Study rocks judicial impartiality

A judge’s political stripe and gender have a significant impact on rulings in certain types of cases in the Ontario Court of Appeal, says a new study that rocks the belief in judicial impartiality, reported Canadian Press July 19. "The assumption that this study challenges is one of the bedrock assumptions in our legal system," said James Stribopoulos, a professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School and study co-author. "I think most lawyers would tell you that ‘it depends on the judge.’ But this proves that it definitely does," he said.

The study found that judges differed in opinion on charter challenges, depending on whether Liberals or Conservatives appointed them. The study also traced divergent opinions to a judge’s gender in family law cases. 

Stribopoulos conceded the study – co-authored with University of Alberta professor Moin Yahya – points out the obvious: that judges are human. The solution to a balance is simple: promote more diversity among judges, Stribopoulos said. "That’s why it’s important that the whole of the judiciary looks like the society it judges. And right now, it doesn’t."

Law prof says in Canada, Black would remain free on bond

Conrad Black returns to court today to fight for his freedom, reported The Winnipeg Sun July 19. The 62-year-old former newspaper baron, convicted last week of mail fraud and obstruction of justice, is scheduled to appear before Judge Amy St. Eve for a bail hearing. Prosecutors last week called Black a flight risk because he is facing a 15-1/2- to 20-year prison term and they urged St. Eve to revoke bail. James Stribopoulos, a professor at Toronto’s Osgoode Law School, said Black, if he were facing a bail hearing in Canada, would likely remain free on bond because he has no criminal record and has not breached his existing bail conditions.

York student wins silver at Pan Am Games

Shannon Condie was Mississauga’s first medalist at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. Competing in taekwondo in the women’s 57-kilogram division, the 19-year-old earned a silver medal on Sunday, reported the Mississauga News July 18. "I expected to do well, and I’m thrilled to have a medal," said the York University kinesiology student. "I knew I’d make it to the finals, and even though first place wasn’t to be today, I know the gold will be there for me."

York alum to be inducted as Fellow of Royal Society

When John Borrows (DJur ’94) was growing up on a First Nations reserve in northern Ontario, his grandparents would often tell him that getting a good education was the most important thing he could do to improve his life and make positive changes in the wider community, reported the Oak Bay News on Vancouver Island July 18. He took that message to heart, eventually studying law at the University of Toronto and earning his doctorate at York University. He’s now a professor in the University of Victoria’s faculty of law, where he holds the Law Foundation Chair in Aboriginal Justice and teaches first-year criminal and constitutional law, as well as upper-level Aboriginal law classes.

Borrows is widely respected throughout the country for his efforts to build bridges between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities and to encourage discussion about the ongoing challenges facing Canada’s First Nations. His work in law education and consulting has now been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences. He will be inducted as a Fellow of the society at a Nov. 17 ceremony in Edmonton, joining the ranks of approximately 1,700 scholars, scientists and researchers who have been similarly honoured since the organization was founded in 1882.

Argos’ Johnson and Durie are the pride of York Lions

York University is by no means a football power and like many schools in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, it has struggled to produce skill-position players for the Canadian Football League, suggested a National Post sportswriter July 19. So you can bet that Toronto Argonauts running backs Jeff Johnson (BA ’02) and Andre Durie brought immense pride to their alma mater last week when the former Lions combined for a rare feat. Having two players from the same CIS school score touchdowns in the same CFL game for the same team is not unprecedented, according to Ontario University Athletics officials, but they are quite sure it hasn’t happened with York graduates. Let alone with players that play the same position.

"We can’t buy that type of exposure," said York football coach Andy McEvoy, one of more than a dozen current Lions in attendance last Thursday. Johnson and Durie both had touchdown runs in Toronto’s 48-15 pasting of the Calgary Stampeders. Durie, a rookie with a remarkable comeback story, scored on his first professional carry, romping 33 yards. Johnson, a five-year veteran, plunged into the end zone from one yard away earlier in the game.

"It was something special," Johnson said. "It was York pride, but it was also about what [Durie] has gone through to get to this point – 99.9 per cent of the population would have packed it up, but Andre is a special person. He made it and he showed the country that he can do it."

"Of course I’ll miss York," Durie said. "That’s where it all started. They gave me my first chance and there are so many memories there."

Venture subsidies still not needed

The Canadian venture capital business seems to be hurting, but retail venture-capital funds (otherwise known as labour-sponsored venture-capital corporations or LSVCCs) are not what’s needed, wrote Douglas Cumming, a finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, in a National Post opinion piece July 18. He and Finn Poschmann, of the C.D. Howe Institute, argued against LSVCCs, which enjoy enormous tax subsidies to support their existence, and for more sensible policy options to facilitate venture investment, including liberalized cross-border investment rules, capital gains tax reform, and broader income tax rate relief. They would benefit Canadians irrespective of the businesses they choose to work for or invest in, and they would all produce solid bang for the buck, the pair wrote.

Tennis prodigies coming down with spine injuries

Young, elite tennis players who undergo intensive training in the fervent hope of becoming the next Roger Federer or Serena Williams may be more vulnerable to spinal injury than previously believed, new research suggests, reported Canadian Press July 19. A "surprising" number of spinal abnormalities, some irreparable, were found in the lower backs of young tennis players who had no history of back pain, say the authors of an article to be published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Some young Canadian players will spend upwards of 20 to 25 hours a week on the court, said Mike Mitchell, head coach of tennis teams at York University in comments about the British study’s findings. "The challenge with the juniors is that they’ll train during the week, and then over the course of the weekend, they’ll go out and play these competitive weekend tournaments," Mitchell said. "And a lot of the times, they don’t allow enough of a recovery period."

On air

  • Paul James,  former player on the Canadian national soccer team and head coach of soccer at York, discussed penalty kicks at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, on CBC Radio’s "Ontario Morning" July 18.
  • In a discussion about the need for bicycle helmets on "CTV News" July 18, York kinesiology Professor Alison Macpherson said the number of emergency room visits for head injuries has gone up 20 per cent in three years.
  • Ricardo Grinspun, a Fellow of York’s Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean and an economics professor in the Faculty of Arts, joined a foreign-affairs panel on the "Michael Coren Show" on CTS-TV July 17 discussing Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Latin America trip, tense UK-Russian relations, internal turmoil in Turkey, and other topics.