Tuesday, January 31, 2012

IPOs 101 .....

Does and eye patch make you tough eh?

The Stobbe case!

Good Evening Readers:

Spent the day at The Law Courts covering the Mark Stobbe trial along with a handful of other media reporters.  Rather than regurgitating the online accounts already posted by The Winnipeg Sun, Winnipeg Free Press and CBC Manitoba we thought we'd provide some background not covered:

(1) British Columbia Lead Crown Prosecutor Wendy Dawson was very patient and considerate answering media questions, including ours, during a breaks in the proceedings. For us she explained in cases such as this, where a government employee is on trial, standard operating procedure is to bring in a Crown from another province to avoid any possibility of a conflict of interest or even the appearance of such

You may recall Provincial Judge Brian M. Corrin during February of last year was charged with 1-count of assaulting a family member (his Mother), as well as, 1-count of uttering a threat against said person. An Ontario Crown (Toronto) was brought in to prosecute that case

(2) RCMP Inspector Bruce Prange and expert witness in Crime Scene Investigations testified much of yesterday and today. He came equipped with several poster boards of the Stobbe home, surrounding area and family car where the body of Ms. Rowbotham was discovered in a Selkirk, Manitoba parking lot. Also included in his repertoire of evidence was a large binder containing 475 colour photographs documenting over 40 pieces of evidence discovered at the home and in the vehicle

One of the media reporters passed a note to Ms Dawson who, in turn, had the Court Clerk give it to presiding Queen's Bench Justice Chris Martin. It asked if a copy of the binder, of which jurors already had copies, could be provided to the media. His Honour agreed

(3) A special thank you to Mr. Tim Killeen (Killeen Rolston Wiebe) who along with Co-Counsel is defending Mr. Stobbe. At one point he asked the presiding Judge and witness if they could adjust their microphones as a couple members of the public had approached him indicating they were having trouble hearing. Although we were not one of them, this is a constant, ongoing struggle at The Law Courts involving witnesses, counsel and judges. Mr. Killeen has been most gracious in the past answering our questions

Tomorrow it's back to The Law Courts to listen to Justice Brenda Keyser's charge to the jury in the Michel Hince-Jerome Labossiere triple first degree murder trial in the deaths of parents Fernand, Rita and son Remi Labossiere. We will be particularly interested in Her instructions and the range of options she provides after which the jury will be sequestered to begin deliberating and we'll switch off to the Stobbe proceedings.

Clare L. Pieuk

The Stones you silly woman!

Abolish the backbenchers?

CBC posted this message after violating Canadian election law by airing results on the national network before the polls closed.

Tories petition to Scrap CBC
Kris Sims | OMI Agency/Monday, January 30, 2012

OTTAWA -- Conservative backbenchers are rekindling their fight to abolish the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Four Tories presented petitions in the House of Commons Monday calling for the state broadcaster to be defunded or sold to private industry.

"Government of Canada funds the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to the sum of $1.1 billion per annum, that the vast amount of Government of Canada funding gives the CBC an unfair advantage over its private sector competitor," Brian Jean, a Conservative MP from Alberta, said as he read aloud from the petition signed by his constituents. "(We) call upon Parliament to end public funding of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation."

Last year, the Liberals launched a petition to maintain or increase funding for the CBC, exempting it from the 5%-10% reduction being sought in all other government departments.

Petitions must contain the signatures of at least 25 individuals, complete with Canadian home addresses. Members of Parliament can present petitions whether or not they agree with the goals.
The documents are largely for public pulse-taking, as governments are not compelled to act on the demands.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Feminazi lawyer?

Good Day Readers:

First discovered this story on New York legal blog Above the Law (http://abovethelaw.com). In it the attorney representing the two ladies was described as a "feminazi lawyer. You'll notice in the video Gloria Allred is referred to as, "bodyguard of the broken hearted celebrity."

Perhaps Shakespeare's famous quote should be updated to, "Hell hath no fury like the lawyer of a woman scorned."

Clare L. Pieuk 

The view from America .....

Our day at the courthouse!

Good Day Readers:

Spent Monday at The Law Courts - the morning covering the Labossiere trial the afternoon following the Mark Stobbe case. The former was devoted to the Crown and Defence attorneys making their final arguments. Wednesday Justice Brenda Keyser is expected to charge the jury after which deliberations will begin.
Evan Roitenberg (representing Michel Hince) as he had done earlier during Crown star witness Jeremie Toupin's testimony continued to pound away at Mr. Toupin's credibility. Jeremie Toupin signed a plea deal agreeing to 3-counts of second degree murder rather than murder one in exchange for his testimony.

It was alleged after the killings of parents Rita, Fernand and their son Remi Labossiere Messrs Hince and Jeremie Toupin stopped at a bridge off Highway 75 to dispose of two guns plus ammunition and spent shell casings. If you can believe this apparently somewhere in all this they lost the keys to the car they were driving so had to flag down a passing motorist to use their cellular phone to call brother Andre Toupin who, according to testimony by Jeremie Toupin, arrived sometime latter in a black truck to drive them back to Winnkipeg.

However, Mr. Roitenberg suggested this was impossible because said truck was at an auto body shop for repair at the time. Here's were it gets interesting. Had Evan Roitenberg called someone from the business to provide detailed evidence regarding who had brought in the vehicle for servicing, when, what was the nature of the repairs, the cost and when and who picked up the vehicle he would have been required to expose said witness to cross-examination. Further, if the Defence introduces any witnesses (which it did not) it is required to present final arguments to the jury before the Crown which some attorneys consider a disadvantage.

Was Mr. Roitenberg's presentation on behalf of his client be enough to sway the jury? You be the judge and jury.

Clare L. Pieuk

How the super rich influence the American political process!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hey, get back here where you belong eh?

Snowy owls soar south from Arctic in rare mass migration

By Laura Zuckerman
Sunday, January 29, 2012

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) - Bird enthusiasts are reporting rising numbers of snowy owls from the Arctic winging into the lower 48 states this winter in a mass southern migration that a leading owl researcher called "unbelievable."

Thousands of the snow-white birds, which stand 2 feet tall with 5-foot wingspans, have been spotted from coast to coast, feeding in farmlands in Idaho, roosting on rooftops in Montana, gliding over golf courses in Missouri and soaring over shorelines in Massachusetts.

A certain number of the iconic owls fly south from their Arctic breeding grounds each winter but rarely do so many venture so far away even amid large-scale, periodic southern migrations known as irruptions.
"What we're seeing now -- it's unbelievable," said Denver Holt, head of the Owl Research Institute in Montana.

"This is the most significant wildlife event in decades," added Holt, who has studied snowy owls in their Arctic tundra ecosystem for two decades.

Holt and other owl experts say the phenomenon is likely linked to lemmings, a rodent that accounts for 90 percent of the diet of snowy owls during breeding months that stretch from May into September. The largely nocturnal birds also prey on a host of other animals, from voles to geese.

An especially plentiful supply of lemmings last season likely led to a population boom among owls that resulted in each breeding pair hatching as many as seven offspring. That compares to a typical clutch size of no more than two, Holt said.

Greater competition this year for food in the Far North by the booming bird population may have then driven mostly younger, male owls much farther south than normal.

Research on the animals is scarce because of the remoteness and extreme conditions of the terrain the owls occupy, including northern Russia and Scandinavia, he said.

The surge in snowy owl sightings has brought birders flocking from Texas, Arizona and Utah to the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, pouring tourist dollars into local economies and crowding parks and wildlife areas. The irruption has triggered widespread public fascination that appears to span ages and interests.

"For the last couple months, every other visitor asks if we've seen a snowy owl today," said Frances Tanaka, a volunteer for the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge northeast of Olympia, Washington.

But accounts of emaciated owls at some sites -- including a food-starved bird that dropped dead in a farmer's field in Wisconsin -- suggest the migration has a darker side. And Holt said an owl that landed at an airport in Hawaii in November was shot and killed to avoid collisions with planes.

He said snowy owl populations are believed to be in an overall decline, possibly because a changing climate has lessened the abundance of vegetation like grasses that lemmings rely on.

This winter's snowy owl outbreak, with multiple sightings as far south as Oklahoma, remains largely a mystery of nature.

"There's a lot of speculation. As far as hard evidence, we really don't know," Holt said.

(Editing by Steve Gorman and David Bailey)

Will the F-Bomb land on you?


DARPA - Funded Hacker's Tiny $50 Spy Computer Hides In Offices, Drops From Drones
By Andy Greenberg
Friday, January 27, 2012

Even more embarrassing than a student discovering your GPS tracking device on his car, as the FBI found out last year, is having to ask him to give the expensive piece of equipment back.

So security researcher Brendan O’Connor is trying a different approach to spy hardware: building a sensor-equipped surveillance-capable computer that’s so cheap it can be sacrificed after one use, with off-the-shelf parts that anyone can buy and assemble for less than fifty dollars.

At the Shmoocon security conference Friday in Washington D.C., O’Connor plans to present the F-BOMB, or Falling or Ballistically-launched Object that Makes Backdoors. Built from just the hardware in a commercially-available PogoPlug mini-computer, a few tiny antennae, eight gigabytes of flash memory and some 3D-printed plastic casing, the F-BOMB serves as 3.5 by 4 by 1 inch spy computer. And O’Connor has designed the cheap gadgets to be dropped from a drone, plugged inconspicuously into a wall socket, thrown over a barrier, or otherwise put into irretrievable positions to quietly collect data and send it back to the owner over any available Wifi network. With PogoPlugs currently on sale at Amazon for $25, O’Connor built his prototypes with gear that added up to just $46 each.

“If some target is surrounded by bad men with guns, you don’t want to have to retrieve this, but you also don’t want to have to pay four or five hundred dollars for every use,” says O’Connor. “The idea is that it’s as close to free as possible. So you can throw a bunch of these sensors at a target and get away with losing a couple nodes in the process.”

Homemade as it may look, the F-BOMB is more than a hacker hobby. O’Connor says his one-man security consultancy Malice Afterthought received a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency contract earlier this month to develop the devices as part of the Cyber Fast Track program, which awards small sums to inventors.
A prototype of O'Connor's $50 F-Bomb with its case open
An F-Bomb Hidden inside a carbon monoxide casing

Despite its name, O’Connor says the F-BOMB is designed to be a platform for all sorts of applications on its Linux operating system. Outfit it with temperature or humidity sensors, for instance, and it can be used for meteorological research or other innocent data-collecting.  But install some Wifi-cracking software or add a $15 GPS module, and it can snoop on data networks or track a target’s location, O’Connor adds. As is often the case with these kinds of hacker projects, he says the devices are only intended for penetration testing–finding security flaws in clients’ networks in order to fix them–and wouldn’t comment on what DARPA might do with the technology.

That hasn’t stopped the 26-year old researcher from coming up with a few clever ways to deliver or hide the tiny spy computers. One version attaches to the Parrot Drone, an iPhone-controllable quadcopter, sucking power off the drone’s rechargeable battery and allowing the user to hover over a target, land it on a roof, or drop the F-BOMB from a hook attachment on the drone.

Another version fits inside a carbon monoxide detector, and can be plugged into a wall socket to hide in plain sight inside a target’s building. (As shown above) In use-cases where it’s not plugged in, the most basic version of the F-BOMB comes with a module of AA batteries that allow for a few hours of use, though O’Connor says he’s working on versions with more longevity.

“It can fit whatever use case you want,” he says. “Put it in a box of stale Triscuits in the office kitchen, and no one will touch it. Or hide it in a carbon monoxide detector and you can leave it there for months.”

O’Connor, who formerly worked for the DARPA-funded contractor SET and as a graduate student in John Hopkins’ sensor research lab, says he was inspired by a pair of talks at last summer’s hacker conference Defcon. One focused on systems for firing camera projectiles, while the other showed off the WASP, or Wireless Aerial Surveillance Platform, an adapted Air Force flying drone equipped with gear for cracking Wifi networks and snooping on cell phones.

While O’Connor says he admired both those projects, his own system is far cheaper. And just as important, he says, using off-the-shelf components means the computers can be left behind without its innards revealing who built it, as more custom-designed or expensive parts might.

“If you lose it, it’s not a big deal,” says O’Connor. “And if they take it apart, they don’t learn anything about you.”

Friday, January 27, 2012

Yet another classic textbook flogging a dead horse lawsuit?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "SLAPPs!":

Duluth News Tribune, January 24, 2012:

A jury should decide if six statements a Duluth man posted on rate-your-doctor websites and distributed elsewhere about a Duluth neurologist’s bedside manner were defamatory.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals, in a decision released Monday, sent back to St. Louis County District Court for trial the case of Dr. David McKee v. Dennis Laurion. District Court Judge Eric Hylden had ruled in April that McKee was not defamed by the criticism and threw out the doctor’s lawsuit, leading to the appeal.

McKee, a neurologist with Northland Neurology and Myology, filed the defamation lawsuit against the son of one of his patients in June 2010. McKee alleges that Laurion defamed him and interfered with his business by posting false statements on the internet and to various third parties, including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, two physicians in Duluth, the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee and St. Luke’s hospital, among others.

Laurion claims that any statements he made about the doctor were true and that he is immune from any liability to the plaintiff. McKee is asking for more than $50,000 in damages.

McKee was pleased by the Court of Appeals ruling. “Obviously, that’s good news and I’m glad that it turned out that way, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to my attorney about it,’’ he said. McKee is being represented by Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick.

Laurion’s defense attorney, John Kelly of Duluth, had gained summary judgment from Hylden by laying out 11 statements his client allegedly related regarding McKee and asking the court to determine if any of those statements might be considered defamatory by jurors. Hylden ruled that none of the 11 were defamatory. In his order throwing out the case, Hylden wrote that the alleged defamatory statements constituted opinions, true statements and statements too vague to carry defamatory meaning. He said there wasn’t enough objective information provided to justify asking a jury to decide the matter.“We were hoping to have Judge Hylden’s decision upheld by the Court of Appeals,’’ Kelly said. “They decided there are triable issues. That’s why we have trial courts. We’ll go back and try those triable issues.”

The Court of Appeals ruled that Hylden properly dismissed McKee’s interference-with-business claim, stating that Minnesota does not recognize a cause of action for interference with business or economic expectancy.

To establish a defamation claim, a party must prove that the defendant communicated to a third party a factual assertion that is false and tends to harm a plaintiff’s reputation in the community.

Laurion was critical of the treatment his father, Kenneth, received from McKee after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke and spending four days at St. Luke’s hospital from April 17-21 of 2010.

The appellate court determined McKee’s defamation suit should proceed regarding six claims Laurion publicly made about McKee:

• That McKee told the patient he had to “spend time finding out if you were transferred or died.’’

• That McKee said, “44 percent of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option.’’

• That McKee said, “You don’t need therapy.’’

• That McKee said, “It doesn’t matter’’ that the patients gown did not cover his backside.

• That McKee left the patient’s room without talking to the patient’s family.

• That a nurse told Laurion that McKee was “a real tool.”

In an e-mail to the News Tribune, Laurion said he was dismayed by the decision. “While being sued for defamation, I have been called a passive aggressive, an oddball, a liar, a coward, a bully, a malicious person, and a zealot family member,” Laurion wrote. “I’ve been said to have run a cottage industry vendetta, writing 19 letters, and posting 108 adverse Internet postings in person or through proxies. In reality, I posted ratings at three consumer rating sites, deleted them, and never rewrote them again . . .
Dear Anonymous:

Thank you for keeping us updated in this most unusual case. You be the judge and jury readers. Do you find the 6-statements capable of causing significant loss of reputation and financial hardship? We don't!

Clare L. Pieuk

Dennis Laurion
David McKee

"This is what I've been saying all along but nobody believed me." ..... Vic Toews. That's because you're a politician silly man!

Prison population growth shower than predicted
Plan to hire thousands of guards aborted

By Jeff Davis
Friday, January 27, 2012

Canada's prison population is not growing as fast as expected following tough-on-crime legislation, prompting Corrections Canada to abort plans to hire 4,000 new prison guards.

According to the most recent data, Canada's federal prison population stood at 14,893 at the end of 2011, significantly fewer than the 17,189 prisoners Corrections Canada predicted would be locked up by then.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said he never believed predictions that the prison population would grow significantly when the government passed legislation that increased mandatory minimum sentences and repealed the twoforone time-served provisions.

Toews said he now feels vindicated. "This is what I've been saying all along but nobody believed me," Toews told Postmedia News Thursday. "The thrust of our legislation is focusing on serious, repeat or violent offenders and doesn't create new prisoners or new criminals."

Instead, Toews said, the Tory tough-on-crime legislative package has shut the "revolving doors" of Canada's prison system, and the prison population is increasing not because there are more convictions, but because sentences are longer.

"We're looking at about 25 per cent of the actual forecast," he said. "Instead of attracting all sorts of new criminals into the system, we're just retaining the old ones."

Corrections Canada Commissioner Don Head circulated a memo to his staff on January 13, saying that because the prison population is not ballooning as expected, the plan to hire thousands of new guards has been abandoned.

"It was based on a projected inmate population of approximately 18,000 by March 2013," Head wrote. "To date, this population stands at just under 15,000, substantially less than our projections for this point in time.
"Let me state very clearly: our hiring of staff is assessed based on the actual number of inmates, not projections," he wrote. "As a result, we will not be hiring 4,000 new employees."

The Correctional Investigator of Canada, Howard Sapers, said that although the prison population has not expanded as predicted, it has grown significantly. In January 2010 there were 13,300 inmates, he said, whereas now there are 14,800.

"If you look back over the last 24 months, the federal inmate population has grown by about 1,500," he said. "That is the equivalent of about three large, medium-security institutions."

Sapers said it is difficult to determine why the inmate population has not grown as much as expected, but suggested the provincial inmate populations may be growing, or there could simply be fewer crimes occurring. In any case, he said, the growth is less than most experts had feared.

Although Corrections Canada has scrapped plans to hire 4,000 new guards, Sapers said, it has already hired hundreds of new staff to deal with the population increase thus far.

On Monday, Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur said she expects the Tory anti crime Bill C-10 - currently before Parliament - will cost her province around $1 billion extra.

Toews said because the prison population is not growing as fast as expected, efforts to create 2,500 new prison cells will give everyone in the prison system more room to breathe. He said the first new or renovated wards will be opened in summer 2012
Some of Canada prisons are very old, such as the Kingston Penitentiary, which was built in 1834.


A cordial discussion in the Oval Office or good for book sales?

Arizona Governor and Obama Clash at Airport

President Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer were seen engaged in an intense conversation at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Arizona on Wednesday. Later Brewer explained the president was "a little disturbed" by parts of her new book. (Video: Fox News/Photo: AP)

Merde jokes .....

Good Day Readers:

Our favourite? True story. Several years ago when Pierre Trudeau was Prime Minister and Canada Post seemed to be on strike about every 3-years, Mr. Trudeau was leaving Parliament Hill for lunch with an English language reporter in tow. One of the picketers shouted something at the PM in French who then replied with, "Manger de la merde!" Upon noticing the demonstrators seemed somewhat agitated with his response the reporter asked what he had said?

"Oh, I just told the boys to enjoy their lunch."

Clare L. Pieuk

The bureaucracy without a cause!

Bureaucracy set up to support Public Appointments Commission, which was then scrapped

By Greg Weston, National Affairs Specialist
Friday, January 27, 2012

In the six years since the Harper government came to power, Canadian taxpayers have spent millions of dollars on supporting a federal appointments commission that doesn't exist.

The money has disappeared into a bureaucracy set up to support the commission — a bureaucracy that seems to have just about everything except a commission to support.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally announced the creation of the Public Appointments Commission in the spring of 2006, one of the first acts of his newly elected Conservative government and a centrepiece of its much-touted accountability policy.

At the same time, the government created a new federal department called the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat to support the commission with a budget of more than $1 million a year.

By cabinet decree, the secretariat reports directly to the prime minister.

In theory, the commission was to oversee the hiring process for hundreds of federal boards and agencies, ensuring appointments are made on merit and not just doled out to partisan pals of the party in power.
It all sounded like a good idea at the time.

But on the same day Harper introduced the new commission, he also announced its first commissioners would be respected Alberta businessman Gwyn Morgan, a prominent Conservative and friend of the PM.
A month later, the federal opposition parties voted to block Morgan's appointment.

Secretariat lived on

Visibly angered and embarrassed, Harper scrapped the commission in retaliation.
But no one scrapped its bureaucracy, the appointments secretariat. Far from it.
Peter Harrison, former head of the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat. 
Peter Harrison former head of the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat. (CBC)

The morning after Harper killed the commission, the secretariat's top bureaucrat, Peter Harrison, flew to London for a week of research.

In an interview with CBC News this week, Harrison said that in the absence of a commission to support, the secretariat spent its time "developing approaches (to appointments) that an eventual commission could look at and approve."

A highly respected academic and former senior public servant, Harrison says that without a commission in place, his secretariat ran out of useful work to do in less than a year.

By then, government documents show the secretariat had spent $843,000.

The Harper government paid out another $82,000 in severance to laid-off employees, and shut down the whole thing.

But not for long.

Seven months later, there was still no sign of a public appointments commission.

Nicer offices

But suddenly the secretariat supporting the non-existent commission was back in business.

It hired a deputy executive director at a salary of more than $150,000, along with an administrative assistant.
They moved into apparently much nicer offices at more than double the rent Harrison's much larger group had been paying in a government building three blocks away.

The secretariat hired outside consultants and drew on the services of other federal departments.

By fall of last year, government documents show the Public Appointments Commission Secretariat had burned through just over $2.5 million in cash and donated federal services.

And still there is no sign of an appointments commission.

Exactly what the rather unique secretariat accomplished for all that cash remains something of a mystery.
One of its main preoccupations seems to have been writing reports, setting out its annual plans and priorities, most of which are remarkably similar from one year to the next.

$700,000 in pay and benefits

Notably, the bureaucracy with nothing much to do has routinely given itself high marks for exceeding expectations.

The one senior bureaucrat in the operation for the past four years apparently collected over $700,000 in pay and benefits before retiring from the public service last fall.

Officials in the prime minister's department say the secretariat currently has no staff, but otherwise there is no change in its status.

New Democratic Party Interim Leader Nycole Turmel, says the government needs to make an immediate choice: either start up the appointments commission or shut down its secretariat.

For its part, the prime minister shows no signs of doing either.

Documents show the government is budgeting $1.1 million for the secretariat in the coming year — or about $300,000 if there is still no commission to support.

A lot of money to do what, exactly, is not clear.

Greg Weston can be reached at greg.weston@cbc.ca.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"I have a better knife ..... let me help you with that!"

Bloggers' rights coming to Manitoba Law Courts ..... soon?

Good Evening Readers:

Spent a full day at the Law Courts. As fate would have it we found ourself at the end of a long line-up chatting with 4 other journalists from the mainstream media also waiting to enter the courtroom for the Labossiere trial.

By the time we made it to the front all public gallery seats had been taken save for 5 reserved for the Press. The sheriff asked if we had a media pass, however, being a Ma and Pa Kettle operation we didn't. As subsequently explained to two other sheriffs, people like us are Media Citizen Journalists/Blog Masters who cover events and post articles on the internet which the traditional media are free to reproduce since nothing we author is copyright protected.

Felt a twinge of guilt because through no fault of theirs the sheriffs found themselves in a grey area where no policy existed. Regardless, throughout they remained most polite and respectful which we greatly appreciated. The 5th media place became available when the Winnipeg Free Press failed to send a representative so it was offered to us. Presumably had a journalist arrived from that organization we would have been asked to relinquish our seat.

The 5-places reserved had makeshift signs designating them as "Press" something we have not seen previously and hope will becomes a regular feature especially during high profile trials such as the upcoming Mark Stobbe proceeding scheduled to begin Monday, January 30 in Courtroom 120. We have been advised at some point it will be moved to a larger room but we do not know when or where.

Last week (January 18) we sent a copy of our posting, Social media in the courtroom! with a suggestion and received a quick automatic response the intended recipient would not be back in the office until Monday, January, 23. We have yet to receive a reply but are hopeful we will. A copy of this posting has also been sent to the same administrator.

To the best of our knowledge we're the only Blogger regularly covering The Law Courts. Hopefully, there will be others to follow much, much better than us. Our suggestion is one place be reserved among those seats set aside for the Press to include a Blogger.

Clare L. Pieuk


After entering the courtroom, a couple staff came by to say they were happy to see we had been given a seat. That made our day!

The poster above is from San Francisco-based The Electronic Frontier Foundation one of North America's leading edge digital law advocates that supports blogger rights.   

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Thank goodness she's not blond!

Manitoba courts have too much class to talesmen!

Dear Ms Sims:

We were particularly interested in your article because we spend a lot of time at Winnipeg's Provincial Law Courts - currently covering three high profile murder trials - plus grew up in London, Ontario.

A special thank you to a couple Law Courts staff who generously gave of their time today to explain the process here. Yes, it has happened twice before, however, with a significant difference. Sheriffs were sent out with specific instructions and a list of questions to ask those citizens targeted at random such as, "Do you have a business trip or vacation imminent? Is there a family emergency or illness that requires much of your time and attention?" etc. Only those least inconvenienced are selected.

BTW, a judge saw your article and requested clarification from staff of the process used in Manitoba.

Clare L. Pieuk

Jury corral empty, posse hits the trail
Court: Little-used section of Criminal Code dusted off as panel comes up on one short

By Jane Sims
Wednesday, January 2012
A jury seat was still empty, but there was no one left to choose from.

The solution?

Send out the sheriff to round up potential jurors off the street.

Like something out of the Wild West, the rare move happened in London after a court ran out of people -- more than 130 had been vetted -- to hear the case against three men charged with assault, threats and forcible confinement.

Relying on a little-used part of the Criminal Code, Justice Kelly Gorman ordered the Middlesex County Sheriff and London police to wrangle up the first 20 people they found in the area of the courthouse and order them to appear in court the next day to be considered for the jury.

Tuesday, those 20 lassoed the previous afternoon waited anxiously to find out if they'd be hearing a week-long trial.

But here's the kicker -- in the end, they weren't needed at all.

The term for people dragooned for jury duty is "talesmen," meaning "reserve member of a jury" from the old English word "tales," or "writ ordering bystanders to serve." Not that the London people hauled in were aware of that old tradition or term.

Instead, they waited to find out if they'd be chosen to hear the trial of Irtiza Hussain, 38, Andrew Singh, 35 and Randy Singh, 37.

No one around the courthouse could clearly remember the last time such a move to find a juror was taken.
The three men faced three charges of assault, forcible confinement and threats to another man, Abbas Mahdiyan on April 4, 2009.

Randy Singh also faced gun-related counts stemming from the same incident.

This was the third attempt to get the case off the ground. In October, it was adjourned after two other juries were chosen from a pool for other cases, leaving too few people left to choose from for the trial.

The case was rescheduled for December, but again had to be adjourned when one defence lawyer had another jury trial go longer than expected, leaving him unavailable.

The defence lawyers -- Brian Chambers, Ken McMillan and Craig McLean -- also wanted a jury selection process involving a so-called "challenge for cause," where each potential juror is asked a question to judge their fitness for duty.

McLean asked potential jurors if their ability to judge the case without bias, prejudice or partiality would be affected by the fact the accused persons were black.

Some potential jurors couldn't serve because of health issues or personal circumstances.
Each of the three defence lawyers was allowed to "challenge" 12 people -- effectively, rejecting them for the jury.

The Crown was given an equal 36 challenges -- and assistant Crown attorney John Hanbidge used them sparingly.

By the end of Monday, there was no one left to pick.

That's when Gorman called in the sheriff and police.

Tuesday morning, the process started again.

The first two potential jurors told Gorman they worked at the nearby federal building at Queens Avenue and Talbot Street.

Gorman explained the court's predicament and why they've been pulled into service so abruptly.

"I'm sure this was quite a shock," she said to the first woman to be questioned.
"It was," she said.

Both women were rejected, but the third potential juror, a bank employee, was accepted.

By late morning, the rest of the corralled jury was summoned into the courtroom. Gorman thanked them and told them of her order to have the police and sheriff "wrangle up members of the public" on short notice.
They were allowed to leave.

Finally, a jury of five women and seven men was ready. They were sent out of the courtroom to allow some legal discussions, and the trial would begin.

But not so fast.

The short recess ran into the lunch hour. After lunch, there were more discussions.

The jury was sent home.

Shortly before 3 p.m., the three men pleaded guilty to the three main charges, while Randy Singh also pleaded guilty to two charges involving an imitation handgun. They're to be sentenced January 25.

The jury, after a very long day, was to have received phone calls informing them their services weren't needed.

Criminal Code of Canada Section 642
(1) If a full jury and any alternate jurors considered advisable cannot be ­provided . . . the court may, at the request of the prosecutor, order the sheriff or other proper officer to summon without delay as many persons, whether qualified jurors or not, as the court directs for the purpose of providing a full jury and alternate jurors . . .
E-mail jane.sims@sunmedia.ca, or follow JaneatLFPress on Twitter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Meet Mr. Geek!

Duhhhhh .....

Walmart clearly expects that its shoppers can read signs, which is why they've marked a stack of clothing with not only a display reading "Clearance," but also have printed the same word on a balloon and affixed it to said arrangement of apparel. However it seems they think their shoppers aren't so good at the whole cardinal numbers thing.

Mianne sent in a picture using the Consumerist tipster app of a display of clothing at Walmart topped with a "Clearance" sign and balloon, with a shiny happy price of $3, as opposed to the original price of... $3.

Let's see if we can get this straight: 1 +1 +1 = 3, and then by the transitive property of whatchamacallit and the math rules of my freshman year algebra teacher... oh yeah, 3 = 3. It's the same, Walmart, so we call shenanigans on your use of "clearance." We understand that you are indeed, trying to clear out those items. But an actual sale would be nice.

Next time, might we suggest a simple, "It's The Same Price It Always Was So Please Just Buy It" will do. Please print balloons accordingly.

'The jury scoop' ..... sounds like the latest dance fad!

Lawyer warns about further jury roundups
By Glenn Kauth/Monday, January 23, 2012

Incidents like last week’s jury scoop in London, Ontario will likely happen again, a Toronto criminal defence lawyer is warning.

The problem, says Marcy Segal, is the prevailing attitude towards jury duty. “Unfortunately, in this day and age, most citizens are tied to their jobs in order to pay their mortgages or bills. So I have seen a number of citizens either not appearing for jury duty or asking to be excused for work reasons or serious health issues.”

Marcy Segal
For justice to work, citizens have to respect the system, says lawyer Marcy Segal.
The result, she says, is that people don’t want to be jurors. “We are losing jurors for all of these reasons. Therefore, it may become more common for a judge to ask the deputy to find potential jurors.”

The comments come as Ontario Superior Court Justice Kelly Gorman raised eyebrows last week when she ordered the sheriff to round up potential jurors off the street. According to the London Free Press, Gorman took advantage of a rarely used provision in the Criminal Code in order to fill a jury seat after coming up one person short of the panel needed to hear a case against three men charged with assault, threats, and forcible confinement.

The sheriff went out to find 20 people, including Scott Johnston, chief information officer at Harrison Pensa LLP in London. Most appeared the next day, and the court was able to assemble the full panel, the Free Press reported. But after the accused pleaded guilty, the court no longer needed the jurors’ services.

For Segal, the incident highlights the challenges of the current system as well as the public’s sometimes contradictory attitudes given people’s reluctance to serve as jurors.

“Quite frankly, the citizens demand that the justice system work,” she says. “Their participation is crucial and there needs to be more respect for the process by the citizens. I think that being a juror is one of the most important functions as a citizen. They should welcome it.”

Johnston, however, in commentary in the Free Press on the weekend, expressed concerns about the way officials handled last week’s roundup. Noting he had a train ticket to go to Toronto the next day for important work, he likened the officers’ treatment of him to bullying. “It was a darkened street corner, it was a stranger who approached me, the person pointed something at me and told me not to leave, a second person moved in closer in what I interpreted as further intimidation, I was stripped of my privacy and freedom on the spot and I was left feeling cheated, angered, and confused,” he wrote.

Johnston said that while he supports the jury system, he would prefer that the sheriff take the person’s hardship into consideration or have the right to do so. He also said the sheriff should provide an explanation for the sudden roundup, something he said didn’t happen in his case. 

The Puppets' Court replaces The People's Court!

Judge Joe Brown: "Oy vey!"

Monday, January 23, 2012

How say you Supreme Court of Canada?

Lady, if you're stress free you're dead!

Do taxpayers a favour knock each other out save us some money!

"Gentlemen, I want a clean fight this is not the House of Commons! No kicking, biting, spitting or calling your opponent a piece of s..t. Protect yourself at all times. Touch gloves and come out fighting."

In this ring! Trudeau and Brazeau hope to float like butterflies, sting like bees in celebrity boxing match

Grit MP Justin Trudeau couldn’t find a Tory who’d step into the ring with him for a celebrity boxing match to raise money for cancer research until he called Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau. But he didn’t know Senator Brazeau was a former military, kick-boxer who has his second degree black belt in karate.

By Bea Vongdouangchanh/Monday, January 23, 2012

You’d think it wouldn’t take much to line up a Conservative MP who would want the opportunity to punch Liberal MP Justin Trudeau in the face—even if it was for charity—but as it happens, it kind of is.

Mr. Trudeau, 40, has been boxing on and off for the last 15 years, but said he’s never stepped into the ring for a real match. When he heard about the annual Fight For the Cure ‘white collar boxing’ event in Ottawa which helps raise money for cancer research, he told The Hill Times that he “got immensely excited” about it and wanted to join.

“I thought wow, what a neat idea, what a great way to both raise money and attention for a great cancer charity but also what a great way to figure out how good a boxer I am and if all that training has been useful. So I said, hey, I’d be interested in doing that,” he told HOH last week. “We started talking, and the only other challenge then was to try and find an opponent.”

He said that the first person he asked was Conservative MP Rob Anders (Calgary West, Alberta).

“I figured Rob, he’s a very big, very bulky, very solid guy, also someone who has a reputation as someone who might want to take a swing at me, and someone who’s fairly pugilistic in his behaviour in the House. So I asked him,” he said. “He thought about it for a day or two and got back to me and said, ‘You know Justin, as tempted as I’d be, it’s just a time commitment, the training that I have to do would take over my life, and I’m not comfortable doing it.’ And I said, ‘Okay, fine.’ I was disappointed because I was looking forward to it, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll try some other people.’ ”

I then asked Conservative MP Jeff Watson (Essex, Ontario) who he said he didn’t think took him seriously with the request. Mr. Trudeau said Mr. Watson “laughed it off” and didn’t give him a straight answer. His next choice was Defence Minister Peter MacKay (Central Nova, Nova Scotia).

“I asked Peter and I said, ‘I was hesitant to ask you, Peter, because I think perhaps there might be rules against hitting a Cabinet Minister’s face or against them letting you into the ring.’ And he sort of bristled at that, and he said, ‘Look, no they’ll let me under the rugby pitch and that’s fairly violent, so I get to decide what I do.’ I probably said the right thing to get him to think about it, but he got back to me a few hours later and said no, and as we now know, he had a lot going on in his life at that particular moment and he just couldn’t take the time to train,” Mr. Trudeau said. “I totally respect each of their decisions and it’s not an obvious thing to do.”

But Mr. Trudeau said he then started to worry that he wouldn’t be able to find anyone.

“I was wandering around on those green buses saying, ‘Isn’t there any member of the Conservative Party who actually wants to punch me in the face?’ And that got a lot of laughs and funny looks, but no takers,” he said. “I actually sat down in my office with some of my staff who actually went through a list of everyone we could possibly fight and it was this whole production.”

He considered Conservative MP Ryan Leef, a trained mixed martial arts fighter from Yukon, as well, but said there was a weight class difference and he wanted to fight someone who also didn’t have experience in the ring. Finally, a friend texted him to recommend Quebec Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

“He said yes, right away. Actually his staffer said yes for him right away, not ‘I’ll check with my boss,’ it was, ‘Oh yes, he’ll do it.’ So, I should’ve been a little worried right off there,” Mr. Trudeau said. “But I said, okay, fair enough, and then Patrick confirmed yes he was in, and then belatedly I decided okay, let’s look up his bio and it was only then I realized that he was former military, kick-boxer, second degree black belt in karate, you know someone who’s very experienced in combat and someone who’s put me instantly in very much an underdog position.”

Page 2 of 3

Senator Brazeau, 37, told HOH that he felt “very good” going into the fight. He said he’s been training at Final Round boxing in Ottawa since mid-November, and he and Mr. Trudeau have the same trainers. When CTV Ottawa ran the story last week, the National Post had fun with the story and other media followed it.

“I look forward to perhaps touching some gloves on a Liberal chin. I know there’s potentially a lot of Conservatives who would like to see that happen, and they will have the opportunity to see that so I’m training hard and I’m taking this seriously, and I’m looking forward to the event,” he said. “All fun aside, it’s for a good cause. On the personal side, I lost my mom [Huguette] in 2004 to lung cancer so even though she may have lost her battle with cancer, I’m continuing the fight in her name. Putting that aside, this is all going to be good fun, and obviously if we can put a smile and a little bit of excitement on people’s faces during that night then it will be a job well done and if it can raise a whole bunch of money then even better.”

The fight, which Senator Brazeau said will be three, two-minute rounds, takes place on March 31 at the Hampton Inn Convention Centre. He said he’s confident he’ll be the winner.

“I’m not very worried. I’m very confident about my skills,” he said. “In past years, at that same event, some people did get knocked out and you got some bloody faces. There will be nothing choreographed, but we’re both being well trained and may the best person win, and I think I will be the one who will win.”

Mr. Trudeau said however that he’s also planning to “do very well” against Senator Brazeau. “The measure of a boxer is not whether you win or lose, it’s how you pick yourself up after getting hit repeatedly. I think I’ll be very good at getting hit. But you know what, I’m also a very competitive person. I plan to do very well,” he said.

Both Mr. Trudeau and Senator Brazeau said there were similarities between boxing and politics. “I think boxing is a little bit more honest at times because there’s a bit of infighting amongst politicians of different colours and stripes and they’re only words. Parliament they have Parliamentary immunity but in the boxing ring, there’s no such thing. There are obviously some rules, but we get to throw some jabs where they’re needed,” Senator Brazeau said.

For Mr. Trudeau’s part, he said you have to be “all in” when it comes to boxing and politics. “You can’t sort of hesitate, you have to really believe in yourself and your capacity to succeed. Otherwise the pain you go through and the pain you put your family through probably isn’t worth it,” he said. “I think boxing is [also] different from politics. There are consequences in boxing when you throw a low blow, less consequences in politics.”

The event also features cocktails, dinner and several other boxing matches and a silent auction. Tickets are $250.

Previous participants in the ring are lobbyist Walter Robinson and CTV Ottawa reporter Terry Marcotte, who fought in 2008 at the first event.

Final Round Boxing Club and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation teamed up that year to organize the event “to increase survivorship in our region.” Last year’s event raised more than $200,000.

“They sell out the Hampton Inn grand ballroom for 600 or 700 or maybe even 800 people so they do very well with this,” said Mr. Trudeau, whose  father and former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had prostate cancer. “I know the kind of visibility that comes from having a couple of high profile political players in a very political town should get even more interest and even more donations.”

Sunday, January 22, 2012

'Freedom 55' after only 6 years?

Pensions - an MP's just desserts or the taxpayers' burden
Sunday, January 22, 2012

OTTAWA - Just weeks before Canadians find out where the Conservatives plan to slash billions of dollars in spending, some analysts are pointing to the "gold plated" MP pensions as a good place to start.

"You go into the public service to serve the public," said Ian Lee, an economist and financial commentator from the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University in Ottawa. "If you want to just make a lot of money, my answer is always the same: just go into the private sector."

Lee noted it would be difficult to find a private-sector employee who becomes eligible for a pension at 55-years-old.

In order to qualify for a pension, an MP has to be in office at least six years plus one day, and contribute seven per cent of their salary for each of those years.

So if an MP earns the most basic salary and works for six years, they would earn $28,260 when after hitting their 55th birthday .

But for any MP who serves more than six years, or who earns a higher salary because they chaired a committee, were named to cabinet or became party leader or Speaker of the House, that person ends up with a more generous pension.

For example, if Pierre-Luc Dusseault, who became the youngest MP in the House when elected in May, retires in 2019 at the age of 27, he would be eligible for a pension of just more than $40,000, according to a recent study the Canadian Taxpayers Federation published.

If Bob Rae remains leader of the Liberal party and retires in 2019, he would collect a pension of more than $96,765 every year, that same study shows.

And if Stephen Harper -- prime minister of Canada, leader of the Canadian Alliance and Conservative party -- retires in 2019, he will qualify for a pension worth more than $259,500. Bear in mind, that figure doesn't include the four years he opted out of the plan during his time as a Reform MP.

The Taxpayers Federation said their numbers were estimates based on publicly available information and data.

While those figures might seem like a generous gift from the taxpayers, Canadians should consider that being an MP means working 18-hour days, spending loads of time away from family and being under constant public scrutiny, defeated Liberal MP Martha Hall Findley said during an appearance on The West Block.

"There are a lot of people (in Ottawa) who left professional lives, me being one of them, who absolutely took a significant cut," she said, suggesting the pensions could be painted as a perk to help attract good candidates to a job that has several unappealing factors.

"An MP makes a very solid salary compared to most Canadians. Absolutely. And the pensions are good. Absolutely," Hall Findlay said. "But when we consider what a lot of those MPs have given up to be able to contribute to public service, it's significant."

The problem with that logic, Lee said, is that it assumes monetary compensation is the only incentive for anybody seeking public office.

"There's intellectual compensation -- policy. Most people don't pass laws," he said. "Three hundred and six people are controlling the lives of 33 million people."

When asked last week, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said MP pensions don't fall under his watch, but said he expected there to be some discussion round the fund, which taxpayers pour $102 million into every year, according to the Taxpayers Federation.

Follow The West Block on Twitter.

'Stunningly stupid' or just plain stupid?

Good Day Readers:

Are these the critical questions:

(1) To the extent possible have all environmental and ecological concerns associated with the Northern Gateway Pipeline been adequately addressed?

(2) Will continuous maintenance and monitoring systems be in place to prevent spills before they occur or at least immediately identify them?

(3) Are Enbridge's emergency response plans and resources adequate should there be an accident?

No revenue estimates (royalty payments) have yet been made available of the dollar amounts that will accrue to Alberta, British Columbia and the federal government. Is it not disingenuous on the part of those who oppose the pipeline simultaneously calling for better, improved social safety net programs? From where will the money come?

Clare L. Pieuk

Newt gives Prime Minister a nod in victory speech
Bryn Weese
Senior Washington Correspondent
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Republican United States Presidential Candidate and former house speaker Newt Gingrich (Reuters/Eric Thayer)

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- This southern state and the Republican nomination race may be far removed from Canada, but that didn't stop Palmetto State primary winner Newt Gingrich from giving a shout out to Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his victory speech.

While blasting President Barack Obama for rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline and the thousands of jobs it has been estimated it would create, Gingrich warned Canada will send its oil to China instead.

And he praised Harper, too.

"What Prime Minister Harper -- who, by the way, is conservative and pro-American -- what he has said is he's gonna cut a deal with the Chinese and they'll build a pipeline straight across the Rockies to Vancouver," Gingrich said Saturday night. "We'll get none of the jobs, none of the energy, none of the opportunity.

"Now, an American president who can create a Chinese-Canadian partnership is truly a danger to this country."

The Northern Gateway Pipeline would actually run from the Alberta oilsands to Kitimat, British Columbia, which is several hundred kilometres north of Vancouver. And, even if the regulatory process went as well as its proponent Enbridge hopes, it would be at least 2017 before any oil would flow to the west coast and Asian markets.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration rejected TransCanada's bid to build the $7 billion Keystone pipeline, citing the 60-day deadline by which he had to decide on the application imposed by Congressional Republicans didn't allow enough time to review the proposal.

At the time, Gingrich called the president's move "stunningly stupid."

On Saturday, he continued his attacks on Obama, calling him "out of touch with reality.

"The president says, 'no,' we don't want you to build a pipeline from central Canada straight down with no mountains intervening to the largest petrochemical centre in the world, Houston, so that we'd make money on the pipeline, we'd make money on managing the pipeline, we'd make money on refining the oil, and we'd make money on the ports of Houston and Galveston shipping the oil," Gingrich said. "Oh no, we don't want to do that because Barack Obama and his extremist left-wing friends in San Francisco, they think that'll really stop the oil from heading out."

Supporters of the Keystone pipeline, which would ship 700,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf of Mexico, have estimated the project would create 20,000 jobs and add hundreds of billions to the American economy.

Critics have opposed the project because the original route took the pipeline through an environmentally sensitive area in Nebraska. Even though TransCanada and the Nebraska legislature have since agreed to a new route around the Ogallala Aquifer, some environmentalists still oppose the pipeline because they say crude from Alberta's oilsands is "dirty" and more carbon intensive to produce.

Gingrich won the South Carolina primary Saturday with 40% support ahead of Mitt Romney who finished second with 28%. Rick Santorum and Ron Paul received 17% and 13% respectively.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

South Carolina today?