The proliferation of fentanyl has required BC courts to respond in two ways – not just with the usual legal response to a new trend in criminal activity, but on a practical level as well. This eNews describes the approach BC courts have taken in sentencing those who traffic in fentanyl, and in dealing with high potency narcotics exhibits.
Going to court is intimidating enough if you’re a witness, you’re involved in a family court case, or you’re accused of a crime. Imagine how bewildering it is if you don’t understand or speak English! Spoken-language court interpreters are available, in some cases without charge. How do you ask for an interpreter, and when do you have to pay for one?
Recognized for its leadership in providing transparency and accountability in the judicial appointment process, BC’s Judicial Council has released its 20th Annual Report. Again this year, the Report includes statistics on applicants for judicial appointments to the British Columbia Provincial Court and their demographics – gender, age, experience, residential region, and ethnic background.
Speaking and writing in plain language doesn’t mean using only two-syllable words or “dumbing down” your message. It doesn’t force you to omit complex information. Instead, it involves analyzing what you want to say to determine what information your audience needs, organizing it logically, using words at a level your audience can understand, and presenting it so it’s easy to read.
In law school, students learn to understand and use legal terminology that can convey a legal principle in just a few words. As they become expert at legal jargon, they find using it quicker and clearer than trying to explain things accurately using ordinary language and simple terms. Why then, should lawyers and judges spend the time and effort to use plain language?