De-stress Corner at the Law Library

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If you already feel stressed about all the amount of reading that you have to do or anticipate with trepidation getting your assignments graded on a curve, the law library now offers you some options that could help you relax and take your thought away from your troubles (at least for a little while). Come to our “De-stress Station” on the ground floor, right next to the Reference Collection, play a game of chess, colour some books, or make a puzzle, and feel better!

 

New Exhibition: Remembering the Nuremberg Trials: 70 Years Later

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New exhibition at the Law Library is commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the International Military Tribunal, the most known and the most important of the Nuremberg Trials. The exhibition, curated by Sonia Smith and Svetlana Kochkina, features print materials, books, reproductions of archival documents, and visual materials illustrating Nazi crimes during the Second World War in Europe and the International Military Tribunal itself. We also have a selection of books on the subject that can be borrowed by our users (on the book truck next to the exhibition cases).

About the Nuremberg Trials:

The Nuremberg Trials were a series of 13 trials of accused World War II German war criminals held from 1945 to 1949 in Nuremberg, Germany. The first trial, the International Military Tribunal (IMT), held at the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, was prosecuted by the four Allied powers (Great Britain, France, United States, and USSR) against the top leadership of the Nazi regime in 1945-1946.

The defendants, among them Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Julius Streicher and Fritz Sauckel, were charged under three categories of crimes:

  • Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurance.
  • War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war.
  • Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhuman acts committed against any civil population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds.

In the other twelve trials held by the United States in the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT) from 1946 to 1949, a variety of Nazi governmental, military, industrial, and professional leaders were prosecuted.

NYT page 1 Evening TelegraphThe post-World War II trials of German and Japanese war criminals were established to create a standard of conduct acceptable in time of war, to try cases of atrocities against humanity, and, most importantly, to document those atrocities so that a permanent historical record would be created. The American legal presence compiled a formal record of the trials consisting of captured German government records, evidentiary material, interrogations, correspondence, memoranda, briefs, and transcripts of the trials. Those involved considered it of paramount importance to preserve this documentation of the trials and of the purposes for which they were held.

The Nuremberg Trial was an early experiment in simultaneous translation. The Charter of the International Military Tribunal stated that the defendants had the right to a fair trial, and that all proceedings be translated into a language that the defendants understood. Because of the trial’s complexities, the subject matter, and the different languages spoken by the defense, prosecution, and the judges, it was decided that using a simultaneous translation system would work best.

The Second World War in Numbers:

The Second World War was the deadliest conflict in human history marked not only by the number of combat only but also by mass deaths of civilians, systematic extermination of people deemed “racially inferior”, death camps, killing of prisoners of war (POWs) on a massive scale, and use slave labor perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its allies and collaborators.

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of 6 million Jews. Nazi authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived “racial inferiority”: Roma, the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others), or on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and homosexuals.

In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. By 1945, the Nazi and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the “Final Solution,” totaling the number of death to more than 6 million men, women and children. Other victims of Nazi racial policy include some 200,000 Roma. At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the Euthanasia Program. Close to 3 million Soviet POWs targeted as Slavic “sub-humans” were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment. The Nazi forced into slave labor more than 7 million people from almost twenty European countries. Many workers died as a result of their living conditions with mistreatment, malnutrition, and torture being the main causes of death.

Even though an exact number of casualties and victims is still unknown, the total is assessed between 40 and 50 million deaths with almost half of them civilians.  The European countries that suffered the biggest losses were: Poland that lost close to 15% of its population (about 5.8 million deaths (including 300 000 military only), the USSR with about 20 – 18 million deaths (including 7 million civilians) that makes 10% of its population, and Yugoslavia, with 1.5 million deaths (75% of them civilian) or close to 8% of the population.

Germany and Austria combined lost 4.4 million soldiers (with 3.5 million on the Eastern front) and close to 500 000 civilians.

From: Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopédie Larouss, Harvard Law School Library. Nuremberg Trials Project: A Digital Document Collection, and Holocaust Encyclopedia of the USHMM

 

Do not forget to note up your cases!

This admonition has been heard by countless law-students while they were initiated into the intricacies of legal research. But what is “to note up”? – a bewildered first-year law student may ask.

To note up is to look up the case’s history and to find if it was judicially considered in other cases. In the pre-internet time, law clerks and law librarians used to write the subsequent history of the cases on the margins of case reporters; thus, “noting up” the pages with references to the subsequent decisions. This is an example of an old noted up reporter from the Sir James Dunn Law Library (Halifax, NS). note up

We can trace back references to the practice of “noting up” to at least the 19th century, when The Law Times provided practitioners with “Notes for Noting Up,” and when proposals for legal textbooks included binding in a number of blank leaves specifically for noting up so that the textbooks could contain the latest law: “A member has suggested that the first text-book of the Society should be one which shall comprise the entire Practice of Law [….] It is further proposed that the volumes should be bound with blank leaves for noting up, and that in any digest of the Society a figure should refer to the page in the text-book in which the case or statute digested ought to be noted, so that the volumes should always keep pace with the existing law until a new edition is rendered necessary by the number of references” (Verulam Society, (1844) 3 The Law Times 275).

This post is derived from a discussion at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries listserv. Many thanks in particular to Lynne McNeill, Nikki Tanner, and Katie Albright for sharing their knowledge and to Natalie Wing to summarising the information for the benefit of CALL memebrs and for her kind permission to use it.

New Book Exhibit: Le droit en images: Faire rire, découvrir et apprendre

correct law and art posterImages and law – the first association between these two words that probably springs into your mind is the copyright law or cultural property law. However, the connection between law and visual art is more complex and manifold: hand-drawn sketches are still used to illustrate trials unraveling in courtrooms; lawyers are one of the most favourite and rather easy targets for the cartoonist around the globe; while legal books, law firms, and law libraries are filled with the stern looking portraits of be-wigged and be-robed judges and barristers…

The upcoming exhibit illustrates yet another facet of the relationship between law and an image: the use of visuals in legal books to illustrate, explain, and discuss law and legal concepts. This tradition dates back to the early days of legal literature, with the lavishly illuminated manuscript of Sachsenspiegel being one of the most known examples. To help you dispel the winter blues and the gloom of your impending mid-terms, the exhibition Le droit en images mostly showcases the books that use the imagery to explain and talk about law in a rather light-hearted and humorous way.

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Quid Novi Archives are Online!

This summer, the McGill library has been hard at work digitising historic McGill student newspapers. Now the project is completed, and the digital versions are accessible online at the Internet Archive. This extensive digital collection currently includes over 10,000 issues from various McGill student publications including The Fortnightly, The McGill Outlook, Le Délit, The McGill Daily, Quid Novi, The Dram and the Failt-Ye Times.  As you can see, our beloved Quid was also part of this massive effort. You can access the full archives of Quid Novi 656 issues here:

Good reading to everybody!

New Exhibition: “Justice, justice shall you pursue”: Jewish Law from Biblical Times to the Present”

Arthur Szyk PosterJewish Law has a history of more than three thousand years. This extended time, can be divided in two main periods: The first broad period begins with the written Torah and ends with the completion of the Talmud. The second broad period is the post-Talmudic period, from the completion of the Talmud until our own day (Elon, Menachem. Jewish law: history, sources, principles).

The Hebrew word “halakhah” is usually translated as “Jewish Law”, although a more literal translation might be “the path that one walks”. The word is derived from the Hebrew root Heh-Lamed-Kaf, meaning to go, to walk, or to travel (Encyclopaedia Judaica).

The principles and rules of Jewish Law are based on the Bible. While some rules are mentioned quite explicitly, others are only implied. All are elucidated in the teachings of the Tanna’im and Amora’im – the Rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud – and presented systematically in the codes. Thus, over the generations, a comprehensive legal system has developed.

Jewish tradition compares Jewish law to a living tree. As the Torah, the sacred scroll of the Five Books of Moses, is returned to the ark after being read in synagogue services, the liturgy quotes from the biblical book of Proverbs (4:2, 3: 18, 17): I give you good instruction; never forsake My Torah. It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and those who uphold it are happy. Its ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace. (A Living Tree. Roots and Growth of Jewish Law)

JEWISH LAW EXHIBITION title2The books for this exhibition come from the holdings of the Rare Books and Special Collections, the Nahum Gelber Law Library Special Collections, and the Humanities and Social Science Library.

Among the books presented we find a volume of the Ḥamishah ḥumshe Torah: ketav yad Temani. This is a facsimile edition of 390 copies of a manuscript of the Pentateuch, in accordance with the Yemenite tradition, with the Targum, Tafsir of Saʼadya Gaon and the Collecteana of R. Yaḥya Siani.

A miniature Shulchan Aruch, printed in Venice, in 1574. The Shulchan Aruch, or “Set Table” is a codification of Jewish law composed by Rabbi Joseph Karo in the 16th century. Together with its commentaries, it is considered the most authoritative compilation of halakha since the Talmud.

The book Sefer ha-hinukh: yavo’u vo ha-613 mitsvot, yesod Torat Moshe u-nevuato, was also printed in Venice in the Jewish year 361 [1600 or 1601]. This is an anonymous work on the 613 precepts in the order of their appearance in Scripture, giving their reasons and their laws in detail. The book is mainly based on the Sefer ha-Mitzvot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.

IMG_4131One of the centerpieces is The Codex Maimuni: Moses Maimonides’ Code of law: the illuminated pages of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah. This book, published in 1984 reprints sixty-eight of the most beautiful pages from the illuminated codex of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah, one of the most outstanding surviving exemplars of mediaeval Hebrew book production.

A surviving example of Das talmudische Recht : auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung mit dem römischen verglichen und systematisch dargestellt. Sachenrecht by S. Rubin (Wien: Druckerei-und Verlags-A.-G. Ig. Steinmann. 1938). This copy was printed in Viena, in 1938. According to a review written by W. R. Taylor, the author has planned a study of Talmudic law to be embraced in three volumes. The purpose of the project, according to Taylor, was to bring the Talmudic legislation into a scientific arrangement in harmony with modern methods and to institute a comparison of the Talmudic material with the relative parts of Roman law. At the end of each chapter there are extensive notes inclusive of references, citations, and expositions of maxims from the Talmud and the later codes of Maimonides, Asher, and Karo, and from Roman law.

Ioannis Seldeni, De synedriis & praefecturis juridicis veterum Ebraeorum. Londini: Typis Jacobi Flesher: Prostant apud Cornelium Bee …, 1650-1655. John Selden, 1584-1654, was an English jurist and a scholar of England’s ancient laws and constitution and a scholar of Jewish law. In 1650 Selden began to print the trilogy he planned on the Sanhedrin, the assembly of sages that constituted the highest political magistracy of the country.

IMG_4154 IMG_4157This exhibition was planned and organized by Sonia Smith and Svetlana Kochkina, librarians at the Nahum Gelber law Library.

New Exhibit: Annie MacDonald Langstaff

annie_langstaffAnnie Langstaff, née MacDonald, a legal author, feminist, and aviatrix, was the first woman graduate in law in Québec (first-class honours, 1914), who became known because of her litigation against the Québec Bar, where she was denied access to its qualifying exams. To honour her memory the Law Library opens an exhibition featuring a selection of archival materials, including her original diploma, photographs, and grades’ transcripts.

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She was born in 1887 in Alexandria, Glengarry County, Ontario. She came to Montreal, after receiving her Senior Matriculation from the Prescott (Ontario) High School, and worked as a stenographer for Samuel W. Jacobs, K.C., head of the firm Jacobs, Hall, Couture and Fitch, a well-respected lawyer and advocate of Jewish Rights.

IMG_3262 IMG_3261In October 1911, with the encouragement of Mr. Jacobs, she entered the McGill Faculty of Law. She received her B.C.L. in May 1915, graduating with First Class Honours and a prize of $25.00. She ranked fourth in her class of eighteen and led her second year class in Company Law and her third year class in Criminal Law. After Convocation she applied to take the Quebec preliminary Bar examination. This examination was normally taken, by those wishing to study law, three years before presenting themselves for admission to practice and as a preliminary to the university program in law. Mrs. Langstaff, anticipating difficulty in being admitted, chose to complete her law program first, and then to apply for the preliminary examination.

Her application was refused by the Bar and, with Mr. Jacobs as her counsellor, she petitioned the Superior Court for a writ of mandamus summoning the Quebec Bar to show cause why it should not be ordered to grant the application since Mrs. Langstaff met all the statutory qualifications for sitting the examination. At the hearing, Mrs. Langstaff assisted in the presentation of her case. Her petition was dismissed with costs by Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre. (Dame Langstaff v. The Bar of the Province of Quebec (1915) 47 C.S. 131.).

Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre noted that Mrs. Langstaff was “a young woman of good morals and possessed of considerable ability” (p. 145), but his Lordship held that “to admit a woman and more particularly a married woman as a barrister as a person who pleads cases at the bar before judges or juries in open court and in the presence of the public, would be nothing short of a direct infringement upon public order and a manifest violation the law of good morals and public decency” (p. 39). The opinion of Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre caused a public outcry. It was the subject of a number of newspaper headlines and articles. Mrs. Langstaff’s supporters, led by Professor Carrie Derick of McGill, and the members of the Local Council of Women, organized a mass protest against his remarks and decision.

Mrs. Langstaff, still represented by Mr. Jacobs, appealed to the Court of King’s Bench. A hearing was held on 16 September 1915 and arguments were closely covered in the local press. On 2nd November, the Court in a four to one decision (Mr. Justice Lavergne dissenting), affirmed Mr. Justice Saint-Pierre’s decision (Dame Langstaff (Annie Macdonald) v. The Bar of the Province of Quebec (1916) 25 B.R. 11.). Although that was the end of her personal legal battle, she continued to fight by supporting various bills introduced to change Quebec law so as to allow women to practise law. IMG_3265But she was never allowed to write the examination and by the time the law was finally changed, in 1942, a Bachelor of Arts degree had become a prerequisite. Mrs. Langstaff was not prepared at the time in her life to return to formal university studies. Mrs. Langstaff continued her work for the law firm (which she described as “a little secretarial work, a little bookkeeping, and a little law”, McGill Reporter, 11 February 1976).

She was the first woman stenographer employed in a Montreal Criminal Court (Court of Special Sessions, June 1914). She became a successful aviatrix and, on the occasion of Marshall Foch’s visit to Montreal, circled above the city for an hour to the delight of thousands of spectators. She was the author of several articles on family law published in popular women’s journals and of an English-French French-English Quebec Legal Dictionary (1937). She retired from the firm, now known as Phillips and Vineberg, in 1965 at the age of 78. She died on 29 June 1975 at the age of 88.

On September 7, 2006 The Montréal Bar bestowed on Mrs. Annie MacDonald Langstaff a posthumous honour by giving her the Medaille du Barreau de Montréal in recognition of her accomplishments.

Information and text for this blog post were derived from the memorial plaque exhibited in the Annie Langstaff room at the Faculty of Law, McGill University.

Access to Nahum Gelber Law Library during exam period / Accès à la Bibliothèque de droit Nahum Gelber pendant la période des examens

From Tuesday, April 7 to Wednesday, April 29, 2015, the main floor and second floor of the Nahum Gelber Law Library will be open for study to all McGill students during opening hours. During this period, only McGill Law students will be able to access the third, fourth and fifth floors using their ID cards on the card readers installed in both elevators and in access points.

This limited-access policy to the Nahum Gelber Law Library is being implemented a few days before and throughout the exam period and is designed to accommodate Law students who will be preparing final papers and completing take-home exams in the building. In order to prepare for these exams, Law students require non-circulating materials that are only available in the Nahum Gelber Law Library and so require extensive access to the stacks on the third, fourth and fifth floors…

Read the rest of the announcement here.

Collection Wainwright, nouvelles acquisitions: Coustumes generales du duchè d’Aouste

Grace à la générosité du Wainwright Trust,  nous avons ajouté à la Collections Wainwright un nouvel ouvrage  très rare avec seulement quatre autres exemplaires recensés dans les bibliothèques : Coustumes generales du duchè d’Aouste : proposees & redigees par escript en l’assemblee des trois estatz gens d’eglise, nobles, practiciens, & coustumiers : auec les vz & stilz audit pays obserués / le tout reueu & corrigé, & despuis confirmé & approuué par son altesse ; auec deux tables l’vne des tiltres & l’autre des principales matieres par ordre alphabetique.  Publié à Chambery par Loys Pomar en 1588, le livre a conservé sa reliure d’origine en vélin dur avec le dos à 3 nerfs orné de fleurons dorés. Il est la première édition du coutumier du Val d’Aoste.

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Contexte historique : Les réformes du duc Emmanuel-Philibert vont dans le sens de centraliser le pouvoir dans la personne du souverain et de supprimer le pluralisme juridique typique du Moyen Age. Prenant toutefois acte du loyalisme qu’ont démontré les Valdôtains pendant l’occupation française de la Savoie et du Piémont, il confirme les franchises de La Vallée d’Aoste et ses institutions particulières, y compris le Conseil des Commis, créé le 7 mars 1536 par l’Assemblée des États pour gouverner le Pays. L‘Assemblée des États obtient du duc l’autorisation de compiler un Coutumier et de nommer à cet effet une commission de juristes présidée par le premier sénateur de Savoie Jean-Geoffroy Ginod, évêque de Belley. Commencés en 1573, les travaux de la commission s’achèvent en 1588, quand le due Charles-Emmanuel Ier promulgue enfin le recueil des Coustumes du duché d’Aouste, imprimé à Chambéry par Louis Pomar, formé de six livres et comprenant en tout 4262 articles. Summa de la science juridique valdôtaine, le Coutumier concerne tant le droit civil que pénal et règlemente les magistratures locales et les professions libérales. De nombreux juristes et praticiens collaborent à sa rédaction, dont François et Jean Humbert de Vallaise, François-René de Nus, Claude d’Avise, Antoine et Pantaléon Vaudan, Bonaventure-Philibert Bomyon, Vlincent Ottiné, Guillaunie Lyboz et Vincent Regis  (adapté de Joseph Rivolin).

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