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U.S. asks if accused Boston bomber's lawyers to claim mental illness

By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - The U.S. team prosecuting accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked defense attorneys on Friday to notify them by next month if they plan to make the 20-year-old defendant's mental faculties an issue at trial.

Existing support may be enough to fight old-age poverty in vets: officials

OTTAWA - The Veterans Affairs Department is weighing whether federal programs will provide enough of a safety net to keep the most severely injured ex-soldiers from falling into poverty after they turn 65. Minister Julian Fantino and senior officials have told a Senate committee that concerns about gaps in coverage, raised last fall by the veterans ombudsman, are still under review.

Canada top court rejects justice's appointment

Canada's high court on Friday rejected Prime Minister Stephen Harper's appointment of a like-minded justice to the top court, saying the vacancy must be filled by a judge or lawyer from Quebec. In a 6-1 decision, Supreme Court justices barred Marc Nadon from taking a vacant seat alongside them, noting that it is one of three reserved for Quebec judges or lawyers. The ruling is historic and a blow for the Harper government, which has sought to reshape the bench to reflect its socially conservative values.

Canada top court rejects justice's appointment

Canada's high court on Friday rejected Prime Minister Stephen Harper's appointment of a like-minded justice to the top court, saying the vacancy must be filled by a judge or lawyer from Quebec. In a 6-1 decision, Supreme Court justices barred Marc Nadon from taking a vacant seat alongside them, noting that it is one of three reserved for Quebec judges or lawyers. The ruling is historic and a blow for the Harper government, which has sought to reshape the bench to reflect its socially conservative values.

Gov't officially chooses Terada as chief justice of Supreme Court

The government formally chose Supreme Court Justice Itsuro Terada on Friday as the successor to Chief Justice Hironobu Takesaki, who is retiring at the end of this month. Terada, 66, will be the 18th chief justice and the first chief justice whose parent has also been in the top judicial position. His father, Jiro Terada, was the nation's 10th chief justice. Takesaki, 69, became chief justice in November 2008. His term was to run through July 7, but the government has said he is retiring sooner for health reasons.

Ombudsman powers expanded to include school boards and municipalities

TORONTO - Ontario will take a "huge leap' with proposed legislation to expand the powers of the ombudsman to provide oversight of municipalities, universities and school boards, Ombudsman Andre Marin said Thursday. Those three sectors get over $30 billion a year in direct provincial funding with virtually no oversight on how they spend it, said Marin.

Lead prosecutor quits U.S. general's sex assault case as trial nears

By Colleen Jenkins WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina (Reuters) - The lead prosecutor in a sexual assault case against a U.S. Army general set for trial next month has stepped down, a military spokesman said on Saturday, after defense lawyers say the prosecutor aired concerns about the credibility of a key witness.

Jury recommends de-escalation in police confrontations with the mentally ill

TORONTO - When police encounter an emotionally disturbed person officers should put more emphasis on defusing the situation through communication, particularly if those people don't respond to shouted police commands, a coroner's jury recommended Wednesday. The suggestion is one of dozens of recommendations put forward by a five-member jury in an inquest into the deaths of three mentally ill Toronto residents who were shot by police. Reyal Jardine-Douglas, Sylvia Klibingaitis and Michael Eligon were all gunned down after approaching officers with knives or scissors.

Inquest jury retires to mull proposed changes to policing of mentally ill

TORONTO - The jury at an inquest analysing the police shootings of three mentally ill Toronto residents headed into deliberations Tuesday with conflicting advice on recommendations it could make to prevent similar deaths in the future. On one hand jurors were warned not to micromanage police or their training, on the other they were urged to trigger a change in how officers deal with people in crisis.

Federal lawyers uniquely positioned in coming 2014 labour turmoil

OTTAWA - The Harper government has promised hard-nosed contract talks this year with most of its public-sector unions, but one group may be in for a somewhat easier ride: lawyers. The Conservative government last year signed a deal with its lawyers that gave them a whopping 12 per cent salary increase for the current year. And the workforce downsizing that hit most departments has not been nearly as severe among the 2,500 federal lawyers at the Justice Department and elsewhere.
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