On May 12, 2015, CBC news reported that Emmerson Brando – a well-known Calgary-based court agent – had an extensive criminal history (Meghan Grant, “Emmerson Brando’s criminal past outlined in Calgary court memo” CBC News (12 May 2015) (“CBC News”). This was of great interest to the Calgary Bar owing to his regular appearances in court. Mr. Brando had served 90 days in Canadian jail and 33 months in U.S. prison for offences including fabricating evidence, fraud, identity theft, misuse of a social security number, and making a false statement in a passport application (CBC News).Read More
Welcome to Rights Angle, the ACLRC blog. Here, ACLRC's lawyers and educators seek to provide insight on the human rights and civil liberties issues that are important to Albertans today.
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The link between access to information and access to justice is not often discussed, but it is implicit in our legal process. Document production, questioning, and Crown disclosure are all premised on the notion that one needs access to relevant information in order to present one’s case. This idea should also extend to legal research. Without access to precedents, case law and procedural texts, the ability to adequately argue a case is significantly impaired.
photo: flickr/Jono MartinRead More
Last week, Premier Prentice released the 2015 Alberta budget. Given the current economic climate and slumping oil prices, tax hikes were widely expected. This expectation, it turns out, was well founded. Although the Alberta government declined to increase corporate tax rates or implement a provincial sales tax, the budget raised taxes on income, gasoline, alcohol, and vital statistics data (among other things). This blog post is focused on another levy placed on Albertans that isn’t getting much attention in the news – increased court fees.
Under the new budget, it will cost civil and family litigants more money to access the Courts. A series of new fees is being imposed, and the existing tariffs are getting more expensive. For example, if you have a trial that exceeds five days in the Court of Queen’s Bench, you will now have to pay a $250 daily levy starting on the fifth day. To file a Counterclaim in the Court of Queen’s Bench, you’ll have to fork over a $150 filing fee. Court of Appeal Applications and Family Law Act claims are $50 to file. In addition, in a fee I find most disturbing, a litigant in in the Court of Queen’s Bench must pay $50 to file a Statement of Defence.
photo: Premier Jim Prentice/flickrRead More
Last fall, the Supreme Court of Canada found a hearing fee scheme unconstitutional because it prevented people from accessing courts (see Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia v British Columbia (Attorney General), 2014 SCC 59 (Trial Lawyers)). In Taylor v St. Denis, 2015 SCKA 1 (St Denis), the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal was asked to extend this reasoning to exempt a self-represented litigant from the cost of mandatory trial transcripts. The Court declined this request, choosing instead to distinguish the landmark Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately, the decision in St Denis was impacted by deficits in the applicant’s evidence and arguments. Despite these shortcomings, St Denis serves as a useful indicator to highlight how the Supreme Court’s decision will function as a future precedent.
photo: Neil/flickrRead More
The Alberta Legislature has been the subject of some controversy in recent weeks. On November 20, Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman introduced Bill 202: The Safe and Inclusive Schools Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, Alberta, 2014. A week later, in an abruptly called press conference, Premier Jim Prentice described Bill 202 as “unnecessarily divisive” and announced that his government would introduce its own bill dealing with the issues raised by Bill 202. On December 1, Bill 10: An Act to Amend the Alberta Bill of Rights To Protect Our Children, 3rd Sess, 28th Leg, 2014 was introduced by the Progressive Conservatives. After being subjected to widespread public scrutiny, Bill 10 was amended on December 3, 2014. By the next day, it was clear that the amendment did not quell the rising tide of opposition and on December 4, Premier Prentice announced he was deferring Bill 10’s Third Reading until 2015.
photo: Mel Green/flickrRead More