“Lying-in expenses”

While a white-hot debate over abortion engulfs the United States and threatens to spill over into Canada, this Washington Post column by law professor Carliss Chatman purports to take the anti-abortion position to its logical conclusion:

…When a state grants full personhood to a fetus, should they not apply equally?

For example, should child support start at conception? Every state permits the custodial parent — who has primary physical custody of the child and is primarily responsible for his or her day-to-day care — to receive child support from the noncustodial parent. Since a fetus resides in its mother, and receives all nutrition and care from its mother’s body, the mother should be eligible for child support as soon as the fetus is declared a person — at conception in Alabama, at six weeks in states that declare personhood at a fetal heartbeat, at eight weeks in Missouri, which was on the way to passing its law on Friday, but at birth in states that have not banned abortion.

Interestingly, the Parenting and Support Act in Nova Scotia does allow for child support once a child has been conceived – sort of.

Section 11(1)(a) allows an expectant mother to apply for a contribution toward “lying-in expenses” even before the child is born. The Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia defines such expenses as follows:

…These expenses are meant to contribute to the reasonable costs that a woman has while pregnant to carry the baby and prepare for the birth of the baby. These costs usually include things like maternity vitamins, maternity clothes and baby-related items, like a crib, stroller, or car seat. They can also include maintenance of the mother during the pregnancy and expenses related to the birth of the child.

An unmarried woman may ask to have lying-in expenses paid as part of a child support application to the court. A judge can order the mother or the possible father, or both of them, to pay certain amounts toward these expenses. The costs have to be proven (for example, by giving receipts or confirmation of costs) and they have to be reasonable and necessary.

Applications for lying-in expenses can be made during the pregnancy, or after the birth of the child. Often, the application is made after the child is born, and combined with the application for child support , to make things easier (making one application instead of two).

If the application is made before the child is born, the applicant mother must provide confirmation that she is in fact pregnant:

In practice, lying-in expenses are rarely sought. The most recent Nova Scotia decision on the CanLII case-law database in which they were awarded is from 2010. The issue came up in a 2017 case, but they weren’t ordered, at least in part because of the applicant’s tardiness in raising the issue.

In twenty years of practicing family law, I’ve only worked on a handful of cases where lying-in expenses are an issue, and never one where the application was commenced before the birth of the child. But the option is there.

Unsolved Nova Scotia: Kevin Martin

Forever young.

Imagine losing your young son in a devastating fire. And then your other son disappearing, seemingly without a trace, until his body is found in a shallow grave.

And you think you know who took the life of your little boy, but no one has ever been brought to justice.

That’s the unspeakable horror that befell Bonnie Thomas, now a resident of Prince Edward Island, when she lived in Pictou County. This is one of the most heartbreaking mysteries I’ve ever heard about:

Kevin was 13 the day in May he had run away from his house on MacKay Street in Stellarton. It wasn’t the first time he had left home without permission and his family had no reason to believe it would be his last. According to retired Stellarton police officer Hugh Muir, who became involved in the case early, Martin had fallen in with a bad crowd about six months to a year before this day. Muir was familiar with Kevin because he had gone to school with Muir’s older boys, and remembers him as a nice, polite kid.

Thomas recalls how Kevin had been bullied at school and craved acceptance. He wanted to be part of the cool kids and so when they skipped school, he did too.

“He was a great kid. He just got in with the wrong group of kids,” Thomas said. “He was a follower.”

A few years earlier Kevin had also lost his older brother Olin in a house fire. They had only been 10-months apart in age and shared a room. The fire was determined to be have been caused accidentally, but had a lasting effect on Kevin.

“I don’t think Kevin ever got over losing Olin,” says their mother.

[…]

Then came a degree of closure they had hoped not to find. Commercial loggers working in the Burnside area of Colchester County – near Upper Stewiacke – discovered Kevin’s remains buried in a shallow grave. While police have never released how they believe the teen died, physical evidence found at the scene was enough to determine his death was a homicide. They believe he was killed shortly after he disappeared in 1994.

While he’s no longer involved in the investigation, Muir personally thinks there had to be more than one person involved, particularly to dispose of the body. He believes the people responsible also likely had a familiarity with the area where Kevin’s body was found. He is sure there are people still alive with information that could solve the case and prays they think of a 13-year-old being brutally murdered and of a family still suffering without answers.

“He would have been possibly married and a father of his own now,” Muir said.

Thomas is confident she knows who the guilty people are. Based on information she said someone gave her and that was passed on to police, she believes there were three people directly involved. 

The News spoke with that person who gave Thomas and police the tip. Her first name is Debbie, but she requested her last name not be used. Debbie says her information came from a relative who says she knows the people responsible, where it happened and how. Debbie said she’s shared what she knows with police, but to date no arrests have been made.

Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers has posted a reward of up to $150,000.00 for information that leads to the killer’s arrest and conviction. In an era where many long-dormant cold cases are finally being solved, thanks to technological advances and determined investigators, hopefully justice for Kevin will be done.

Capitulation at Harvard

Intersectionality or the rule of law. Pick one.

Harvard Law professor Randall Kennedy, in the New York Times, on the treatment of his colleague Ronald Sullivan:

I have been a professor at Harvard University for 34 years. In that time, the school has made some mistakes. But it has never so thoroughly embarrassed itself as it did this past weekend. At the center of the controversy is Ronald Sullivan, a law professor who ran afoul of student activists enraged that he was willing to represent Harvey Weinstein.

[…]

…On Saturday, Dean Khurana announced that Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Robinson would no longer be deans of the college, citing their “ineffective” efforts to improve “the climate” at Winthrop.

Although Dean Khurana declared that his decision was “informed by a number of considerations,” he said nothing in his announcement about the issue that lay at the heart of the controversy: the claim that Mr. Sullivan’s representation of Mr. Weinstein was in and of itself inconsistent with his role as a faculty dean. No wonder the students who campaigned for his dismissal on that basis celebrated the administration’s action.

Harvard College appears to have ratified the proposition that it is inappropriate for a faculty dean to defend a person reviled by a substantial number of students — a position that would disqualify a long list of stalwart defenders of civil liberties and civil rights, including Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall.

Student opposition to Mr. Sullivan has hinged on the idea of safety — that they would not feel safe confiding in Mr. Sullivan about matters having to do with sexual harassment or assault given his willingness to serve as a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein. Let’s assume the good faith of such declarations (though some are likely mere parroting). Even still, they should not be accepted simply because they represent sincere beliefs or feelings.

Suppose atheist students claimed that they did not feel “safe” confiding in a faculty dean who was an outspoken Christian or if conservative students claimed that they did not feel “safe” confiding in a faculty dean who was a prominent leftist. One would hope that university officials would say more than that they “take seriously” the concerns raised and fears expressed. One would hope that they would say that Harvard University defends — broadly — the right of people to express themselves aesthetically, ideologically, intellectually and professionally. One would hope that they would say that the acceptability of a faculty dean must rest upon the way in which he meets his duties, not on his personal beliefs or professional associations. One would hope, in short, that Harvard would seek to educate its students and not simply defer to vague apprehensions or pander to the imperatives of misguided rage.

Now, of course, Harvard authorities are dredging up various supposed delinquencies on Mr. Sullivan’s part. An exposé in The Harvard Crimson refers to allegations that he and his wife were highhanded in their dealings with the staff at Winthrop House. No one is perfect; perhaps there is something to these claims.

But these dissatisfactions, if relevant at all, were not what provoked the student protests that led to Mr. Sullivan’s ouster. The central force animating the drama has been student anger at anyone daring to breach the wall of ostracism surrounding Mr. Weinstein, even for the limited purpose of extending him legal representation. They want to make him, a person still clothed with the presumption of innocence, more of an untouchable before trial than those who have been convicted of a crime. There was no publicized protest at Winthrop House when Mr. Sullivan successfully represented a convicted murderer, Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star, who was acquitted of a separate double murder before killing himself in prison.

Harvard officials are certainly capable of withstanding student pressure. This time, though, they don’t want to. …

Some perspective: the most significant threat to the rule of law in America comes from the would-be authoritarian in the White House. But the Sullivan witch-hunt is just the latest example of how the rule of law is being assaulted from the other side.

Flashback: law students at the City University of New York screaming “Fuck the Law!” at a visiting professor they didn’t agree with.

Everything we knew about Trump is still true

Robert Mueller may have confirmed that the President of the United States didn’t knowingly collude with Russia, and Team #MAGA is taking its victory lap.

Retweeting himself is the least objectionable thing about him.

The report is agnostic on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, and several members of his circle are already or will soon be behind bars. (As noted by CNN Legal Anlyst Elie Honig, imagine if Mueller had waited until he completed his report before announcing all 34 indictments, including the likes of Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Michael Cohen, at once.)

In any event, even if Trump isn’t guilty of collusion, it certainly doesn’t make him a good President or even a decent human being.

Some perspective from Rachel Larimore at The Bulwark:

…at the end of the day Donald Trump is a bad man. A bad, orange man. And  a bad president. Vanna, show them what they’ve won!

Trump is still the same guy who:

Told Billy Bush that “I moved on her like a bitch” in reference to a married woman. And that his M.O. is to “grab ’em by the pussy.”

Insulted John McCain for being captured while serving in Vietnam.

Insulted a Gold Star family whose son died in Iraq.

Said Mexico was going to build America a wall.

Accused an American judge of dual loyalties.

Refused to divest from his businesses after he was elected president.

Does not appear to understand trade deficits.

Complained about immigrants from “shithole” countries.

Said terrible things about female journalists.

Said terrible things about male journalists.

Failed to swiftly and simply condemn violence by neo-Nazi and white nationalist protesters during the Charlottesville protest.

Said he had a “great relationship” with Rodrigo Duterte, the Phillipines president who has bragged about personally killing people during his war on drugs.

Retweeted an extremist British nationalist’s anti-Muslim videos.

That’s not even half the list. And the complete list doesn’t even mention he’s a vaccine troofer on top of everything else.

In any event, that victory lap might be premature, according to Henry Olsen:

This evidence could have a quite different effect on public opinion than it would in a legal proceeding. Criminal prosecutions require proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” and Mueller clearly saw a strong case against Trump under that standard. While Barr decided he did not, reasonable observers could conclude differently. They could also conclude, perhaps, that they have reasonable doubts but think Trump did obstruct justice under the more lenient “clear and convincing evidence” or “preponderance of the evidence” standards. Prosecutors would not look at a criminal case through those lenses, but politicians and pundits are sure to do so.

Barr’s section labeled “Obstruction of Justice” is essential here. Every sentence is extremely precise and carefully worded. The matter of the president’s intent is key, as a prosecutor would have to prove that such a crime was committed with “a corrupt intent.” Barr writes that the special counsel’s finding that the president was not involved in an underlying crime bore “upon the President’s intent” regarding obstruction. In plain English, that suggests there is evidence that people could conclude constitutes criminal obstruction, but that Trump’s saving grace in the law is that he also could not be proven to have colluded with the Russians. Political observers could disagree.

[…]

Barr’s subsequent release is highly likely to contain much more detail, much of it at least unflattering to the president, than most pundits surmise. With respect to the issues of Russian collusion and obstruction, we have clearly reached the end of the beginning. We are nowhere near the beginning of the end.

The more Trump crows about how the Mueller report proves his innocence, the harder it will be for him to avoid releasing it. Though if anyone is shameless enough to try, it’s him.

Smearing Justice Joyal

They told me if I voted for the Conservatives we’d have blatantly partisan interference in the judicial system, and they were right!

The Trudeau government’s latest excuse for LavScam: Jody Wilson-Raybould was a social conservative deep-cover operative trying to appoint an extreme right-winger to the Supreme Court of Canada. Or something like that.

Relations between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould first began to fray in 2017 over concerns about her choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court of Canada.

A year before cabinet discussions about a plea deal for Quebec engineering company SNC-Lavalin, Trudeau and Wilson-Raybould disagreed about her recommendation of Manitoba Justice Glenn D. Joyal, sources familiar with the matter tell CTV News.

Trudeau was concerned that Joyal wasn’t committed to protecting rights that have flown out of interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, particularly LGBTQ2 rights and even abortion access, neither of which are specifically enshrined in the Charter.

[…]

The Prime Minister’s Office was concerned about views Joyal expressed in a speech to the Canadian Constitution Foundation’s Law and Freedom Conference in the January 2017, in which he discussed about the way courts were interpreting the Charter, ushered in by Trudeau’s father.

“It may be one of the bitter ironies of Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s Nation Building strategy of the 1980s, that despite the celebration and promotion of the Charter, it has led to an institutional imbalance that dilutes a source of Canadian distinctiveness,” he said in the speech.

Joyal argued for a rebalancing the relationship between the courts and legislative branch.

“I would hope and have every reason to believe, that this would signal the beginning of a true dialogue with the courts, where the resulting policies would, I suspect, reflect a traditionally pragmatic and uniquely Canadian mix of liberal and non-liberal values.”

His speech raised concerns that Joyal, if appointed, would be less willing to protect rights that are based on a broader interpretation of the Charter.

This is truly baffling, since I’ve been assured that unlike those nasty Americans, Supreme Court Justices in Canada are appointed strictly based on merit and not because of how the Prime Minister thinks they might decide hot-button issues.

Joyal, for his part, says he withdrew his name from consideration because of his wife’s breast cancer:

In a statement Monday, Joyal made no mention of Wilson-Raybould, but said that although he applied for the position of Supreme Court justice, he had to withdraw for personal reasons related to his wife’s health.

“In 2016, the Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs announced an independent and non-partisan application process for appointments to our highest court. The confidential process assesses each candidate on their merits,” Joyal told Global News in an emailed statement.

“Ultimately, I had to withdraw my application for personal reasons, due to my wife’s metastatic breast cancer. Regrettably, that detail was omitted from the now-published media reports for which I was given no opportunity or, in one case, approximately one hour to respond to.

“I fear that someone is using my previous candidacy to the Supreme Court of Canada to further an agenda unrelated to the appointment process. This is wrong,” Joyal continued.

Ever since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms took effect in 1982, judges, lawyers and academics have wrangled with the question of how the powers of the judiciary and the legislature should be balanced. That’s what Joyal was talking about. And intellectually honest people know raising these points doesn’t make you a bigot.

Which is precisely why Sheila Copps says Joyal is a bigot (and a “homophone”):

As long as Copps is around, Frank D’Angelo will not be the most embarrassing person ever to come from Hamilton.

Mueller is done, but the political wrangling has just started

In this video from the Washington Post, reporter Matt Zapotosky explains what happens with special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia:

It could be a while before we see everything in the report. With Mueller recommending no new indictments it certainly appears he couldn’t definitely prove collusion, but I think the Trump supporters on Twitter are taking their victory laps way too early. 34 people, including several of Trump’s famously sleazy colleagues and collarborators, have already been indicted. I suspect the final report will include a lot of damning information about the President.

And even if Mueller completely clears Trump, other investigations are still ongoing:

Trump may face significant peril from federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to legal experts. His former personal lawyer Michael Cohen said in Feb. 27 congressional testimony that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is examining Trump’s business practices and financial dealings. Cohen already has implicated Trump in campaign finance law violations to which he pleaded guilty in August 2018 as part of the Southern District investigation.

Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance laws by arranging, at Trump’s direction, “hush money” payments shortly before the 2016 presidential election to porn film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal to prevent damage to Trump’s candidacy. Both women said they had sexual relationships with Trump more than a decade ago. He has denied that.

Prosecutors said the payments constituted illegal campaign contributions intended to influence the election. Under federal election laws, such donations cannot exceed $2,700 and need to be publicly disclosed. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, received $130,000. McDougal received $150,000.

[…]

A defamation lawsuit against Trump by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality television show “The Apprentice,” continues in New York state court after a judge in 2018 allowed it to proceed. Zervos sued Trump after he called her and other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct liars and retweeted a post labeling her claims a hoax.

Trump has agreed to provide written answers to questions from Zervos by Sept. 28, according to a court filing.

Zervos accused Trump of kissing her against her will at his New York office in 2007 and later groping her at a meeting at a hotel in California. More than a dozen women have accused Trump of making unwanted sexual advances against them years before he entered politics.

[…]

A lawsuit filed by the New York state Attorney General’s Office has already led the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which was presented as the charitable arm of Trump’s business empire, to agree in December 2018 to dissolve, and the litigation continues.

The state is seeking an order banning Trump and his three eldest children from leadership roles in any other New York charity. Trump has said the lawsuit was concocted by “sleazy New York Democrats.” The state’s Democratic attorney general accused the foundation of being “engaged in a “shocking pattern of illegality” and “functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests” in violation of federal law.

[…]

Trump is accused in a lawsuit filed by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia of violating anti-corruption provisions of the U.S. Constitution through his businesses’ dealings with foreign governments.

[…]

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating whether the committee that organized Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 accepted illegal donations from foreigners, misused funds or brokered special access to the administration for donors.

Trump likes to gloat about how well the economy has been doing, and you can’t deny that the Trump era has been a time of unprecedented prosperity – for lawyers.

The silence of Jody Wilson-Raybould

I’ve seen Liberal Facebook friends trying to downplay the brewing SNC-Lavalin scandal by noting that former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould hasn’t come out and said that the Prime Minister’s Office tried to interfere in its criminal prosecution.

They’re technically correct, because Ms. Wilson-Raybould is not allowed to say anything about it until the Prime Minister lets her do so:

Until Justin Trudeau waives solicitor-client privilege, we’re left to speculate about whether Wilson-Raybould was forced out because she couldn’t speak French, or because of Scott Brison’s resignation, or because the Patriots won another Super Bowl. ‘Tis a mystery for the ages

For those keeping score at home, during the comparatively quaint Mike Duffy expenses scandal, then-Prime Minster/history’s greatest fascist monster Stephen Harper instructed his lawyer to waive solicitor-client privilege protecting his PMO documents from the RCMP.

“Crippled” by bureaucracy

When President Orcasio-Cortez takes office, they’ll let it in but make him change that title.

The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is to protect the United States from threats to its safety and security, such as (checks notes) a play about a disabled man living in rural Newfoundland:

An award-winning local play has been denied entry into the the United States on the grounds it is not “culturally unique.”

The play Crippled has received rave reviews, being named the Overcast’s “Best Thing to Happen in 2018” and awarded Best Production at the 2017 Fundy Fringe Fest.

But a two-year attempt to take the show to San Francisco has been denied by Homeland Security on the grounds that the show is not culturally unique.

St. John’s playwright Paul Power who wrote and performs in the play says they had a number of letters from nationally recognized artists and experts, but this does not seem to have been enough.

Power says the play is an autobiographical piece about a man living with a disability coping with the death of his partner, which makes it personal and a unique expression on stage, but apparently US Border Security disagrees.

The decision can be appealed, but San Francisco’s EXIT Theater has decided to pull the plug:

…the denial letter Augello received from USCIS reads, “The contract, electric correspondences and itinerary you provided is insufficient because it did not provide any details to demonstrate that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events.”

“For them to be in charge of saying Paul can’t bring his show there—they don’t have their expertise,” Augello says. “These [artists] are able to come here [as tourists]. They’re not a threat to our safety.”

The denial letter Augello received from USCIS stipulates that EXIT Theatre has a month to appeal the decision, but Augello says the opportunity has already passed to produce Crippled this season. She says that current policy for allowing international artists to perform in the United States is too restrictive for independent artists like the ones she works with.

There’s nothing “culturally unique” about Justin Beiber, either, but he’s allowed to perform in the United States all he wants.

(Come to think of it, maybe that’s why they’re trying to keep more Canadian performers out.)

Canada has its own rules about foreign entertainers trying to enter the country, but EXIT Theater’s founder says they aren’t applied nearly as strictly:

“We have a difficult time getting indie performers in the country,” she says. “But as an indie performer myself, all I need to go to Canada is an invitation letter—and there are some restrictions, financial, et cetera—but it’s very simple to go to Canada and work the fringe circuit.”

The United States has a particularly ignorant xenophobe in the White House right now, but there’s nothing new about the labyrinthine rules to be followed if you want to enter the country legally. If Trump wonders why so many people try to enter illegally, he could start by reading his own country’s immigration laws. Or have someone read them to him.

Social media’s weekend of glory

I’ve quit and rejoined Twitter several times over the past year, but this is the exchange that finally broke me:

He didn’t write Unforgiven.

Michael Green is a grown man who wrote Blade Runner 2049, Logan and Alien: Covenant. Nick Sandmann, whose life he wants to destroy forever, and whom he would rather hate than see him repent for his alleged sins, is a high school student.

A high school student who, aside from wearing that stupid hat, really didn’t freaking do anything wrong.

Far from engaging in racially motivated harassment, the group of mostly white, MAGA-hat-wearing male teenagers remained relatively calm and restrained despite being subjected to incessant racist, homophobic, and bigoted verbal abuse by members of the bizarre religious sect Black Hebrew Israelites, who were lurking nearby. The BHI has existed since the late 19th century, and is best describes as a black nationalist cult movement; its members believe they are descendants of the ancient Israelites, and often express condemnation of white people, Christians, and gays. DC-area Black Hebrews are known to spout particularly vile bigotry.

Phillips put himself between the teens and the black nationalists, chanting and drumming as he marched straight into the middle of the group of young people. What followed was several minutes of confusion: The teens couldn’t quite decide whether Phillips was on their side or not, but tentatively joined in his chanting. It’s not at all clear this was intended as an act of mockery rather than solidarity.

One student did not get out of Phillips way as he marched, and gave the man a hard stare and a smile that many have described as creepy. This moment received the most media coverage: The teen has been called the product of a “hate factory” and likened to a school shooter, segregation-era racist, and member of the Ku Klux Klan. I have no idea what he was thinking, but portraying this as an example of obvious, racially-motivated hate is a stretch. Maybe he simply had no idea why this man was drumming in his face, and couldn’t quite figure out the best response? It bears repeating that Phillips approached him, not the other way around.

And that’s all there is to it. Phillips walked away after several minutes, the Black Hebrew Israelites continued to insult the crowd, and nothing else happened.

Here’s a close-up video of the encounter that went viral on social media this past weekend. Indiginous protestor Nathan Phillips, drum in hand, goes toward the throng of students, many of whom start chanting along with him. When he stands directly in front of Sandmann and starts drumming and singing in his face, you can hear someone say “I’m so confused.”

Some of the kids make “tomahawk chop” motions and act obnoxiously, but Sandmann literally doesn’t do anything. From the video he looks like he doesn’t really know what to do.

Sandmann is frankly the least disrespectful person there, but he’s the one who’s been designated the face of hatred in Donald Trump’s America and doxxed accordingly. (Well, him and another kid who wasn’t even there. Great job, internet!)

As of this writing, a lot of important people, and also Kathy Griffin, are still itching for a fight. This tweet, from a self-professed journalist, illustrates the mob mentality so perfectly it could have been scripted:

Yeah, what kind of asshole jumps to conclusions without reading the whole thing?

“I refuse to read it” should be Twitter’s new motto. Actually, “smoking crater where a social media platform once stood” should be Twitter’s new motto.

As for Michael Green, it’s not just that he rushed to judgment and sicced his followers on a teenager, but that he wants to stay angry at him. He’s asked point-blank if he wants the kid to repent and become a member of a more harmonious society, and his answer is a definitive “no.” The anger is precisely the point. It’s the 93 octane fuel on which Twitter runs.

Hopefully, Sandmann will grow up and make amends for wearing the hat associated with the worst President of our lifetimes. And hopefully Green will grow up and make amends for writing Green Lantern.