Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Defend the right to criticize!

Here is the answer:

Please view the story at Indiegogo and consider contributing to the Denis Rancourt Legal Defence Fund campaign: LINK

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The crisis of access to justice and self-represented litigants — as I see it

By Denis Rancourt, PhD

There is a crisis of access to justice in Canada. It is a crisis of systemic judicial partiality against ordinary citizens who cannot afford brand-name “justice”.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin frequently warns of a crisis of “access to justice” in Canada. This crisis involves a large and growing number of self-represented litigants who cannot afford lawyer’s fees, which are inflated by corporate clients.

The Facebook group “Canada Court Watch” is focussed on self-represented litigants and has over 4,000 members. Self-represented litigants regularly picket outside courthouses and lawyers offices across the country. Researchers, such as law professor Julie Macfarlane, have described a widespread disillusionment and distrust of the legal establishment by ordinary self-represented litigants from all walks of life.

Beyond what is acknowledged by the chief justice and the legal establishment, there is a widespread conviction among self-represented litigants that the courts are biased against them. I am the coordinator of the Self-Represented Litigant Workgroup of the Ontario Civil Liberties Association, and I have experienced this bias directly as a self-represented defendant.

In a single case of alleged defamation for words on a blog, I have been required to go before 17 different judges, at all courts up to the Supreme Court of Canada, in over 30 open court hearings, over more than three years -- in the motions, appeals of motions, and case conferences in the action against me. I have prepared thousands of pages of legal documents, and I have been ordered to pay legal costs of the suing party of more than one quarter of a million dollars to date, prior to the trial that is now on-going.

In light of my recent experience as a self-represented litigant, it is difficult for me to believe that the pleas of the chief justice are authentic. I tend to think that the chief justice means only that lawyers should be affordable and available for ordinary persons, and that she wishes that the legal processes were less wasteful. However, access to lawyers alone does not provide access to justice, and neither does strong-handed case management by judges.

I feel like I have seen it all in terms of the behaviour of judges, in terms of the tremendous systemic bias against self-represented litigants, and that is described by legal researchers. This bias exists irrespective of my level of education (PhD) and irrespective of my ability to present an argument (former university professor), and so I believe what I have heard about what it is like for a single parent navigating issues of child custody.

In my case, the potential for systemic bias is increased by the fact that the plaintiff is a high-status lawyer within the legal establishment, and two of the lawyers who oppose me have formerly represented Canadian prime ministers. In addition, the private plaintiff is funded without a spending limit by a non-party using public money, a situation that has been denounced by the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (LINK).

At the mandatory mediation I was not allowed an accompanying person (because he was not a lawyer) even though I faced five lawyers on the side suing me. But obvious asymmetries of means are not the only problem.

The evidence for routine judicial bias, as I see it, is overwhelming and includes:
•    the trial judge cancelling my main and pleaded defence, off-the-cuff and in the middle of my opening address to the jury
•    judges and lawyers disrespectfully referring to me in court as “he”, and discussing me as though I were not present (until this behaviour was denounced on the Ontario Civil Liberties Association website)
•    judges’ frequent, repeated, and disorienting interruptions of me in court
•    allowing opposing counsel to make repeated and hyperbolic prejudicial comments, despite my objections
•    not allowing me time to make my arguments, despite my good preparation and organization
•    refusals to hear evidence of misconduct by opposing counsel
•    refusing to acknowledge transcript evidence of opposing counsel leading his witnesses in out-of-court examinations
•    allowing procedural dirty tricks by the lawyers, such as calling motions on one day’s notice
•    constructive barring of my evidence on motions and at trial, using both procedural technicalities and legal abstractions
•    allowing the plaintiff to pick and choose which questions to answer in cross-examinations
•    orders that I pay outrageously high costs, which in effect punish me for trying to defend myself, despite the fact that I have no money
•    orders that I, rather than the opposing party, pay costs even in the cases where I won all or the majority of the points argued in the motions
•    disadvantageous deadlines for document submissions and disadvantageous scheduling of court appearances, despite objections with reasons

In fact, there appears to be no limit to what the court thinks it can get away with when dealing with a self-represented litigant.

In my own case, for example, I discovered that a motions judge (in a motion to end the action) had a blatant conflict of interest. In the middle of the proceedings, I learned that he had strong personal, family, emotional, and contractual financial ties to a party intervening for the plaintiff in the case, and also to the law firm representing the party in court. He had not disclosed any of these ties. The judge’s ties made it inconceivable that he would rule against the plaintiff.

When I presented the evidence of the judge’s ties, the judge lost decorum, threatened me with contempt of court (a criminal judgement), and recused himself, but refused to rule on whether there was apparent bias, and continued to release decisions that stand to this day.

I raised the matter through available procedures with three more judges of the Superior Court, three judges of the Court of Appeal, and six judges of the Supreme Court (in two applications for leave to appeal), but all of them refused to allow bias as a ground for appeal.

In my first attempts, I was not even allowed to access the Supreme Court. It is a demonstration of apparent systemic judicial bias at the highest level that the Registrar of the Supreme Court refused to accept my duly prepared application — and then refused to accept my motion to denounce his refusal to accept the application. This was resolved only because the Ontario Civil Liberties Association made a request, directly to the Chief Justice of Canada, that the Registrar’s conduct be investigated.

That whole bias episode, involving 13 judges from three courts, shows the degree to which the entire judicial structure will tolerate a judge’s apparent bias, at least when the bias complaint is brought by a self-represented litigant being sued by prominent members of the legal establishment.

The only remaining remedy in the matter resides in international law. I am preparing a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee for violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees an impartial court to every litigant in signatory countries, including Canada. Few self-represented litigants can defend themselves this effectively, and there are far too few resources among civil rights organizations to address the gargantuan need.

All of this has only been repeated at the trial itself, which started on May 12, 2014, and which is on-going. Prior to trial, I had asked then Regional Senior Judge Charles Hackland (who resigned on May 8, 2014) to name a case judge who had no connection with the University of Ottawa, and I had made a formal motion for the trial judge to recuse himself because of the judge’s shared interests with the University of Ottawa (LINK). None of this mattered and the trial judge refused to recuse himself. This, and the judge’s in-court actions, led to my walking out of the trial, which was reported in the media (LINK1, LINK2).

My case, the ordeals of countless others, and academic research show that there is a systematic bias against self-represented litigants. Such evident, overt, and pervasive bias proves that the judges are not impartial, but rather are significantly influenced by the social status and power of the litigant. Corporate and government litigants know this well, and count on it. It is the elephant in the courtroom for self-represented litigants.

For self-represented litigants the crisis in “access to justice” is really a crisis in access to an impartial court, a court that is not influenced by social status. This crisis will not be solved by increasing access to lawyers and reducing court backlogs. The solution will require that litigants themselves and civil rights organizations insist on and monitor impartiality of the courts.

In my case, high-profile American political activist Cynthia McKinney has started a petition demanding that the chief justices of Canada allow a new trial with a trial judge having no ties to the University of Ottawa — which is funding the lawsuit without a spending limit — and this has been reported in the media (LINK-petition, LINK-media). Only this type of protest-application of the open court principle, in combination with media exposure and civil society association pressures, has any chance of catalyzing a reform in a system that has now degraded itself beyond self-repair.

There is indeed a crisis, and it is of the court’s making. It is a crisis of partiality against ordinary citizens who cannot afford brand-name “justice”.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is it time for the tort of defamation to be abolished?

Does society evolve? Has the legal system improved since the days of dueling nobles and the Star Chamber?

Consider this remarkable short documentary video: "Guilty Until Proven Innocent: The Tort of Defamation". The actual "The Eyeopener" report by independent journalist James Corbett starts at 3:10 in the video.

Then read the Ontario Civil Liberties Association's position paper on why the common law tort of defamation should be abolished: HERE.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My concise definition of institutional education

Institutionally imposed "study" is unpaid forced labour done by adults and minors. It is as dehumanizing as any regime of forced labour, and it is not only unpaid but it imposes life-long personal debt and health deterioration. Its ancillary benefits (socializing) are only tolerated as a necessary management allowance.

Links to Denis Rancourt's essays about the student condition and student liberation HERE.

Links to Denis Rancourt's essays about the student condition and student liberation

And on transforming education:
  • TVO interview

    Other social theory essays by Denis Rancourt HERE.

    Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Defamation law must be abolished -- Join the effort to abolish defamation law

    Defamation law can't be fixed. It is the only common law tort (cause of action) that presumes guilt. It is a legal abomination, a persistent residue from Star-Chamber England.

    Other torts are enough. This one must go.

    Read this report published by the Ontario Civil Liberties Association:

    OCLA position paper on Bill 83 – The tort of defamation must be abolished in Ontario

    Listen to this radio interview on The Corbett Report:

    Interview 862 – Denis Rancourt Dissects the Tort of Defamation

    Public pressure and civil society can cause governments to legislate this abhorrent stain out of the courtrooms of free and democratic nations.

    For a start, join OCLA, and join the OCLA Facebook group and follow OCLA on Twitter.

    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Climate science is a "Zombie science"

    By Denis G. Rancourt

    Dr. Bruce G. Charlton recently (2012) wrote an informed and polemical book entitled "Not even trying... The Corruption of real science". In this book, Dr. Charlton defines what he calls "Zombie science".

    I submit that Dr. Charlton's definition of a "Zombie science" eminently applies to today's climate science. I predict that today's climate science enterprise will, in some future, be universally adopted as a textbook example of Zombie science by historians of science, who will emerge in a next generation of honest academics.

    Here is the definition of Zombie science given in the on-line version of Dr. Charlton's book:

    When a branch of science based on incoherent, false or phoney theories is serving a useful but non-scientific purpose it may be kept-going by continuous transfusions of cash from those whose non-scientific interests it serves.

    For example, if a branch of pseudo-science based on a phoney theory is nonetheless valuable for political purposes (e.g. to justify a government intervention such as a new tax) or for marketing purposes (to provide the rationale for a marketing campaign) then real science expires and a ‘zombie science’ evolves.

    Zombie science is science that is dead but will not lie down. It keeps twitching and lumbering around so that (from a distance, and with your eyes half-closed) zombie science looks much like real science.

    But in fact the zombie has no life of its own; it is animated and moved only by the incessant pumping of funds.

    Real science is coherent – and testable (testing being a matter of checking coherence with the result of past and future observations).

    Real science finds its use, and gets its validation, from common sense evaluation and being deployed in technology.

    Real science is validated (contingently) insofar as it leads to precise predictions that later come true; and leads to new ways of solving pressing problems and making useful changes in the world.

    But zombie science is not coherent, therefore cannot be tested; its predications are vague or in fact retrospective summaries rather than predictions.

    In a nutshell, zombie science is supported because it is useful propaganda; trading on the prestige which real science used-to have and which zombie science falsely claims for itself.

    Zombie science is deployed in arenas such as political rhetoric, public administration, management, public relations, marketing and the mass media generally. It persuades, it constructs taboos, it buttresses rhetorical attempts to shape opinion.

    Furthermore, most zombie sciences are supported by moral imperatives – to doubt the zombie science is therefore labelled as wicked, reckless, a tool of sinister and destructive forces.

    To challenge zombie science is not merely to attack the livelihoods of zombie scientists (which, considering their consensus-based power, is itself dangerous) – but opens the attacker to being labelled a luddite, demagogue, anti-science, a denialist!

    For all its incoherence and scientific worthlessness, zombie science therefore often comes across in the sound bite world of the mass media as being more plausible than real science; and it is precisely the superficial face-plausibility which in actuality is the sole and sufficient purpose of zombie science.

    In contrast to objective reality, the warmist spin is spectacular.

    Climate science is overwhelmingly supported by the establishment and by global finance which is hard at work installing a  multi-trillion-dollar carbon economy for its profit and to assist in extortion via a development tax against any regime that insists on economic independence. The public opinion battle appears to have been largely won. Valiant resistance is tolerated as a quaint demonstration of freedom of expression in the US. All other civil and societal sectors are aligned, by virtue of the mega-snow-job that equates ecological destruction with CO2 gas (a growth limiting plant nutrient), as opposed to its actual causes. (The cause of ecological destruction is ecological destruction!)

    It is glaringly obvious that carbon "logic" is a major emerging instrument of global control and fortified exploitation that, like US dollar standing in the purchase of strategic resources, will be backed with military might. Yet, "deniers", including dedicated top scientists, are targeted as pure evil, being paid by destructive interests.

    The holy apparatus of "peer review" is advanced as a truth detection instrument, where it is objectively known to be an establishment opinion imposition structure, which was rejected as such by none other than Albert Einstein, and which did not exist when science made virtually all of its greatest advances.

    The climate models are opaque and not testable, and when the "predictions" from these models fail dramatically, multiple clouds of spin erupt from both the modellers and those who generated the "measurements". Most historic climatologists are intimidated into sheepish silence. Government scientists mostly tow the line. Official politically contrived reports (IPCC, etc.) fall over themselves to declare a CO2 crisis, year after year.

    By contrast, simple and rigorous physics calculations conclusively show that other factors are orders of magnitude more important than CO2 in determining mean global surface temperature. The "other factors" (land use, water management) are made subservient to the CO2 gospel. 

    I mean, it should be thoroughly embarrassing to all professional climate scientists. How can they be so silent?

    And there are armies of opportunists. The ecologists cite imperceptible global warming rather than denounce direct habitat destruction, which would put them into harsh conflict with immediate "economic interests". Green energy and environmental remediation (carbon storage, etc.) charlatans are only too happy to accept funding for bogus and unsustainable technologies. And on and on.

    When global finance has a project that aligns with global geopolitical interests, present First World civil society and all professional employees are, in turn, easily aligned. At least for now, dissidents will continue to be mobbed by hoards of zombies.


    Dr. Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured and Full Professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is known for his applications of physics education research (TVO Interview). He practiced various areas of science (environmental geochemistry, soil science, spectroscopy, condensed matter physics, materials science) which were funded by a national agency, has published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals, and has written several social commentary essays. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. His articles and views about climate science include: LINK.