Review of the Book ”An Advocacy Primer”

(3rd edition of the book by Lee Stuesser)

This book was released in 2005 by Lee Stuesser, a law professor at the University of Manitoba. It is basically a reference book for how to litigate different types of cases.

The book itself was written for law students in how to work for clients. However, the information provided is very straightforward, and many self-represented persons could get a leg up simply by reading through and following along. Self representation, as discussed here, is possible by many people, on the more simplistic cases.

”An Advocacy Primer” details: (a) how to go about the many steps in litigation; (b) gives many tips on how to prepare documents; (c) organize arguments; and (d) common pitfalls to avoid.

A brief outline of the book:

Chapter 1: Developing a Trial Plan
Chapter 2: Draft of the Pleadings
Chapter 3: Civil Case — Disclosure
Chapter 4: Criminal Case — Discovery
Chapter 5: Making Submissions
Chapter 6: A Trial Notebook
Chapter 7: Running a Civil Trial
Chapter 8: Running a Criminal Trial
Chapter 9: Opening Arguments
Chapter 10: Closing Arguments
Chapter 11: Your Case — Direct Examination
Chapter 12: Using Exhibits
Chapter 13: Principles of Cross Examination
Chapter 14: Impeachment
Chapter 15: Objections at trial
Chapter 16: Special Witnesses
Chapter 17: Appellate Advocacy
Chapter 18: Ethics of Advocacy

Stuesser’s work can be used in one of two ways. First, it can be read straight through as a non-fiction book. Second, it can be used in pieces, as needed for a representative in a legal matter. This 475 page book also gives many templates of legal forms, and exact wordings to include.

The second option is obviously far more practical. The first is possible, although it would be a very tedious read to do in one sitting.

Overall, the book is great source of information, both for self-reps and other legal enthusiasts.

Critical Thinking #2: “Logical Self Defense”, (Review)

(The 3rd edition of the book, by Johnson & Blair)

This book was published by two philosophy professors from the University of Windsor, in Windsor, ON, Canada.

While not directly related to law, the content can be applied to people involved in legal matters. In such cases, a person will try to make factual, logical, and well reasoned arguments while trying to refute the facts, logic, and reasoning of the other side. Being able to debunk an opponent, while preventing yourself from being debunked is a sign of a well put together case.

Of course, one trying to make an argument (or a legal case for that matter), may be lacking in facts, logic, or reasoning. In that case, there are 2 basic pathways: (#1) admit they have nothing; or (#2) try to debate using less than honest tactics. While (#1) does happen often, (#2) is by far the more frustrating one to deal with.

In a legal sense, (#2) will mean going to court/negotiation/arbitration knowing that you don’t have any basis for being there. It adds to time and expense of these proceedings. Happily though, dishonest argumentation can usually be defeated by having stronger arguments.

Here is the previous post on canucklaw.ca, and here is the original article. Here, Mr. Reed goes through the vast array of dishonest tactics used in debating.

As for the Johnson/Blair book, it goes through many types of arguments and statements. Various logical errors and gaps are explained, as is cause-and-effect. Many examples are shown of drawing conclusions where the available information is insufficient or irrelevant. By deconstructing those fallacious arguments, you will likely make far less of them in the future, in order to avoid the same thing from happening to you.

A Brief Outline of the book:
Chapters 1-2: Identifying and Constructing Arguments
Chapters 3-7: Fallacies
Chapters 8-9: Analyzing and Constructing Arguments
Chapter 10: News Media

On some level, the book is a rather dry read, as is the John T. Reed article. If this topic is not of interest to a person, there is nothing I can do to make it sound exciting. However, it picks apart many common errors, and goes through the errors. For someone looking to improve their reasoning and argumentation, it is a tedious, but worthy read.

The techniques shown here are not solely applicable to Canada or the United States. Being able to defend one’s self logically (hence the title), is a universally applicable skill. Defend yourself!

Critical Thinking #1: Honest v. Dishonest Debate Tactics, (Review )

Note: This is a response to a posing in August 2015 by John T. Reed. Mr. Reed goes on to list the 2 ways which you can HONESTLY debate someone, and then the myriad of ways one can DISHONESTLY debate another. Mr. Reed has no affiliation with this site, and this review is based on reading his website.

The webpage can be found click here.

Mr. Reed lists 2 ways to HONESTLY debate. They are:
1. pointing out errors or omissions in your opponent’s facts
2. pointing out errors or omissions in your opponent’s logic

He then goes on to cite dozens of ways you can DISHONESTLY debate. Here are a few:
(1) Name calling;
(2) Changing the subject;
(3) Straw-Man arguments (misrepresenting a person’s views);
(4) Conflating facts and opinions;
(5) Manipulating language;
(6) Badgering a person (keep repeating the question);
(7) Finding small errors (arguing the minor points while avoiding the major ones);

Mr. Reed early on expresses his frustration at how people debate. To quote him:

One of the great disappointments of my life is discovering how thoroughly dishonest most people are. Some people will, on the slightest provocation, fire off a statement or paragraph that contains three, four, five, or six different, intellectually-dishonest arguments in a matter of seconds. Alan Colmes who regularly appears on Fox News is one of them. Juan Williams is another.

The page is well worth a read. Going through it, these examples can regularly be found in both the media and politics. People do get exposed to these dishonest tactics and often do not realize it.

Why This is Important to This Site
Aside from being a very interesting read, the lessons here are applicable in the topic of law.

Mr. Reed argues that debate consists of: (a) Facts; and (b) Logic. In other words, the logic which connects those facts form the basis of argument. Similarly with the law, it mainly consists of: (a) Facts; and (b) Law. Facts are tried, and their applicability to the law is then contested. Actually, the practice of law really is just a form of debate.

Overall it is a very thorough list.

E.U. Punishes Memberstates for Daring to Exercise Soverignty

Hungarian Parliament Building

(September 12, 2018), The European Union has triggered Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Many reasons were given, but it is widely believed that the main one has to do with immigration. Hungary has blatantly refused to accept forced migration quotas, and has run on a “Hungary for Hungarians” platform. While Victor Orban’s policy is extremely popular, and helped his re-election in April, the E.U. is angered at the open defiance.

Nationalism is alive and well in Europe. Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are 4 central European nations known as the “Visegrad 4”. They are against open borders. Sebastian Kurz in Austria and Matteo Salvini in Italy recently won on populist platforms. Hungary is hardly alone.

While the E.U. professes outrage, Orban is actually running on the agenda he specifically set out to do. He sealed Hungary’s borders and stopped 99% of the illegal immigration. He has also stopped all funding for illegal migrants, and banned NGOs from aiding and abetting. While claiming these to be “human rights abuses”, it seems there is little the E.U. can do about it.

To give some perspective, there are many more legal hurdles to clear before anything actually happens. Poland, for example, had Article 7 triggered against it in December 2017, almost a year ago, see here, and also see here. Yet nothing has actually happened.

But ultimately, Hungary could lose its voting rights within the E.U. (as could Poland). Should this happen, they would be subjected to laws which they have no say in enacting or repealing.

Critics have loudly advised Hungary and Poland should just leave the European Union altogether. In 2016, the UK invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty in order to begin to leave the EU. Nigel Farage of the UK, and Marine Le Pen of France openly mock the E.U. as violating the will of sovereign European nations.

More insight to the European Union and their laws will be given on a future article.

    Author’s Views

: From my perspective as a Canadian tourist, an integrated Europe and common currency does make travel, movement, and purchasing easier. However, it is disappointing to see how much sovereignty is eroded in the name of “unity”. A nation should be able to control its own borders, currency, language, culture, economy and way of life. While this union may have at one time been useful, it is undermining the autonomy and independence of the host countries.

Ontario Gov’t Using Notwithstanding Clause to Shrink Toronto City Council (Bill 5)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford. (Source: HuffPost)

Ontario’s new Conservative Premier Doug Ford is attempting to shrink the Toronto City Council almost in half (from 47 to 25 members).  The main argument is that the ever expanding size of the council does nothing to actually improve representation and effectiveness.  Rather, it just leads to increased staff and costs for taxpayers.

Faith Goldy, currently running for Mayor of Toronto in October 22 election posted a YouTube video seen HERE, commenting on it.  An amusing video.

On July 30, 2018, Bill 5, the “Better Local Government Act” got its first reading.  August 14 saw it receive 2nd and 3rd readings and be passed.  However, the Toronto City Council voted to proceed with a legal challenge against it in court.

The Council claimed that the bill violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  See HERE for a link to the text of the Charter.

On September 10, an Ontario Superior Court Judge ruled that the Provincial Government’s decision violated Section 2(b) of the Charter, which states:  Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: …… (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;”.  Specifically, the Judge ruled that the Bill violated Torontonians’ right to “freedom of expression”.

To put it in more detail, because of the ongoing Mayoral and Council elections, cutting the Council size, it substantially interfered with municipal voters’ freedom of expression and the “right to cast a vote that can result in effective representation”.

However, the Ontario Government has decided to re-introduce the Bill, and instead rely on a different part of the Canadian Charter, Section 33, which is the “Notwithstanding Clause”.  In short, this provision allows a Provincial or Federal Government to pass laws even though a Court considers them unconstitutional.  33(1) reads as follows:

 (1) Parliament or the legislature of a province may expressly declare in an Act of Parliament or of the legislature, as the case may be, that the Act or a provision thereof shall operate notwithstanding a provision included in section 2 or sections 7 to 15 of this Charter.”

To be fair, Section 33(3) of the Charter states that legislation passed this way will cease to have effect after 5 years.

The “Notwithstanding Clause” has been a part of the Charter since its inception, but has very rarely been used.

Application of Charter
32. (1) This Charter applies

(a) to the Parliament and government of Canada in respect of all matters within the authority of Parliament including all matters relating to the Yukon Territory and Northwest Territories; and

(b) to the legislature and government of each province in respect of all matters within the authority of the legislature of each province.

There is an interesting twist to this story: The Charter effects both the Federal Government, and the Provinces and Territories. (See above for Section 32). However, Canada is also governed by the Principle of Paramouncy. In short, in the cases of competing laws, the highest power will succeed. Put plainly, Federal law tops Provincial law, and Provincial law tops Municipal law. There is a good deal of logic to this, as Federal law would mean nothing if cities and Provinces could simply legislate their way aroung it.

An exception to this of course: is that the various levels of power cannot legislate if doing so steps outside their legal boundaries. Sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution spell out exactly whose powers are whose.

Hypothetically, the Federal Government could invoke “their” Notwithstanding Clause in order to override “Ontario’s” Notwithstanding Clause. But that doesn’t seem to be happening, at least for now.

A very interesting use of the Notwithstanding Clause. Shows at least the Ontario Government is serious about cutting the size of government. We shall keep an eye on it.

AN UPDATE TO THE STORY: On, September 19, 2018, the Ontario Court of Appeals stayed the order of the Ontario Superior Court, effectively giving Premier Ford the go ahead to shrink Toronto City Council. An interesting note here — while the Court of Appeals did say that shrinking the Council in the middle of a municipal election was unfair, unfairness by itself is not a reason to stop Bill 5.

Bake my Damn Cake — Or Else — You Should Sue the State?

Jack Philips, the owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood Colorado is the owner of the infamous “Gay Cake” refusal.

Quite simply, he refused to create a wedding cake for 2 men, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, about to marry.  He reasoned that he would have to act against his religious beliefs.

Craig and Mullins filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (similar to Privincial human rights commissions, in Canada).  It ruled against Philips, claiming religion was just an excuse to justify bigotry.

So, Philips took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals.  The C.C.A. ruled that no religion had to be endorsed, but that service couldn’t be refused on protected grounds, such sexual orientation.

Finally, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in the baker’s favour.  However, critics complain that the ruling was on overly narrow grounds and did not actually make much of a precident.  It wouldn’t address questions for florists, photographers, caterers, or others with a similar dilemma.  The Supreme Court did however find the Civil Rights Commission was overly hostile to Philips.

Some media background can be found here,
here, here, and here.

The ruling sparked mixed opinions.  Philips claims he has since had people calling to make ridiculous cakes, such as Satan cakes and cakes in the form of sex objects.

But now, Jack Philips is back in the news, and for basically the same reason: refusing to bake a cake for a transgender person named Autumn Scardina, celebrating the 7th anniversary of a gender change.

However, there is more than just a whiff of a conflict of interest here.  Scardina is a lawyer whose firm does cases of employment disputes.

The Colorado Civil Rights Commission has ruled that in principle this appears to be a discrimination case.  So it would seem that matters will be heading down the same road as before.

However, Philips has decided to take a new approach here: suing governor Jerry Hickenlooper and other government officials, claiming religious persecution seen .

here.

It will be interesting to see how things play out.

Author’s Views:  To disclose outright, I believe that the baker should be able to refuse or accept any deal they want, and to accept or reject any business they want.  It would be different if it were a government agency, or a monopoly.  Several questions I must ask.

(1) As for the gay couple, why not simply find another baker?  While it may be annoying to you, why not take your money and business to someone else?

(2) If you wanted others to know about this baker, why would it be necessary to sue him or go to the Civil Rights Commission?  Was the purpose to harm his business?

(3) Part of the backlash against letting gay couples marry in 2015 was the claim (derided as paranoia) that it would lead to religious freedom being stepped on.  Does this not prove that claim right?

(4) Regarding Autumn Scardina and the transgender cake: why go to this “specific” baker, when you knew about the case?

(5) Was it an attempt to get money from him and/or to further harm his business?  Or to use your law firm to make a political point?

(6) As for both the gay cake and the trans cake: do you really want the cake for your “big day” to be made by somebody you filed a civil rights claim against?  It’s not like he cares about keeping your business.