Monday Blog Roundup

In the second Monday Blog Roundup I will be discussing two blog posts from SLAW, Canada’s leading law blog, as well as two posts from American blogs.  The topics include first nations’ on juries, violence and threats against lawyers, myths about lawyers, and a Judge facing discipline for being a stand-up comedian.

In this evolving series, I plan to discuss blogs that I have read over the past week (or, in the interests of full disclosure, those I found in my research prior to writing this post).  The blogs will not necessarily have been published int he preceding seven days.

Report on Improving First Nations’ Representations on Ontario Juries – Omar Ha-Redeye, SLAW, March 3, 2013

In this post, Omar Ha-Redeye blogs about the release of the Issues Report on Improving First Nations’ Representation on Ontario Juries, authored by former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci.  Omar explains that the ultimate conclusion of the report is that there is an underrepresentation of First Nations individuals sitting on juries an working in the justice system despite their overrepresentation in the prison population.  In the post, Omar explains a possible source to this problem:

Iacobucci acknowledges that systemic racism towards First Nations does exist in our justice system, and First Nations view the justice system as alien and foreign to their values, which is a significant factor for their reluctance to participate in the system to begin with.

A jury is supposed to be made up of one’s peers.  In my mind it should represent a cross-section of the Canadian populace.  In reality, many juries’ do not accomplish this.  I expect this problem affects other groups as well.

Violence and Threats Against Lawyers is a Growing Concern in Canada - David Hyde, republished on SLAW by Yosie St-Cry, February 28, 2013

In our adversarial legal system there are bound to be people who are upset with the end result of a case, or even how things are going as the case proceeds.  Most people show respect for the process and don’t let their emotions get away with them.  It is not surprising though that there is the odd person whose emotions turn into criminal acts such as violence and threats of violence.  In this post, Yosie St-Cyr republishes a blog post by lawyer David Hyde where Hyde provides a very thorough analysis of what threats Canadian lawyers may face.

As it turns out, according to Hyde those working in criminal law (including both defence lawyers and prosecutors) were in the highest risk category along with family lawyers.

Six Myths About Lawyers - Dan Bowling, The Careerist, February 19, 2013

In this post, Bowling seeks to debunk six myths about lawyers.  The myths are as follows:

  1. Lawyers are miserable.
  2. If you’re depressed, that’s your problem.
  3. Negative, cautious types get better grades.
  4. Lawyers are cynical.
  5. Successful female lawyers are cold and emotionless.
  6. Emotional intelligence is overrated.

I’ll quickly address a couple of these myths myself.  First, among my colleagues in criminal defence, very few seem miserable.  This may be because this is an area people choose out of interest (very few go into criminal defence for the money), or that we actually get to be in court regularly (when most think lawyer they think courtroom), but most people do seem quite happy and content with their jobs.  The myth about female lawyers seems quite ridiclous.  I can think of numerous female colleagues who are anything but cold and emotionless but actually quite personable and with great senses of humour.

Judge Facing Ethics Challenge Because He’s Also a Stand-up Comedian – Joe Patrice, Above the Law, February 26, 2013

In this post, the story is told of a municipal judge in South Hackensack, New Jersey, who works as a stand-up comedian.  According to the post, the job of municipal judge is not a full-time job and is generally performed by practicing lawyers as somewhat of a public service (the pay is minimal).  Personally, I like the idea of Judges having hobbies and personal lives.  It provides a different perspective from the bench and makes for better Judges.  I see no reason why being a stand-up comedian would be any different an ethical issue as a Judge who enjoys fishing, teaches exercise classes, or is a member of a book club.

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