Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest (Tip of the Week)

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By Alan Kilpatrick

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest is a unique sentencing tool available to all members. This searchable resource contains short digests and summaries of sentencing appeals heard by the Court of Appeal from 1982 to the present. The Court of Appeal librarian attends all sentence appeals and creates a summary of the decisions. This resource is invaluable, as Court of Appeal judges do not always provide written reasons for sentence appeals. In many cases, the digest is the only record of a sentence appeal.

You can access the Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest directly from the Law Society Library homepage.


Let’s learn how to use the Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest to identify the sentencing range for a male young offender with fetal alcohol syndrome, charged with breaking and entering. Begin by typing in the charge, break & enter.


Next, type in the section number in the Criminal Code: criminal code & 348.


Continue by typing keywords that describe the other circumstances pertaining to this situation: fetal alcohol syndrome.


Finally, indicate that the individual charged is a male young offender.


The search located four Court of Appeal sentence appeals that match our search criteria. One of the results is displayed below.


The offence, Criminal Code section, and neutral citation are indicated at the top of the screen. The history and circumstances of this young offender appear in the centre of the screen. The prior record, additional convictions, original sentence, and disposition of the appeal appear at the bottom of the screen. In this case, we can see the original sentence was nine months open custody plus nine months probation and the sentence appeal was dismissed.

If you have any questions about the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Sentencing Digest, ask a Law Society Librarian. Library staff provide legal research assistance to members in person, on the telephone, or by email.


Call 306-569-8020 in Regina
Toll-free 1-877-989-4999
Fax 306-569-0155

Tips from the Editor- Miss Spellings and Miss Used Words Part 2

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By Kelly Laycock

As promised, here is the continuation of my last post. I’ve attempted to explain the confusion that arises with some of the most common errors. There is no shortage of words to choose from!

1. Misused words

a, an Okay, let’s get this straight once and for all. We all know to use a when the following word starts with a consonant and an when the following word starts with a vowel, but what we should really say is when the following word starts with a vowel sound or a consonant sound. 


a cat
an apple

Easy enough. But what about these:


a unit
an uncle
a historic (unless you pronounce it “istoric”)
an hour

Or depending on your specific pronounciaiton:

herb [h]
or [er]

a herb
an herb

among, between – between you and me, but among the three of us. The rule: between two, among more than two. That’s it! (And if you are wondering why it’s between you and me not between you and I, see this previous post.)

and/or – Strunk and White call this “A device, or shortcut, that damages a sentence and often leads to confusion or ambiguity.” [1] They suggest using the term that best clarifies the sentence. A few solutions present themselves:

You can choose cake, pie and/or brownies.
You can choose cake and/or pie.

You can choose cake, pie or brownies.
You can choose cake or pie or both.
You can choose either cake or pie.

That being said, it is in the dictionary as an acceptable English conjunction. I’m not convinced that it causes confusion for most people, but I definitely think it lacks style. I would use it sparingly or avoid it altogether.

because, since – These conjunctions can be used interchangeably when showing a causal relationship, although because is often considered a little stronger. [2] The confusion comes from the two meanings of since, both causal and temporal. When the sentence is ambiguous, because is preferred.

Ambiguous: Since the judge called a recess, counsel headed outside for a cigarette.
Causal: Because the judge called a recess, counsel headed outside for a cigarette.
Temporal: Since the moment the judge called a recess, counsel has been outside for a cigarette.

compared to, compared with  “To compare to is to point out or imply resemblances between objects regarded as essentially of a different order; to compare with is mainly to point out the differences between objects regarded as essentially of the same order. Thus, life has been compared to a pilgrimage, to a drama, to a battle; Congress may be compared with the British Parliament. Paris has been compared to ancient Athens; it may be compared with modern London.” [3]

couple (of) – couple (n): two people or things that are together; a couple of (adj phrase): an indefinite small number

A couple of days ago, he saw a couple walking hand in hand.

He spent a couple of bucks on a coffee. (not a couple bucks)

different from, different than – Different from is the standard phrase, according to all sources I’ve checked. Different than is more common in America than Britain, but as The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation points out, “…many fine writers have had no problem steering clear of different than for their entire careers.” [4]

disinterested, uninterested – “You can be both uninterested and disinterested, or one but not the other. Disinterested means ‘impartial’; uninterested means ‘unconcerned’ or ‘apathetic.’ Many would interpret The judge was disinterested to mean that the judge didn’t care. But the sentence actually means that the judge was unbiased. Huge difference there. Would you rather a have a judge who’s fair or one who wants to go home?” [5]

fewer, less – “If you can count the commodity, less will be wrong. You have less justification, but fewer reasons.” [6]

guilty, liable – “In the law, guilty specifically refers to having been found by a jury to have committed a crime. The term guilty is properly used only in the criminal context. By contrast, liable refers to the condition of being legally responsible or obligated to do or refrain from doing something.

  • The jury found the defendant guilty as charged of first-degree murder.
  • If my dog bites someone, I will be liable for the person’s medical bills.” [7]

infer, imply – “Infer means to deduce or to draw a conclusion. Imply means to suggest or hint…

  • The jury could infer from Mr. Smith’s testimony that he knew the gun was loaded.
  • Mr. Smith’s testimony implied that he knew the gun was loaded.” [8]

irregardless – “This nonsense word results from confusing and combining regardless and irrespective. If people would just think about it, what’s that silly ir- doing there?” says The Blue Book. “In technical terms, ir- is an initial negative particle. So if irregardless means anything, it means ‘not regardless’ when the person using it is trying to say the exact opposite.” [9]

unique – without like or equal; the only one

Strunk and White point out that if something is the only one, there can be no degrees of uniqueness. The Blue Book explains further, “Unique belongs to a group of words called absolutes or incomparables. Examples include dead, equal, essential, eternal, opposite, supreme. Such words resist being modified. Modifiers like more, most, absolutely, rather, and very either strip them of their strength or result in foolishness.” [10]

And a few fun and misused phrases:

bated breath (not baited breath) – to hold one’s breath; a variant of abated, meaning lessened in intensity or restrained

champing at the bit (not chomping at the bit) – to show impatience; champ means to bite or chew noisily; a bit is the part of a horse’s harness that goes in its mouth;

couldn’t care less (not could care less) – If you couldn’t care less, then you are completely uninterested in something. If you could care less, then you still have some interest.

for all intents and purposes (not for all intensive purposes) – Confession: this one came as a surprise when I first started copyediting, having never seen this expression written before. If you’d asked, I couldn’t have explained what an intensive purpose would be, but cut me some slack; this is the language where you might find one in the same, a blessing in the skies, and a doggy-dog world.

hold one’s peace, but speak one’s piece – easily confused, but sometimes we just need to give someone a piece of our mind before we can have peace of mind.

There are so many of these, I could go on forever.

 2. Redundancies

It is my personal opinion that completelyeradicating redundancies will vastlyimprove your writing. I will warn you in advance that my ultimate goal is to make each and every one of you aware of these issues so you can avoid making unintentional mistakes. Don’t make me repeat it again. Here are a few more, just for fun!

all-time record
basic necessities
close proximity
depreciate in value
enclosed herein
first and foremost
grow in size
habitual custom
important essentials
joint collaboration
knowledgeable experts
local residents
merge together
natural instinct
originally created
plan ahead
revert back
still persists
true facts
unexpected emergency
visible to the eye
whether or not

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, I have no illusions that I will ever be able to remember all of these distinctions, but my job as a copyeditor is to recognize the problem words and consult with the authorities to make sure they are spelled correctly or are being used properly. Now I hope we are all a little more aware of these potential pitfalls.

I would love to hear from our readers if there are any favourites that I’ve missed!



[1] Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed (Boston: Pearson, 2000) 40
[2] Einsohn, Amy. The Copyeditor’s Handbook (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006) 374
[3] Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 43
[4] Straus, Jane, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, 11th ed (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2014) 79
[5] Straus, Jane, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, 80
[6] Straus, Jane, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, 84
[7] Vanwinkle, Jessie, “Commonly Confused and Misused Words in Legal Writing”, online:
[8] Vanwinkle, Jessie, “Commonly Confused and Misused Words in Legal Writing”
[9] Straus, Jane, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, 93
[10] Straus, Jane, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, 119


Final Exam Q & A (Throwback Thursday)

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Throwback3Jul14By Melanie Hodges Neufeld

During a recent weed of the Regina collection, we came across this gem from 1882, Hallilay’s Digest of Questions, 12th Edition*. The long title is A Digest of the Questions Asked At The Final Examination of Articled Clerks In The Common Law, Conveyancing, and Equity Divisions. From The Commencement of the Examination In 1836 To The Present Time, With A Time Table In An Action; And The Mode Of Proceeding, And Directions To Be Attended To At The Examination, With The Rules Of The Honour Examination. As the long title explains, the book contains nearly 600 pages of questions asked of articling students on subjects such as the law of torts or private wrongs, evidence and rights of a married woman. Here are a few sample questions and answers. Any still hold true today?

Q. – State some of the nuisances affecting dwelling-houses and lands, for which an action will lie.
A. – If a man sets up an offensive trade, as a tallow-chandler’s, or maintains an offensive thing upon the premises, as a dung-heap, the stench from which renders the air unwholesome, and the enjoyment of property uncomfortable, these are nuisances for which an action will lie. Various other instances may be mentioned, as obstructing lights, or diverting watercourses.

Q. – Suppose a witness whom you wished to call as a witness in a cause was about to sail on a distant voyage, should you think it advisable to detain him here till the trial, or is there any other way of obtaining his testimony?
A. – Yes; application may be made to the court, or at chambers, for a rule or order for the examination of the witness on oath before a master of the court, or other person named in such order. The application should be supported by affidavit, stating the name of the witness, and that he is material, and the grounds upon which you apply to have him examined.

Q. – Distinguish between the positions of a married and a single woman in respect of property to which each is entitled under the same will for her separate use, with a restraint upon anticipation.
A. – The married woman would be restrained from alienating or disposing of it in any way (except upon application to the court after 31st December, 1881), as the clause against anticipation would prevent her doing so; but the single woman could of course dispose of it as she thinks proper, the separate use clause and the restraint upon anticipation having no effect in her case.


* Richard Hallilay, A Digest of the Questions Asked At The Final Examination of Articled Clerks In The Common Law, Conveyancing, and Equity Divisions (London: Horace Cox, 1882).

Welcome to the New World!

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By Ken Fox

Today I woke to a world without spam, and so far the world looks very much like it did in the heady spam-filled days of pre-July 2014. The sun rose (having no alternative), the sidewalks still supported my weight, and construction has still not started on the Capital Pointe Condos (five years and counting since my favourite downtown pub was knocked down to be replaced by nothing). My key-fob activated as usual to get me into the courthouse, and my door key served its usual purpose – so I am happy to say the library is open today.

I also received a lot of spam. Reviewing my mailbox for the first time since June 27, I noticed many of the typical mass mail-outs had arrived. How many of these are actually spam? Likely all of them, according to the broad definition of “commercial electronic message” in the act.

This is partly my own doing. In the past couple of weeks, like everyone else, I have received many emails from various parties seeking consent to continue sending me messages. I gave my approval to a handful of valued information sources and denied consent to one or two unvalued ones. But for the most part, I just deleted the requests, content to allow the electrons to fend for themselves. So far, they seem to have interpreted my non-responses as implied consent.

Are the senders of these messages living dangerously? Is it only a matter of time before enforcement kicks in with fines and injunctions? Will this new legislation create a spam-free world? Will it overstep its purpose and make it difficult to send legitimate messages? I’m no expert, but I doubt if anyone knows the answers to these questions.

I guess I don’t really have much of a stake in this game. I’m sure that any information that is really valuable will still find its way through the rigors of request and permission to its intended recipient, even if in extreme situations the recipient needs to actively seek out said information. And I wouldn’t mind if down the road there are a few less messages to delete from my Inbox. In fact I’ve already compensated for a few hundred less taps at the delete key by writing this superfluous blog post.

No, I haven’t read the legislation, epoch-making as it is. I did enjoy some of David Canton’s posts on In a recent one he described the legislation as “a sledgehammer to kill a fly.” If you want a detailed summary and critique, I recommend going through some of his many posts on the matter. If Canton is correct, then despite the lighthearted views expressed here, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned. But for a more sympathetic assessment of the new legislation, visit Michael Geist’s blog and search for CASL.

Meanwhile, note that this statute we have been calling (with its regs) “CASL” (Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation) has not been given a short title. For a chuckle, check out its citing info on CanLII.


Tips from the Editor- Miss Spellings and Miss Used Words Part 1

Posted on Updated on

By Kelly Laycock

Let’s begin with this tasty morsel by Margo Roark [1]:

Eye halve a spelling checker
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques for my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it to say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
It’s rare lea ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it
Eye am shore your pleased two no
It’s letter perfect awl the weigh
My checker tolled me sew.

How do I organise a post about a topic as big as misspellings and misused words in English without crippling myself with doubt about misusing a word in it? I could try to be pithy and write an entire post in the format of the poem above and see if my readers could decipher it. But that sounds like a lot more effort than I want to expend, and a lot more creative than I feel. Still, the mass confusion continues, so I thought it might be fun to add my voice to this comedy of errors.

In every grammar reference book and website I’ve consulted, there are lists and lists of words that are “commonly misused” for various reasons. Most of these materials lay out long alphabetical lists that you can search, much like a dictionary, but I find that method unhelpful unless you know exactly which word you are looking up. I know from experience that I will never internalize all the correct spellings and uses of the million or so words that exist in the English language [2], so what I need are categories of words to watch for. And once again I lean on my Bible, Amy Einsohn’s The Copyeditor’s Handbook.

In the chapter “Spelling and Hyphenation”, she calls attention to the gaps left by spellcheckers:

…spellcheckers do not distinguish between homophones (principal and principle), do not account for spellings determined by usage (resume and résumé), and may allow variant spellings (catalog and catalogue) in the same document. And, of course, spellcheckers do not highlight a misspelled word if the misspelling is itself a word (from and form).

From this quote, I’ve collected a number of great categories to start with: homophones, variant spellings, and misused words and phrases. To this list, I will add redundancies, which continually plague our otherwise concise writing. Considering the amount of material I had to choose from, I’ve split this topic into two posts, Homophones and Variants in Part 1, and Misused Words and Phrases along with Redundancies in Part 2. Enjoy!

Part 1

1. Homophones (and other similar-sounding words)

In case we’ve forgotten, homophones are words that sound the same but differ in meaning (caret, carrot, karat). A subcategory of homophones are homonyms, words that share the same spelling and pronunciation but that have different meanings (rose, the flower, and rose, the past tense of rise). All homonyms are homophones, but not all homophones are homonyms. I’ve added a few words that aren’t exactly homophones, but are similar enough to cause confusion.

accept (v), except (prep) Except for part two, I accept the terms of the agreement.
adverse (adj), averse (adj) Because he enjoyed a challenge, he was not averse to the adverse conditions he was facing.
advice (n), advise (v) She tried to advise her client, but her advice fell on deaf ears.
affect (v), effect (n or v) The advice affected her client, but the effect was not what she had predicted. The protesters were trying to effect a change to the policy.
allude (v), elude (v) The lawyer alluded to a previous witness’s testimony without directly naming the witness. The drug dealer eluded the police vehicle by turning down a back alley.
ascent (n), assent (n or v) The royal assent was given to the new legislation. His ascent up the corporate ladder was not without personal sacrifice.
assure (v), ensure (v), insure (v) The counsellor assured his client that she would have time to ensure that her property was insured before the hearing.
cite (v), sight (n), site (n) Lawyers must learn to cite their sources correctly. He caught sight of the historical site from the bus window.
compliment (n or v), complement (n or v) She gave her mother a compliment on her new hairstyle. Her scarf complemented the colour of her suit.
council (councillor), counsel (counsellor) The council members gathered in the boardroom. She called her legal counsel to discuss the progress of her case.
dependant (n), dependent (adj) The woman’s dependants were all dependent on her single income.
elicit (v), illicit (adj) In the course of the trial, the lawyer elicited a confession of the illicit dealings of the accused.
farther (physical distance), further (time or quantity) He pushed his chair farther away from the table. She needed to do further research into the topic.
its (possessive pronoun), its (contraction of it is) It’s impressive to see how the chimpanzee takes care of its young.
principal (n), principle (n or adj) The principal’s principle rule of thumb was to follow the principle of fairness.
wave (v), waive (v) The accused waved to his family as he entered the courtroom.
The accused waived her right to counsel when she refused to call a lawyer.

2. Variant Spellings

For Canadian spelling, we find ourselves caught between two superpowers: British English and American English. The Canadian Style recommends using the Gage Canadian Dictionary, which it says reflects most federal government departments and agencies, more so than the two big guns: Oxford (British) or Merriam-Websters (American). As Canadians, I feel we are certainly aware of this dichotomy, but that doesn’t mean we are any less confused by it! When in doubt, check your dictionary! Here is a sample of the big differences (British on the left, American on the right). Canadian spelling usually leans toward the British variants.

Nouns ce/se Nouns re/er Verbs single l/double ll
defence, defense
offence, offense
pretence, pretense
centre, center
metre, meter
theatre, theater
instil, instill
fulfil, fulfill
enrol, enroll
Nouns our/or Verbs ise/ize Past tense verbs double ll/single l
behaviour, behavior
colour, color
favour, favor
neighbour, neighbor
civilise, civilize
organise, organize
counselled, counseled
labelled, labeled
travelled, traveled

Other variants that have developed over time and are not considered wrong in any way. They represent preferences expressed by specific publishers or others, and many have developed into industry standard spellings, ultimately causing the others to be less used and appear more like relics. Here are a few examples from Einsohn [3] (I’ve put my own preferences on the left and italicized any that are considered industry standard):

afterward, backward, forward, toward
amid, among
afterwards, backwards, forwards, towards
amidst, amongst


*I prefer resume without the accents because I find they create a cluttered look if the word is used too frequently in a paragraph. Besides that, the context will always clarify the pronunciation between the noun and the verb of this homograph (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings or pronunciations), much like other pairs of this type.

After the interruption, she was ready to resume composing her resume.
The record label chose to record the band’s first album.
She was content to find the content of her manuscript unchanged.

In the next post, we’ll continue this theme and look at all those tricky misused words that we can’t keep straight. Stay tuned!



[1] The English Spelling Society, “Poems showing the absurdities of English spelling” online. Accessed June 20, 2014.
[2] Global Language Monitor
[3] Einsohn, Amy, The Copyeditor’s Handbook, 125

Criminal Sentencing with Rangefindr (Tip of the Week)

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By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library recently purchased an exciting new criminal sentencing resource called rangefindrRangefindr is designed to help lawyers and judges find criminal sentencing ranges in seconds instead of hours. Click on a few tags that describe the kinds of cases you’re looking for (like “Assault,” “First offender,” and “Emphasizes rehabilitation”) and rangefindr tells you what kind of sentences were imposed in those cases. One more click and you can review the judgments themselves.

You can access rangefindr from the Members’ Section of the Law Society website.


For example, let’s use rangefindr to identify the sentencing range of a young adult, with no prior record, convicted of dangerous driving.  Let’s select tags from the left side of the screen that describe our case.


Begin by selecting the criminal code offence, dangerous driving.





Next, indicate that the accused is a young adult.



Finally, indicate that the accused is a first offender with no prior record.


As we make our tags more specific, the number of cases that match our tags is indicated at the bottom of the screen.  Once we have entered all of the tags describing our case, select show me these cases.

Our search retrieved 35 cases.  The first search result displayed is 2014 ONCJ 119.  The sentence imposed was 1 year and 6 months probation.  A link to CanLII is provided on the right.


The second result is 2013 ABQB 414.  The total sentence imposed was two years.


If you have any questions about rangefindr, ask a Law Society Librarian. Library staff provide legal research assistance to members in person, on the telephone, or by e-mail.


Call 306-569-8020 in Regina
Toll-free 1-877-989-4999
Fax 306-569-0155