Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bits and Briefs

With a holiday weekend just ahead, it's time to catch up with a few stories, some old and some new:

  • A lawsuit is obviously ahead between the Redneck Shop, "a KKK store" in Laurens, South Carolina, and David Kennedy, its black, civil rights activist landlord. "Since 1996, the Redneck Shop has operated in an old movie theater that, according to court records, was transferred in 1997 to Kennedy and the Baptist church he leads." The landlord's has a bit of a legal problem here, however. The "KKK Store's" owner holds a lifetime lease for the premises. See: KKK store, civil rights activist landlord may go to court - CNN

  • The Supreme Court of Canada will hear argument next week on whether the Vancouver municipal transit system was wrong to refuse "rock the vote" ads from the Canadian Federation of Students during the last provincial election. The ads, which focused on tuition costs, minimum wages and similar issues were rejected as overtly political. Writing in the Vancouver Sun, Jamie McLean comments, "While probably based on good intentions, the GVRD policy constitutes a deliberate form of government censorship. The government does not have to provide spaces for public speech or advertisement, but once it does so it cannot then dissect Charter protected expressions into classes of suitability." - See: One of our vital freedoms is at stake in court ruling - Vancouver Sun

  • LL.B or J.D.? - The University of Western Ontario's law school will decide this vital question March 31st.

  • An Ontario Superior Court judge has stayed cocaine trafficking charges against a man tasered twice by police - once after he was already subdued. Ruling that the tasering infringed the accused's Charter rights, Judge David Brown said: ""Officer (Michael) Fonseca deployed his Taser well after Mr. Walcott had been subdued and handcuffed.. In addition, since the discharge of a Taser after a person has been restrained and controlled would have no other purpose than to punish the person ... I find that Officer Fonseca's discharge of his Taser on Mr. Walcott constituted cruel and unusual treatment." See: Tasering violated man's rights, judge rules - Toronto Star

  • Two New York lawyers are suing the chain smoker next door for damages over smoke that they say chronically seeps into their apartment and common areas. They say their neighbour's smoking "makes the hallway smell like a Las Vegas casino." - New York Times (h/t - Overlawyered)

  • The Court of Appeals for Ontario has overturned a contempt conviction against Ken Peters, a journalist with the Hamilton Spectator. Mr. Peters was held in contempt in 2004 for refusing to divulge his sources in a civil action between the St. Elizabeth Home Society retirement home and Hamilton-Wentworth Region. Mr. Justice Robert Sharpe stated contempt proceedings should be used only as a "last resort. " He wrote, for the Court, “As the confidentiality of a journalist's source implicates Charter rights and values, every effort should be made to minimize the impact upon those rights and values.. It is sufficiently apparent that the likely effect of revealing a journalist's confidential source will be to discourage from coming forward other potential sources who, for whatever reason, need to conceal their identity... " See: Contempt conviction against journalist overturned - Globe and Mail; CJFE Calls Decision in Source Protection Case an Important Step Forward - Canada News Wire Release from Canadian Journalists for Free Expression

  • Conservative Senator Hugh Segal is staging a battle to keep the Queen in Canada's citizenship oath, in response to a class action suit filed in Ontario Superior Court by lawyer Charles Roach, "who was never granted citizenship because he objects to the monarchy's connection to slavery and refuses to take the oath." See: Senator determined to keep Queen in citizenship oath - St. Catharines Standard

  • Toronto parking tickes are now more expensive - in some cases, up to three times as expensive - City News

  • And finally, a British woman who claimed she was discriminated against by co-workers because of her chronic flatulence from irritable bowel syndrome has lost her claims of disability and racial discrimination and constructive dismissal before an employment tribunal in Leeds. - BBC

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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