Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals – Now Online!

The Osgoode Library now has access to the online version of this important series of international criminal law reports. Access is available to all members of the York University community via Passport York and no username/password is required.

Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals provides you with the full text of the most important decisions, including concurring, separate and dissenting opinions. Distinguished experts in the field of international criminal law have commented the most important decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), The Special Court for Sierra Leone, The International Criminal Tribunal for Timor-Leste and the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Annotated Leading Cases of International Criminal Tribunals is useful for students, scholars, legal practitioners, judges, prosecutors and defence counsel who are interested in the various legal aspects of the law of the ICTY, ICTR and other forms of international criminal adjudication.

The establishment of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda raised many new legal issues, such as the competence of the Security Council of the United Nations to establish a criminal tribunal, the relationship between the Tribunal and national authorities and the protection of vulnerable witnesses without violating the rights of the defence at the same time.

In dealing with these and other issues, one has to bear in mind that there was no useful precedent to guide the International Tribunals in their work. The Intergovernmental Conference for the creation of the statute of the International Criminal Court met with these very same challenges. Therefore, it was and is a major challenge for the Tribunals and the International Criminal Court to come up with creative solutions to legal problems in a manner that enables them to function effectively and fully respects the rights of the accused. The Tribunal’s and Court’s case law provides some of these solutions.

For more information about individual volumes in the series, click here.

More E-books Developments

Some of the library’s e-books are provided to us through Scholars Portal.  The way to access the Scholars Portal books is different from the way we access books on the ebrary platform.  You can tell that the book is a Scholars Portal e-book if you see “Borrow this E-Book” above the cover image of a Scholars Portal Books book.

You will need to follow a specific process to download the e-book onto your personal computer or device.  It will not work on a public computer, and you cannot browse the book before downloading it:

  1. Download a program that supports Adobe IDs:
  2. Create an AdobeID if you don’t already have one.
  3. On the Scholars Portal page for the book, click the orange “Borrow this E-Book” text then the blue “Download your book here” button.
  4. Then a file ending in the extension .acsm will download. This file should automatically open in Adobe Digital Editions, but if it doesn’t, right click on the file and choose “Open with…” then Adobe Digital Editions.

Your book will now open in Adobe Digital Editions. After 72 hours, it will be returned automatically.  You may return it earlier if you finish with it sooner.

For more general information on e-book platforms, see this campus guide.

The Digital Rights Management restrictions on the Scholars Portal e-books vary and are not always the same as the restrictions on the ebrary books.  The Scholars Portal books:

1.         Must be borrowed in their entirety, not just a chapter at a time.

2.         Cannot be browsed (i.e. must be checked out to look at; no partial downloading for the bit you want).

3.         Can only be used by one person at a time (single-user access) unless the catalogue says we have more than one “copy.”

4.         Are checked out for 72 hours (3 days) at a time, at which point the book disappears along with any highlighting and any annotations you may have made on it.

5.         May be renewed.

6.         Cannot be placed on hold.

7.         Cannot all be printed; some books can only be read (depends on what exact type of licence they have, which is not easy to determine). For books that permit printing, the maximum amount allowed is 20%.

8.         Need to be used with a reader that is compatible with Adobe Content Server (ACS), because books are not PDFs (see point no. 1 in the first list).  There should be a prompt from the reader to do this.  The e-book can be read by you on multiple devices if it is downloaded and opened under the same Adobe ID.  You have to be careful, though, because an Adobe ID can only be used on a maximum of 6 devices ever.  If you are on a public computer, and find one of these books to check out, e-mail the .acsm file to yourself to check it out on your own device.

Troubleshooting and Miscellaneous

1.   If it says “unable to download: already fulfilled by another user” someone else has already downloaded and opened the book.

2.   If it says “unable to download: already returned” you may have accidentally returned it: refreshing should bring it back.

3.   When you are in, you have a reading panel and a library shelf.  The ribbon says if your book has expired. For unexpired books, click on the ribbon to see the time remaining for the book.  It also says what rights you have to print/copy the book and has the button for returning the book before it is due.  If you click on a book and get an “unable to return: bad loan” message you are trying to return a book that has already been returned.  If the book has expired, you have to start from scratch to borrow it again.

4.   The most common problem people have is using Adobe Acrobat Reader instead of Adobe Digital Editions.

5.   Sometimes people using Chrome or Bluefire encounter problems.

6.   LibAnswers has answers to a number of users’ questions – select “borrowable e-books” from the topics dropdown).

7.  There is a handout on downloading Adobe Digital Editions etc. from LibAnwers.

The Law It Self: Sir Edward Coke and his Lasting Authority

Bacon and Shakespeare: what they were to philosophy and literature, Coke was to the common law. – J.H. Baker

Sir Edward Coke, 1552-1634. The First part of the Institutes of the Laws of England; or, A Commentary upon Littleton, Not the Name of the Author Only, but of the Law it Self.  12th ed. London: 1738.

The Osgoode Library has recently been the recipient of an important donation from Fraser Laschinger, Osgoode ’73: a copy of the 12th edition of Sir Edward Coke’s famous commentary on Sir Thomas Littleton’s Institutes of the Laws of England, printed in London in 1739. Coke on Littleton is one of the great authorities of the English common law.

This particular copy is especially valuable for its remarkable provenance, reflective of Canadian legal history. As evidenced by an armorial bookplate on the inside front cover, the text came to Canada sometime in the late 18th Century with Sir James Monk (1745-1826), who was appointed Solicitor General of Nova Scotia in 1772 and acting Attorney General in 1775. He served as Attorney General of Lower Canada 1776-1789 and again 1782-1794, when he was appointed Chief Justice of Lower Canada. Monk built the mansion Monklands in Montreal, the oldest remaining Palladian-style villa in Canada, which was the residence of Canadian Governors General from 1844 to 1849. Lord Elgin lived in the house, where his son, Victor Bruce, the future Viceroy of India was born. The house was acquired in 1854 by the Congrégation de Notre Dame to serve as a girls’ boarding school, Villa Maria, which still operates today in the same building.

Initials inscribed in the text may also refer to a further possible association of this copy with Edward Goff Penny, the Montreal journalist and conservative politician, called the Bar in 1850. Mr Laschinger’s father acquired the book upon purchase of the Montreal home of Mme Jeanne Vanier (née Tétrault, widow of Antoine Vanier) in 1950. This book complements copies of other editions of Coke on Littleton already in the Library’s Canada Law Book Rare Book Room, the earliest being the 2nd edition, 1628. We thank Mr. Laschinger for his generosity.

Sir Edward Coke (that’s pronounced Cook, as I found out the hard way) was a prominent English jurist and politician whose Institutes of the Laws of England have had an enormous impact on the development of English law, and by extension, common law in general.

Coke was born in Norfolk in 1552. He entered the Inner Temple in 1572 and was called to the bar six years later. He ably proved his worth as a jurist and rose through a number of positions in the public service, eventually beating out rival and renaissance man Sir Francis Bacon for the post of Attorney General in 1594. Besting Bacon seems to have been among Coke’s many talents: four years after his appointment, Coke again found himself at odds with Bacon as they competed for the hand of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, which Coke won.

As Attorney General, Coke was involved with a number of high profile cases; Coke prosecuted both Sir Walter Raleigh and the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Until his retirement in 1628, Coke spent the rest of his career in politics, though at times, like many of today’s statesmen, he found himself on both sides of scandal.

Today, Coke may be best remembered for his defense of the supremacy of the common law against Stuart claims of royal prerogative, and for his four-part series of treatises, The Institutes of the Laws of England. Coke’s Institutes were not only influential in their day, but continue to be of great importance to the common law tradition in their collective role as “books of authority”.

What are books of authority? The International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law offers a clear description of their use in law:

The function of academic works [in law] may differ. A judge may be required, if in difficulties, to follow the opinion of one or more particularly expert jurisconsults. Or [academic works] may be of persuasive authority only.

The former system was used at the time of the Roman Empire, where the famous Law of Citations promulgated by Emperor Valentinian III in 426 required the opinions of certain jurisconsults (Gaius, Papinius, Paul, Modestinus, and Ulpian) to be followed. This Law also determined which authority was to be followed if they disagreed on a point requiring resolution.

The principle of the Law of Citations has frequently been accepted: in societies where written matter was rare there was a great temptation to recognize that the writings of certain eminent personages constituted a definitive statement of the law.

Thus it was accepted in England that certain works had authority, and that their authors must be considered as having stated correctly what was known, in Coke’s phrase, as the general immemorial custom of the realm. These “books of authority” are Glanvill and Bracton in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Littleton and Coke in the sixteenth and seventeenth, and Blackstone’s Commentaries in the eighteenth century. In our day the proliferation of precedents and their increasing authority, and the frequent intervention of the legislature, have replaced the rules stated in these works by new rules. However, English authors continue to regard them respectfully as books of authority which can be relied on before the courts, if necessary.

The Oxford Dictionary of Law (7th ed, 2006) also discusses “books of authority” in its definition of textbooks:

Textbooks may be cited in court to assist in the interpretation of the law. They have no authority as a source of law but merely provide an expert opinion as to the current state of the law. There was formerly a convention that only the works of dead authors could be cited, but modern practice also allows citation of living authors. The Books of Authority, i.e. the works of Glanvil, Bracton, Littleton, Coke, and Blackstone, are treated as having the same authority as cases of the same period.

A quick search on CanLII for Edward Coke in Canadian Supreme Court documents returns over fifty cases citing Coke as an authority; a similar search in US Supreme Court cases returns over one hundred. Clearly, Coke is one for the ages. Though he displays admirable modesty in the subtitle of his First Institute by referring to his precursor Littleton as “the LAW it self,” it is Coke who is consistently referred to as the authority, not Littleton, and the title may as well be attributed to him.

Eastern European and CIS Law

Given the near-ubiquity of Ukraine and Russia, along with the attendant complicated history and politics that run deep between them, in the news over the past weeks and months, it would seem that it would be a good time to do a brief blog post on available resources for legal research former Soviet CIS (Commenwealth of Independent States) states.

The ongoing Russian invasion of Crimea almost seems to read like a fact pattern for an international law or international relations exam. Multiple violated treaties, violations of international conventions, trumped-up justifications for invasion and so on – not to mention the Cold War and Great Game rhetoric and power struggles that just won’t seem to die. Which, of course, means that it is a fascinating situation to watch unfold, as the Guardian’s daily live updates of the situation have proven. Thankfully, the human cost has, at the time of this writing, been mercifully modest. On a personal note, my wife grew up in Crimea and my in-laws still reside there, so it is something that has struck a resonant chord – not to mention tremendous nervousness.

As the Ukrainian crisis has amply demonstrated, the rule of law – along with the accompanying legal frameworks – is hardly robust in many parts of the former Soviet Union. This makes legal research problematic, as the law does not necessarily represent the way the legal system actually works – “dualism” is a long-standing tradition in Russian law.

Our hard copy collection of materials on this area is modest, although we do have a handful. The leading English-language scholar of Russian and former Soviet law is William Butler, from whom we have quite a few texts that he either wrote or translated. Two that are particularly notable right now are International Law: A Russian Introduction and a largely Russian text on comparative law, Foundations of Comparative Law, which includes an essay entitled “Place of Ukraine on the legal map of the world”. Another author whose work is worth consulting is Igor Kavass, whose bibliographies of Soviet and early post-Soviet Russian law are exhaustive.

The usual suspects in terms of databases and eResources are also a rich source of secondary material, and there are also some specialized resources that are useful as well. HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated is an excellent source of, as the name suggests, world constitutions, both current and historical. There are also selected articles, commentaries, and bibliographies. The turmoil of Russia’s 20th century history is highlighted by the list of constitutions in 1917, 1918 (twice), 1923/24, 1925, 1936, 1937, 1947, 1977, 1978, and 1993.

Another fantastic resource is the Foreign Law Guide, which is a regularly updated source of both primary and secondary information on foreign legal systems. There is often legal history, commentary, and a selection of the best sources on myriad areas of the law in many countries. Not everything is readily available, but where possible they will link to online resources.

As always, if you are stuck or looking for places to start, you can come by and speak with a librarian. We’re here to help!

Tips for Using E-books

 

Electronic books have become very popular based on our usage statistics. Last semester, the Irwin law titles in the ebrary platform were heavily used. Working with e-books comes with a lot of pros such as the customized features like -

  • Copying and pasting
  • Highlighting into your word document
  • Downloading (this option varies in each platform, some allow you to download a chapter each while others limit you to 100 pages)
  • Creating folders
  • Saving books into your personal bookshelf
  • Export to RefWorks and Endnotes
  • Printing (save as a pdf document first).

Note that you will get better results by creating your own account in ebrary.
E-books are compatible with most devices like tablets, smartphones and eReaders. More information on mobile applications is available here http://guides.scholarsportal.info/content.php?pid=328165&sid=2829117.

There are a few things to note in using e-books.  Like with print books, sometimes we are only permitted to have one or two people access an e-book at a time.  If you are having trouble accessing a book, especially a popular book that needs to be read for class tomorrow, try to access it again in 15 minutes.  Some platforms provide an electronic waiting list.  Be thoughtful of your classmates and download your chapter before reading it so others can access it too.

Downloading and printing have also confused some people.  If you are downloading a chapter or set of pages, take note of how the e-book platform is counting the pages.  Ebrary, for instance, counts the pages starting at 1 for the very first page, even if the page number on the screen is something else, like (i).  You can easily tell by looking at the page count in the top right corner of the ebrary screen.  For example, if the page number printed on the page of the e-book is 172, but it says 202 in the top right corner, you are going to enter 202 as the first page in the page range you want to download (and perhaps eventually print).  Calculate the end page the same way.

If you need help, feel free to contact the reference librarians, or check out the training materials on ebrary’s website:

http://www.ebrary.com/corp/collateral/flash/QuickStart/; http://www.ebrary.com/corp/collateral/en/Quick_Guides/Quick_Guide.pdf.

Online training sessions

Brush up on your online searching skills!

The library is pleased to offer the following online training sessions:

Wednesday January 22, 12:30 to 2:00 – Quicklaw/LexisNexis Academic
Wednesday January 29, 12:30 to 1:30 – Westlaw
Wednesday, Feb. 5, 12:30 to 1:30 – CCH Online

All sessions will take place in Room 2011.

Sessions are open to all students.
To register, send an email to library@osgoode.yorku.ca, specifying which session/s you would like to attend.

Hope to see you there.