat of being defeated, you have to be much more focused, much more rigorous, much more centralized. It’s a word people don’t like, but it’s a reality,” said Mr. Reid.

Since the Conservative Party came into minority power in 2006, the topic of government control over communications has been a hot one, particularly among members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery where the consequences of these changes are most apparent.

Mr. Reid said the changes and gradual emphasis on communications he witnessed during Liberal governance, “became exponentially intensified under the Conservatives.”

Mr. Oliver echoed his sentiments: “He (Stephen Harper) has changed the ball game, he really has.”

Apparently used as far back as Mr. Harper’s 2003 OLO, not long after coming to power Mr. Harper implemented the use of government-wide media event proposals, MEPs, which clamped down control on interactions between caucus members and the public.

The MEP form includes sections like “Desired Sound Bite” and “Strategic Objective,” and requires ultimate approval from the PMO or PCO before the event can take place.

Around two months after being elected, Mr. Harper put an end to the Cabinet meetings’ “ins,” and “outs,” and, as has become par for the course since, does not send out notices when the full Cabinet meets.

Soon after Mr. Harper won power, the Prime Minister’s staff started deciding which reporters could ask questions, skipping those they suspected weren’t in the government’s favour. Media access to the Prime Minister and his caucus, in general, has become minimal, with MPs and ministers kept on a short, silent leash.

“I think it’s tougher for reporters these days to get to something…I’m not so sure you’re getting the information you want, but you’re getting the information that they want to give you and nothing more,” said Liberal New Brunswick Senator Jim Munson, who worked as a reporter for around 34 years—24 of which he spent at CTV—before becoming Director of Communications in “the last year or so” of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s mandate.

Interestingly, Mr. Harper’s new ball game, which has changed both political and departmental communications, seems to contradict the government’s stance stated in multiple Throne Speeches and the government’s own communications policy, introduced in 2006.

"[The communications policy] It reads a little like a fairy tale…it basically says that institutions in the Government of Canada must be visible, accessible and accountable to the public they serve…and I think more and more we don’t see that. It’s almost impossible to interview a public servant these days, and the media relations people are gate-keepers who deny access to subject matter experts more often than not,” said Canadian Press reporter Jim Bronskill in an interview with The Hill Times.

While these new rules in the back-and-forth game between media and communications, it seems agreed, came in with Prime Minister Harper’s Conservatives, some say opposition parties are starting to show signs of jumping on board.

“I would argue that other parties are following that [Mr. Harper’s] recipe. Because one main message being repeated by everybody, it gives the impression that that Party is very disciplined and is ready for power. I think the NDP is going in that direction as well, now that they’re getting closer to power,” said Joël-Denis Bellavance, a La Presse reporter who has been working on the Hill for the last 17 years.

Mr. Bellavance said during the last election campaign the NDP followed “the Conservative philosophy” when it came to protecting first time NDP candidate Ruth Ellen Brosseau from controversy, following her campaign-time trip to Vegas. Mr. Bellavance said the NDP was “protecting her and limiting access, not even telling us (the national media) when there would be media availabilities at some point.”

And, having finally achieved their much sought-after majority in the May election, Mr. Bellavance said he’s already noticed some signs of the government easing up their tight hold over communications. On a November trip to Cannes, France, Mr. Harper reportedly agreed to take eight questions from reporters, double the amount he usually allows.

But not everyone is so optimistic about a change in tides.

Mr. Reid said while the minority government atmosphere was a “catalyst” for these communications changes, the Party’s “cultural values” are an important aspect that hasn’t changed—Mr. Harper and his Conservatives see the media as out to get them.

Moreover, Mr. Reid said, he doesn’t see any pressure coming from Hill reporters to get limitations on media access reversed.

"In my view, the [Parliamentary Press] Gallery behaves like sort of hand shy dogs, you know, the Prime Minister has a rolled up newspaper, he waves it in their direction and they just kind of cower. I find it startling, to be honest,” said Mr. Reid.

Divorce court 101 - justice may be blind but judges aren't!

My Top Ten List Of What Not To Do In Divorce Court
Edra J. Pollin

Family Law Attorney
Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting ready for trial in a divorce or child custody case can be a stressful time as litigants and litigators attempt to condense the details and documents of a relationship into the hours or days of a trial. If you're represented by counsel, it is your attorney's job to prepare you for trial and to deliver a concise and convincing presentation of your case to the court. That said, since judicial determinations are often based upon the behavior a party exhibited in the courtroom rather than the exhibits they offered into evidence, please consider the following helpful hints for your day in divorce or custody court:

1. Do not roll your eyes, mutter under your breath or otherwise gesticulate when your spouse is testifying. Although justice may be blind, most judges are not. To the contrary, they are usually astute observers of body language who rarely appreciate one party's use of facial expressions to mock the other spouse's testimony. If your spouse is misrepresenting facts to the court, pass a few brief written comments to your attorney and patiently await their brilliant cross examination.

2. Do not keep referring to your child as "my" son or "my" daughter. More often than not, a parent who consistently uses the singular possessive pronoun with regard to the children is a parent who is singularly possessive about who should raise them.

3. Make sure that you've disclosed relevant and potentially embarrassing personal facts to your attorney early on in the case. Many years ago when I was a public defender, I represented "Jordan" who was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. At the first office appointment, Jordan provided me with a detailed description of his performance on the roadside sobriety test, but he neglected to mention that when he exited the vehicle he was wearing a "teddy" negligee and a pair of high heels. Although Jordan's was a criminal case which was resolved without a trial, his story bears repeating for divorcing spouses whose personal habits are relevant to their case.

4. Don't bring your entire extended family and ten of your closest friends to your divorce hearing. During a marriage, most spouses would think twice about sharing their income tax returns or the intimate details of their relationship with third parties. When a marriage is ending, some divorcing spouses abandon this rule of privacy and assume that inquiring minds want to know everything about the divorce. If you need a support system to get you through the trial, pick no more than two people to sit quietly in the bleachers of the courtroom.

5. Don't wear your torn blue jeans, your muscle shirt or your mini skirt to divorce court. Strange but true, months of trial preparation can be undone in an instant by a client who is dressed to tease rather than to testify. A provocative outfit may be great for the weekend after your divorce but it's a fashion disaster for your custody case. When you select your courtroom attire, pretend you're heading for a job interview. In some respects, you are.

6. Do not be rendered speechless if you're asked to describe the positive aspects of your spouse's parenting. A child custody case can be won or lost with the single question, "Can you describe some of the positive aspects of your spouse's parenting skills?" On occasion, this question is followed by a pregnant pause as the witness scrambles to identify one favorable aspect of the other party's parenting. If you can't say anything positive about your spouse to the court, you're probably not saying anything positive about your spouse to the kids.

7. Don't display open hostility toward your spouse's attorney. Your spouse's attorney is probably not on your Christmas list. If you're openly hostile toward opposing counsel during your cross-examination, you're probably scoring more points for the other team than for yours. Keeping your cool on the witness stand is a great way of saying that you have nothing to hide.

8. Don't read or receive text messages during the hearing. If you want the Court to pay full attention to the testimony, make sure that you do the same.

9. In a child custody dispute, don't keep talking about "your" needs and "your" desires. Custody cases are determined based upon "the best interests of the child". At trial, it is a safe assumption that the court doesn't particularly care about you or your spouse, but the court cares deeply about the child(ren) you have created together.

10. Don't tell long winded stories with irrelevant details of your spousal disputes. In divorce court, most judges have full dockets, sore backs and a desire to make it to lunchtime without an emergency hearing. If you're asking the court for a protection order, describe the alleged spousal abuse and avoid the temptation to explain the minute details of the domestic dispute which precipitated the abuse.

Hopefully, my top ten tips will improve your odds at trial although there are no guarantees of success in the world of litigation. Ignore them if you wish but you just might end up seeking out another top ten list entitled, "Top Ten Local Lawyers To File An Appeal."

Edra J. Pollin has been practicing law in Denver, Colorado since 1980. She was a Colorado Deputy State Public Defender in the Denver office from 1980 until 1983. Since 1983, she has been in private practice. Edra’s practice is devoted exclusively to family law cases involving divorce, child custody and post Decree litigation. Edra has an AV rating with Martindale Hubbell. This rating means that an attorney’s peer group has ranked them as being at the highest level of professional excellence. You can read more about Edra’s law practice and her approach to family law cases by visiting her website at

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mr. Gingrich has it back asswards again - he's the one who needs to, "Get a haircut and get a real job!"

The vanity paint job!

Good Day Readers:

In the words of Yogi Berra, "It's deja vu all over again." Reminiscent of Brian Mulroney's Prime Ministership during the early 1990s when he spent $2.5 million to outfit his flying Taj Mahal. Even took to carrying a dais embedded with the Canadian Coat of Arms on his travels. Seemed to think he was Ronald Reagan.

Wonder how much the paint job will cost?

Clare L. Pieuk

Harper's Jet: Opposition Slams PM Over Paint Job

By Althia Raj
Friday, November 18, 2011

Opposition MPs suggested Prime Minster Stephen Harper's vanity was getting in the way of his judgement Friday, after The Huffington Post reported his office had ordered a fancy new paint job for his Airbus."Lots of smug talk about fiscal balance, but we have just learned that the Prime Minister has overruled his own Minister of National Defence and is forcing National Defence to repaint a VIP government aircraft because he does not like its colour," Liberal MP Joyce Murray said during Question Period. "The current fleet of aircraft are painted military grey because they are used in critical military operations. The Prime Minister's vanity paint job will make the plane unsafe for those very military operations. Why is the Prime Minister putting his own vanity above the needs of the military?"

Chris Alexander, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of National Defence, said the paint job would only be considered if it was "cost neutral." He initially told the House there was "no current plan to change the paint scheme for any Airbus aircraft," but within a few minutes recounted his statement clarifying that he meant to say "that there has been no decision in that regard.

"A paper trail and a number sources have confirmed the paint job is going ahead, as The Huffington Post reported Thursday, in 2013.

NDP MP Jack Harris said he was concerned that if the Prime Minister's grey-coloured aircraft was repainted with flashier colours, the plane would draw attention to itself during military missions.

"We’re talking about a military aircraft that’s used for military purposes. There were concerns expressed recently about having to use unarmed aircraft to go to Kabul to bring our troops back. That was considered to be difficult and dangerous. If that’s difficult and dangerous then surely we don’t want to have airplanes that are going to be even more visible," he said.

"Little things sometimes send very strong signals," added Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau. "This is a government with a bloated cabinet. This is a government with a bloated PMO. This is a government that for vanity reasons only is going to paint their airplane red and white as opposed to accepting the fact that the military colours them grey, it removes that airplane effectively from going into certain military zones because it doesn’t have that camouflage benefit and it’s purely for vanity reasons — absolutely nothing else. It sends a bad message to Canadians," he said. "And what’s the matter with grey?," he added.

The Prime Minister's previous aircraft, a CF Boeing 707, was painted in a white and red colour scheme, similar to what is currently being contemplated. The current aircraft, an Airbus A-310 which is designated as a CC-150 Polaris, was painted grey to make it less visible.
This sketch by Jim Belliveau, obtained under Access to Information legislation, shows a colourful plane with native art on the tail. One side of the plane would have represented western Canada and the other side eastern Canada, but officials rejected the concept.

Like Huffington Post Canada's Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj's reporter page on
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