Roger writing the LAWmag

A Law Love So Intense

The little yellow Smart car I drive fits anywhere in the vacant row of parking spots in front of my church, the Victoria Courthouse. No other judge or lawyer would even dream of attending the Courthouse on a Saturday.

This is God's country, with the crisp, fresh Pacific Ocean air omnipresent and, in a minute or two, as my elevator opens to the 5th floor, the full view of that ocean as it leans around the Juan de Fuca Straight and into the Olympic Peninsula and laps against the beach just one kilometre from the Duhaime Law/duhaime.org office.

Greeting me, as it is the season, is the sight of three little gray-feathered seagulls caw in their nest on the ledge just outside a library window under the watch of mom and dad seagull, almost big enough to make the leap. An annual event unique to this law library.

law library seagullsHot Starbucks coffee, 2/3rd decaf in hand, I take my seat in the musky-smell but bright fluorescent light law library run by an innovative little agency known as Courthouse Libraries BC. This is the 2nd largest law library they operate in the province and here, the boss is the nicest law librarian I've ever met.

But it's dead quiet today. I'm alone, again, naturally. Tristam and Cootes on Probate has my back and on my flank, Sentencing: The Practioner's Guide, even as the English Reports line the far wall. I feel like Donald Duck's Uncle Scrooge frolicking on a bed of golden treasures.

There's grass to be cut back at the home front and a trimmer piece to pick up at Canadian Tire. That'll be Act II of this afternoon. My youngest starts her volunteer work at the Petting Zoo and my oldest, off to her job at her aunt's bed and breakfast.

Yet here I am on July 28, 2012, by choice, in a law library on a hot, cloudless July day in Victoria. Thetis Lake beckons as would a walk around Elk Lake, where the Canadian Olympic rowing team practices year round. And I'm missing the London Olympics on TV.

It is a malady which afflicts me, I know, and one with which I am hopelessly infected. Other lawyers, I muse, are jogging, gardening or fixing their sailboat.

I can't rest while there remain enemies to track and pin down. Today, it's plebiscite and referendum and conscription though I've no idea, really, how the hunt will go for the latter as the term seems to have dropped off the law books since the end of the last great war, which ended some 15 years before I was born. But they can hide. I will find it.

As duhaime.org surpasses 20-million visitors and 35-million page-views since it opened its doors in 1994 (as wwlia.org until 1998), fans send me emails which fuel my love for the law and the justice that it foments.

I"ve been called the modern William Blackstone and as if that wasn't enough to keep me going forever, someone suggested "Martin Luther of the law". I wasn't sure about that one until I dug and found that Luther confronted and spearheaded reform of an aging, archaic system and translated the bible for his German people.

Hmm. Ok. Too bad he was anti-semitic though.

There are many legal dictionaries and legal information websites but most of them are user-pay controlled access (such as Black's Law Dictionary), unreliable, anonymous content (Wikipedia) or sparse content without the presentation of references or the hyper-linking to those judicial references or related terms.

No copycat threats yet and even if anyone is now wise to the free, generous, understandable legal information formula, Duhaime.org is far ahead, rounding the bend to the encouragement of 20,000 visitors a day.

law libraryBut still, almost as if I'm sitting in some sad doctor's office after she has told me that I have osteoarthritis of the right hip which may well, soon enough, end my ice hockey career (that actually happened yesterday), I don't need an intervention to tell me I am crazy to be at the law library today. This is no big, lucrative case I'm working on. This is merely to work on my Big Project, my own sail-boat, that of the world's greatest on-line law dictionary and legal information website. An impossible task I once thought but now, I at least have the hull of the dictionary.

Hah! Who am I kidding? To be sure, just as day follows night, once I've got the whole massive set of most frequently asked-for legal terms such as actus reus, without prejudice and reasonable doubt signed, sealed and published, there's a plethora of other juicy, fascinating law terms such as Muslim law terms, remote Latin, military law and international law terms galore.

All just sitting there like plump fruits on a tree, here, many in this library, waiting for me to shake that tree and bake a world-wide legal definition, to promote harmonization and international consistency, and to reveal the term of art for all the world to see ... and on the Internet where, with the magic of hyper-linking, enabling that reader anywhere to see the judicial authority relied upon.

Five minutes past noon.

The time has come to confess. I am addicted to law.

I had wondered if it'd be a passing passion. My mother had often remarked on my father flopping from hobby to hobby leaving behind a trail of garage sales as the equipment for photography, super-8, shooting, hunting, tennis, curling etc. etc., came and went from my childhood abode. Now, at 86, his biggest thrill is watching The Price is Right!

So when the bug of law hit me hard on that first week of law school, and I was wondering where the work was in reading cases, little did I know that the addiction would grow and threaten always to overwhelm my reason and good sense; to lure me inside an office building on a gorgeous summer day in July.

Most every man will enjoy the presence of a delightful spouse and of children, delights that would never be surpassed by any law book. But second to that, and obviously, by the empty corridors of this library anyway, speaking just for myself, I have never found substance so exhilarating than the gentle paddle down the multiple rivers and streams of law which present themselves only at a law library.

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