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Monday, January 23, 2017

LAWYER LAUNCHES FREE DATABASE
Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer Sean Robichaud has launched an online database that will eventually share all of his criminal law precedents for free.

Robichaud has started uploading precedents to his website in the hope it will make law more transparent and lawyers more efficient.

“Information as a whole is moving towards ease of availability online and law seems to be one of the last bastions where it’s protected so tightly as if they’re trade secrets of a firm,” he says.

“I don’t see it that way. I see it as something that can benefit us all.”

The lawyer has uploaded more than 300 of 10,000 documents to robichaudlaw.ca and expects the database will be fairly comprehensive by the end of 2017.

Robichaud says he decided to create the database as he was getting weekly requests from lawyers to share precedents.

“I just started thinking what’s the big secret?” he says.

“If I’m going to go to the effort of vetting these precedents so they can be shared with other lawyers, why not post them so they can obtain them at their own leisure and ease?”

Robichaud says it will make lawyers more efficient, as they will be able to focus on more important tasks and will not have to focus on doing some of the more mundane work.

The precedents will also give the public a greater appreciation of the complexity of law and make them aware of the dangers of representing themselves, Robichaud says. He says he has no intention of monetizing the database at any point.

RYAN PECK WINS SIDNEY B. LINDEN AWARD
Legal Aid Ontario has given the Sidney B. Linden Award to Ryan Peck.

Peck has served as the executive director of the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario since 2007, and he has been credited with actively advocating for low-income people who need access to legal services.

LAO will present Peck with the award, which honours those who have demonstrated commitment to helping low-income people, at a ceremony at Osgoode Hall in February.

CLEO LAUNCHES NEW JUSTICE WEBSITE
Community Legal Education Ontario has launched a new online initiative that it hopes will help the public access reliable information to meet their legal needs.

The website — StepsToJustice.ca — is being billed as the first of its kind and offers step-by-step information for people seeking legal information.

CLEO hopes StepsToJustice.ca will provide people with answers to legal questions and problems in a variety of areas.

LAW TIMES POLL
Law Times recently reported that the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a finding of partial liability against the City of Ottawa and a bus driver for a fatal crash, even though another driver involved was impaired.

Readers were asked if this was a reasonable ruling. Roughly 35 per cent said yes, findings of liability should factor in whether a person is a professional driver.

The remaining 65 per cent said no, expectations of professional and non-professional drivers should be identical.

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Law Times poll

After the Supreme Court set out a framework to assess the independence of expert witnesses, litigators have different opinions about whether it’s too difficult to exclude expert evidence on the basis of bias. What do you think?
Yes, it remains very hard to get this evidence excluded, but this may change as trial court judges pay more attention to the backgrounds of expert witnesses.
No, it is not hard to get this evidence excluded, as the courts continually refine the role of experts in both criminal and civil litigation.