Refresher sessions for Westlaw, Quicklaw/LexisNexis and CCH Online

Brush up on your online searching skills!

The library is pleased to offer the following training sessions for upper year and graduate students:

  • Westlaw: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
  • Quicklaw/LexisNexis: Monday, March 2, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
  • CCH Online Wednesday March 18, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

All sessions will take place Room 2011.

To register email, specifying which session/s you would like to attend.

Research sessions for upper year and graduate students

The library is pleased to offer the following research sessions for upper year and graduate students:

1. Working with Case Law – January 21
2. Working with Legislation – January 28
3. Finding Journal Articles – February 4
4. Working with eBooks – February 11
5. Working with Legal Citation – March 4
6. Working with Zotero – March 11

All sessions will take place from 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm in Room 2011.

To reserve a spot please email indicating which number session/s you would like to attend.

Libraries Celebrate Open Access Week with screening of “The Internet’s Own Boy”

York University Libraries will celebrate International Open Access Week from Oct. 20 to 26. Open Access Week is a global campaign that promotes open access as an ideal for the dissemination of scholarship and research. On Oct. 24, to reflect this year’s theme “Generation Open,” the libraries will host a movie screening and talk by Carys Craig, renowned copyright scholar and associate dean research and institutional relations at Osgoode Hall Law School.

Osgoode Prof Carys Craig

Osgoode Prof Carys Craiig

Professor Craig shares the enthusiasm of the global campaign. “I’m delighted that York University Libraries is celebrating Open Access Week. This is truly one of the most important social movements of the digital age, and one in which universities like ours have a vital role to play.” Open Access Week serves to highlight the successful realization of viable and sustainable business models for open access scholarship, particularly in the science, technology and medicine disciplines, and also provides an opportunity to identify, discuss and address barriers to adoption. The ultimate goal is to ensure that publicly funded research is available to the public, and that all global citizens have equal and barrier-free access to the wealth of the educational commons, regardless of their economic means.

Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz

The Internet’s Own Boy is a documentary highlighting the extraordinary life of Aaron Swartz. A key author of the RSS standard at the age of 14, Swartz was also a tireless advocate against censorship, co-founding the Demand Progress organization, which successfully halted SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) legislation from coming into force. In the course of his pursuit of public access to academic research, Swartz was apprehended for a mass downloading attempt of JSTOR holdings. Facing excessive punitive charges from a regime determined to make an example of him, he took his own life.

The screening will be introduced by Prof Craig. “This powerful documentary is not just a tribute to Swartz’s life and legacy, but is also a call to action for all of us.”  As author of Copyright, Communication & Culture: Towards a Relational Theory of Copyright Law (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Press, 2011), Craig asks people to broaden their view of copyright beyond its tradition of possessive authorship to allow space for collective communication with the broader community with an eye for the greater public good. In her work, she calls on people to reimagine copyright and to correct the imbalance that Swartz fought to bring to the attention of the public sphere. Her insights will foster a nuanced and deeper appreciation for the causes Swartz so bravely hoped to further, highlighting the tragedy of his loss.

‘Road to Justice’ Exhibit in Osgoode Library Examines Historical Discriminatory Treatment of Immigrants in Canada

Road to Justice, a new exhibit which opens today in the Osgoode Library, documents the historical discriminatory treatment of Chinese Canadians and other immigrants of colour in Canada, the communities’ triumph over racism and the lessons Canadians can learn from history. The exhibit will be on display in the library until Friday, October 3, during regular library hours.

The travelling exhibit and its companion websites, Road to Justice/Chermin vers la Justice, were developed by the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic with the support of the federal Department of Immigration & Citizenship’s Community Historical Recognition Program and the Unifor (formerly CAW) Social Justice and Humanity Funds.

This legal history project is in part an investigation of the social values and politics that led to such shameful laws as the Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act, 1923) and the various head taxes on Chinese, which – along with other federal, provincial and municipal statutes – created a body of law that was aimed at restricting the lives and activities of a single race of people.

Selected decisions in key court cases are also summarized. The second part of Road to Justice covers interviews and biographical sketches of some of the first Chinese Canadian lawyers, as well as key activists in the Redress Campaign who lobbied the Government of Canada for an apology for more than 60 years of legislated discrimination against them and their community.

These early laws were clearly discriminatory and they provide a stark contrast to the multiracial, multicultural Canada we share today with others from all parts of the world who have chosen this country as their home.

After the exhibit closes at Osgoode, it will move to Ryerson University in downtown Toronto, opening there on October 13.

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.