A Canuck lays down the law



The thought of standardized tests and getting in trouble with the law makes me fidgety.

I wouldn’t last a week in the slammer. I would be far too polite to cause a ruckus with my potential cell mates, Lil’ Lou (who the state knows as B-1556) and Shanking Steve (aka B-1557). I would have to respectfully decline both of their invitations to take possession of my soul.

I can already envision a disappointed Lil’ Lou with the teardrop tattoos under his eyes, which I assume symbolize that he’s lived a sad life and can be classified as a sympathetic character.

Ironic, then, is the fact that I had to take a standardized test, the LSAT, as a step toward law school and ultimately a better understanding of the legal system—a good way to avoid quality time with Lil’ Lou and a life of constant fidgetiness.

My focus on law got me thinking about the differences between the Canadian and U.S. legal systems and, for the most part, I couldn’t think of many differences. Both countries have a constitution, which is upheld by a complex court system headed by a supreme court.

And whether you’re in Canada or U.S., the assumption is that justice is blind. Unless you’re a celebrity. Then you can do whatever you want.

There is at least one difference between the two countries’ law codes, however.

Capital punishment exists in 35 U.S. states, yet in zero of Canada’s provinces and territories. Canadians would probably be hesitant to include an executioner as part of a beheading reenactment at a Renaissance fair, let alone sentence someone to lethal injection.

The lesson to be learned here is that if you’re going to commit capital murder, make sure you do it in one of the 15 states that have abolished the death penalty. You can never be too cautious in these situations.

Death penalty aside, without any criminal law, NBC would have been unable to fill their fall line-up for the better part of two decades with the many versions of “Law and Order.”

The proceedings of U.S. civil court have also brought hours upon hours of entertaining television thanks to the honorable Judge Judith Sheindlin and her ability to degrade the average litigants of society. Herein rests another difference in the legal system between the U.S. and Canada: the ease of suing another party.

In Canada, the losing party has to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees, as a way of discouraging frivolous lawsuits. In America, though the English Rule is adopted occasionally, often a party doesn’t have to worry about paying the other party’s fees should they lose in court.

The result? Even if someone is so stupid that they need to be warned in two languages (Caution!/Cuidado!) before scolding their tongue with coffee, they can sue the provider of said coffee willy-nilly.

It’s true that the legal systems are complex and balanced institutions. However, no formal legal training is needed to know that some things are not allowed.

But, just to be safe, the LSAT admission ticket states that no weapons or firearms are allowed in the testing room. I had to check my ninja stars at the door.