Legal Research


Asked and Answered: O’Brien’s Jury Charges (1998) 1

We’ve had a couple inquiries for the O’Brien’s Jury Charges (also known as Civil Jury Charges) publication at the library now. It was first brought to our attention by a student tasked to find it, as it had been referenced in the case Iannarella v. Corbett, 2015 ONCA 110 (CanLII) as follows:

[8] In charging a jury regarding the onus of proof for rear-end motor vehicle collisions, trial judges often use a variation of the standard liability instruction from O’Brien’s Jury Charges (1998), which provides:

A prudent motorist should drive at such rate of speed with his vehicle under such control that he is able to pull up within the range of his vision. If there is any difficulty in seeing because of weather conditions, then common sense dictates that he should travel more slowly. In other words, “if you can’t see where you’re going don’t go”. If the road is icy or slippery, then even more care should be taken. In a case where a vehicle is struck without the driver of the rear vehicle having seen it until it was too late to avoid a collision, then you should ask yourselves; (1) Was he keeping a proper lookout? (2) If he was keeping the best lookout possible, was he going too fast for the lookout that could be kept in the circumstances?”

Members of the jury, generally speaking, when one car runs into another from behind, in the absence of any excuse for such a collision, the driver of the rear car must satisfy you that the collision did not occur as a result of his negligence.

Not being able to find the publication listed anywhere under that particular name, we began to suspect that perhaps it was associated with our other more prominent precedent set of a similar name, O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms and Precedents. Search as we did though, we could find no evidence to that effect either.

So we starting asking around in our librarian circles. At first, except for references to the publication found in other cases as well, we could find no other trace.

Eventually, Jen managed to connect with someone at the National Judicial Institute, the only place we could find that actually had a copy, who had some more information on this little mystery. There is some question about whether the Jury Charges were written by Judge W. David Griffiths and later updated by Judge Joseph W. O’Brien, or vice versa, but either way it was an older set of charges from the late 1990s that seemingly had not been kept up to date, though still useful and quoted since. Since copyright and ownership was somewhat in question, it was clear that it was to remain an internal document available only to judges.

So while we couldn’t actually get our hands on a copy, we count that as a mystery solved.


Research and Writing Tools on WestlawNext

Apparently it’s research week on the blog, with a great resource highlighted yesterday by Jen. Another resource on this topic oft overlooked is the research and writing section in WestlawNext, which you can find by scrolling down to the bottom section of the homescreen and clicking on “Research and Writing Tools”. This section is excellent for use by students and other legal professionals looking for the basics on how to get started on a topic.

This will bring you to the screen below, where you can find a template for a memo, an excellent research checklist that will guide you through the research process, and guides to the Canadian Abridgment (the Abridgment is still, by the way, on our list of most useful underused tools).

Check it out!

We also have a free WestlawNext training session upcoming on April 6, 2017, so RSVP to that if you would like to learn more about how to most efficiently use the platform, or if you just need a refresher!


Thomson Reuters ProView: Part Two

Yesterday I wrote about the Thomson Reuters ProView eReference collection – what it contains, and how you can get access to it at our library. Today, I’m going to focus on a few quick primers for using the platform, and also provide some links to even better training materials. Click on any of the images below to see them a bit bigger.

Basic Navigation Tips

When you enter into the ProView platform at the CCLA Library, you will have a huge screen containing images of all of the titles we have available in our subscription. To find a title, you can scroll through the whole page (it’s organized by subject), or you can also use the box right above the images:

Here I’ve searched for “remedies” in the title field.

 

Continue Reading…


Thomson Reuters ProView: Part One

We’ve been meaning to do a post on the Thomson Reuters ProView eReference platform for a long time; as it turns out, we’re going to do two posts! In this first post, I’ll talk about what that big long title (“Thomson Reuters ProView eReference”) means, what’s included in it, and how you find it here at our library. Tomorrow, I’ll post more about how to use the platform, and some great links to online tutorials.

 

Thomson Reuters ProView eReference Collection – What’s That?

This is the proper name for the online versions of some of the looseleafs published by Thomson Reuters. Some of their looseleafs are only available in Westlaw, and some are only available on the ProView platform. If that seems a little complicated to keep straight, it’s because it is! To help keep it all straight, we’ve put a sticker on all of the looseleaf binders here at the library that have online versions available. You can see a picture of that here.

What’s Included?

Currently, the CCLA library has 80 titles available in our ProView subscription. For the time being, all of these titles are also available in print in the library, but that is likely to change over the course of this year. Some of the titles include:

  • Canadian Employment Law
  • The Law of Costs
  • Construction, Builders’ and Mechanics’ Liens in Canada
  • Compensation and Duties of Estate Trustees, Guardians and Attorney
  • Evidence in Family Law
  • Insurance Law in Canada
  • Remedies in Tort
  • Law of Real Property
  • And many, many more.

How Do I Access This?

The first question everyone has: can I use this from my office if it’s online? And the answer, regretfully, is no. You’ll still have to visit the library to access these online titles. On each of our public computers, you can access ProView through the CCLA Library Toolkit icon. There should be no additional steps to accessing this platform from there.

While you still have to venture into the library, many people will find the ability to search the book using keywords to be an excellent additional value. You may also appreciate the ease with which you can email excerpts of the books to yourself, or save them to a memory stick. Also, since we also have a Westlaw subscription at the library, you can easily link to case law from the book you are reading.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how to use the ProView platform. This program is unlike Westlaw, and also unlike more traditional e-books (like those you might borrow from the library, or purchase for your Kindle or Kobo), so you’ll want to check out how to best use this service.

 


Research Tip: New CanLII Highlighting Feature 1

While we were preparing for the holidays and wrapping up those last minute reference questions in 2016, a cool new feature was quietly rolled out in CanLII – so quietly that we didn’t even notice until last month! If you’re a regular user of CanLII, you’ll want to check this out.

Highlighting terms within CanLII has always been a handy feature. If you’re performing a keyword search, CanLII will highlight where the words appear in the document you select and read from your search results, allowing you to scroll through the text to find those terms. Now, you can edit those terms right from within your search!

 

As in this photo, the keyword search was for “Constructive Dismissal.” The instances of that phrase in the document are highlighted in blue. Now, if you wanted to add another word or phrase, you can click on the little pencil icon next to the down arrow…

 

And a box will open, allowing you to type in another word or phrase! Hit enter…Continue Reading…


Research Tip: Using Google to Site Search

In the course of online legal research (especially legislative) it’s not uncommon that you come across a website’s built-in search engine that refuses to cooperate with what you want it to do. Whether that be a lack of filters, spurious results, or just a bad user interface, there are many offenders (especially, sadly, on our government websites). This at best can lead to frustration and at worst to wasting hours of time not being able to find what you’re looking for. Fortunately, there’s a underused method to leverage Google’s search engines to assist, which I’ll detail below.

But let me start by giving an example. Say we’re looking for Hansard Debates or Committee Proceedings on the Ontario Legislative Assembly website that discuss the Police Services Amendment Act of 1997. I was able to pull up the page for the bill, as seen below, but I unfortunately soon discover that the Act was earlier than when they start directly linking out to any related debates or committee reports from that page.

Knowing, however, that they do have the Debates and Committee Documents online dating back to at least the 1970s, there must be a way to find them. You could try using their built-in search engine at the top right, or even their Advanced Hansard search, but by doing so I’ve usually found myself wading through multiple long documents, most of which do not pertain to what I am looking for.

Fortunately, there’s a quicker way, and Google can be used to do a lot of the heavy lifting here. You can easily narrow a generic Google search to search only a single website. To do this, in a regular google search just type in:

site:http://www.ontla.on.ca/ police services act 105

This will search all of the Ontario Legislative Assembly’s website for the keywords Police Services Act and 105 (I used the bill number to narrow it down from other amending acts). Voila, you can see below our more relevant results linking directly to committee reports, in the usual Google format we are familiar with.

You can do this with any website whose search engine might not be the best. Just use:

site:[url] [keywords]

And let Google do its thing.


Lexis Advance Quicklaw Updates

If you use Lexis Advance Quicklaw at the CCLA Library (or any of the other Ontario courthouse libraries), you may be delighted to hear about some of the new content included in our subscription. As of the beginning of the year, we now have access to a considerable amount of international case law. Available at no additional cost to you, you can now download decisions from the following case collections:

  • All England Law Reports
  • Northern Ireland Law Reports
  • Scottish Civil Law Reports
  • European Court of Human Rights Cases
  • Australian Law Reports
  • New Zealand Law Reports
  • U.S. Decisions from the Supreme Court, Appeal Courts, and District Courts
  • And more!

As always, you’ll have to come into the library to make us of this subscription (no remote access, we’re afraid), or you can get in touch and we’ll see how we can help you remotely. Also, if you’d like some training on using Quicklaw (remember: there’s a new platform interface!), we’ll be holding a training session on March 22nd here in the library. You can RSVP for this free session at this link.


CCLA Compendium of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Actions Across Ontario – October 2016 Update

This one is hot off the press! Just this morning, we were sent the latest update to our Compendium of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Actions Across Ontario. This guide has been produced for the CCLA for several years, with the assistance of students from the University of Ottawa law school, and under the leadership of The Honourable James Chadwick. This year’s update was prepared by Caleb Timmerman – we thank him tremendously for his work on the project!

To check it out, please click here. For your future reference, you can find this publication on the CCLA website under our “Civil Litigation” practice portal.

Also, if you’re looking for the CCLA’s Compendium of Costs, our most recent update is from 2013 – you can find that here.


Provincial Statutes Now Available in HeinOnline

I am far too overly excited to see that historical Provincial Statutes are now available in HeinOnline!

It seems coverage varies between the provinces, but it is fairly extensive thus far and the quality of the pdf scans in HeinOnline are always top notch. Ontario in particular looks to have everything back to 1867. For those needing to do historical legislative research from the comfort of their own office desks, this is excellent news!

inside-provincial

Ontario lawyers have free remote access to HeinOnline through the Law Society. Email us for your password!

 


Searching Federal Hansard Debates

Way back when I did a post about how to search through the Ontario Hansard Debates online, I made a note to myself to follow up with a companion Federal Debates post. This is me following up, after more than a year. Because, well, insert something about dedication (or stubbornness).

As it seems with all things in Canadian Law, online access to the Federal Debates of Parliament (“Hansard”) are scattered across several different websites, and your mileage may vary with each.

  1. Parliament of Canada / LegisInfo – If you’re lucky enough to be dealing with a piece of legislation from 1994 onwards (and the later you go generally the more linked content you will get for each Bill), the main Parliament of Canada website will most likely work well for you. You can trace Bills, click through to their linked debates, and see the reports from related committees.
  2. Canadiana – For earlier debates, use Canadiana.org’s Parliamentary Historical Resources site through the Library of Parliament. This site has the debates from both the Senate and the House of Commons, in both official languages, back to Confederation. The only downside here is that the search engine can be a little finicky. I’ve had the most success with it by narrowing the date range to the date you are interested, and searching the Bill number (not the chapter number of the Act), if you know it.

parl

Like the rest of legislative research, trying to find Legislative Intent is unfortunately not an exact science, but hopefully the above should assist in getting you started. Also, I love doing this kind of research, so please don’t hesitate to let us know should you need assistance!