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[Jan16] Tell: Making Poetry from Law (at Osgoode)

all information available in text belowTell: making poetry from law
Soraya Peerbaye and Sheila Batacharya in conversation with Kate Sutherland

photo of Soraya Peerbayephoto of Professor Sutherlandphoto of S. Batacharya

Monday January 16 2017
Osgoode Hall 4034 (in the Faculty Wing)

In writing the award winning Tell: Poems for a Girlhood, poet Soraya Peerbaye was deeply influenced by legal materials from the trial of the murderers of Reena Virk and the scholarship of Dr. Sheila Batacharya on reading the case through the lenses of race, crime and law.

Join us to hear Soraya Peerbaye and Sheila Batacharya in discussion with Osgoode Professor Kate Sutherland about the story of Reena Virk, the process by which legal materials can be turned into poetry, and the power and potential of this kind of work.

Coffee Tea and Snacks
Please RSVP

Soraya Peerbaye’s most recent collection of poetry, Tell: Poems for a Girlhood (Pedlar Press, 2015), won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry in English and was a finalist for the Griffin Poetry prize. Her first collection, Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names (Goose Lane Editions, 2009) was short-listed for the Gerald Lampert Award. Her poems have appeared in Red Silk: An Anthology of South Asian Women Poets, and the chapbook anthology Translating Horses, among others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph.

Dr. Sheila Batacharya completed her PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), University of Toronto. She has taught education, women’s and gender studies, criminology and sociology courses at several colleges and universities in Southern Ontario. Sheila’s research about the murder of Reena Virk includes a published book, co-edited with Dr. Mythili Rajiva, entitled Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives on a Canadian Murder (2010). Her research about embodiment, pedagogy and decolonization includes a forthcoming collection co-edited with Yuk-Lin Renita Wong. Her research in this area is fueled by her experiences teaching yoga and her curiosity and concern with articulating and practicing attunement to social-sentient embodied experiences in formal education and community contexts. At present, Sheila is pursuing TESL Ontario certification to teach English as a second or additional language.

Dr. Kate Sutherland is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, and a published author and poet.  Her most recent work is How to Draw a Rhinoceros (Book Thug, 2016), and she is the host and producer of the podcast On the Line: Conversations about Poetry.   You can follow her on Twitter: @lawandlit.

Racialized women in our discussion of retention of women lawyers in criminal defense practice

There’s been a bit of reporting and commentary on this topic lately, kicked off by the release in March 2016 of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association (Ontario)  report, The Retention of Women in the
Private Practice of Criminal Law, prepared by post-doctoral researcher Natasha Madon and Anthony Doob.

Here is a CBC news report following up on the report, quoting Breese Davies, a tireless advocate for female defence lawyers and a VP at the CLA.

An important addition to this discussion is offered over at the (Osgoode student newspaper) Obiter Dicta, by Andrea Anderson, a PhD student and criminal defence lawyer herself.  She writes about female defence attorneys who are Black or Indigenous in her commentary entitled:  The Retention of Women in Private Practice: The challenge is intersectional:

While not an exhaustive list, in my own experiences practicing criminal defence, I have often (too many times to count) been mistaken for the co-accused, the surety to the girlfriend of my male clients and in turn, prohibited from crossing over to sit at the counsel table or looking at the docket sheet from other members of the Bar—all instances that have included non-racialized female counsel. I have listened to male interviewers make inappropriate comments about my body type, questioning whether I am fit to practice criminal defence.

On the same set of issues, see Naomi Sayers (UOttawa law student, her blog is Kwe Today and she tweets as @kwetoday) and Sam Peters (also a U of O JD student, on twitter as @SamPetersTO) in the HuffPo, here:

Perhaps some of the reasons why racialized women are leaving the criminal profession are more complex than what is discussed in the report. Perhaps it is also because we do not get paid the same as white women, let alone white men. What about Black and Indigenous women in criminal law practice? We are often mistaken for the assistant in the courtroom, rather than the lawyer. And the most obvious, racialized lawyers in criminal law practice are often in solo practice. Maybe it is because we are not even hired as much.

Questions about the retention rates amongst women in criminal private practice are really important to ask, as are questions about how Black and indigenous women fare when they are on the Crown side.   The highly gender and  racialised nature of criminal justice in Canada means that these women are uniquely positioned – very differently to other lawyers – when they join the defence bar.  How different is their experience?  I’m glad that one of the results of the CLA report (bravo CLA for commissioning) are the questions that Andrea Anderson, Naomi Sayers and Samantha Peters are asking. Small scale study, anyone?


Random Girls rule

oh my.  Doctor claims in lawsuit that “out-of-wedlock conception deprived him of the choice of falling in love, marrying, and choosing when to have a child.” Toronto judge rightly chucks it out.  Here.   Such a small thing, but here it is, Saturday night and all the interesting bits of Pride and Prejudice are over, only the mush is left.  So, a few things….

1. the information including the age of the child and age of the woman does seem to open doors for possible identification.

2.    Now THIS is how it’s done:

“But then came the text message at 7:06 p.m. on Aug. 10, 2014, that would shock PP and change his life forever.

DD said she was 10 weeks pregnant with PP’s baby, according to the statement of claim.

PP wanted her to get an abortion.

DD said no.

PP said, “I don’t want to have a baby with some random girl.”

DD said, “This random girl is fine doing it on her own.””

3. the “emotional damage” here, might, with some escalation, approach what at least one Canadian legal scholar (ok, on twitter) seemed to suggest would meet the R. v. Hutchinson [2014] 1 SCR 346 (because there were a surprising number of people who only wanted to talk about Hutchinson in terms of “but what about when the women do it”).  This is in tort, though, obviously.

4. The lawyer who drafted the statement of claim is, mercifully for them perhaps, not named.  Am I being too dismissive of the strength of the claimant’s argument? #notatortexpertunderanydefinitionofexpert.

Source: Doctor sues mother of his child for emotional damages | Toronto Star

NIP: Why Some Men Are Above the Law by Martha C. Nussbaum

Famous men standardly get away with sexual harms, and for the most part will continue to do so. They know they are above the law, and they are therefore undeterrable. What can society do? Don’t give actors and athletes such glamor and reputational power. But that won’t happen in the real world. What can women do? Don’t be fooled by glamor. Do not date such men, unless you know them very, very well. Do not go to their homes. Never be alone in a room with them. And if you ignore my sage advice and encounter trouble, move on. Do not let your life get hijacked by an almost certainly futile effort at justice. Focus on your own welfare, and in this case that means: forget the law.

Source: Why Some Men Are Above the Law | Martha C. Nussbaum

An interesting intervention from the eminent scholar.  One question this leaves open for me is this – how are we defining famous?  I wonder whether in truth it is defined largely in relation to the standing of the woman in question and calibrated to the jurisdiction. Famous enough…