Canadian Court Rules Detainees Can Search for Lawyers Online

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 25, 2013

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In Alberta, Canada, a judge has decided that detainees have the right to use online search engines to find legal representation. 

The ruling comes from a case involving a 19-year-old man picked up for a DUI-related charge. The young man was offered a Yellow Pages directory and a landline, according to this news source. Seemingly, having little familiarity with this method of searching and contacting people or businesses, today’s youth may find it difficult to access appropriate representation while in custody. People who grew up in the 2000s will likely have only used Internet sources as a directory and may look at a phone book and landline the way a dvd-toting product of the 1990s might scoff at a record player. 

In addition, most attorneys advertise on websites today as much as, if not more so, than through traditional phone books. Attorney ads online tend to be focused to various client needs and search engines make it easier for a person to pinpoint the type and cost of a wide selection of local attorneys. 

When asked which source would be best for the detainee in question, he said Google, according to reports. He also had access to 411 phone services but said this was not better than the phone book option. 

With the right of all detainees to have access to an attorney and given today’s technological setting, the court ruled in favor of the 19-year-old, with potential to set a precedent for other courts to follow suit. It would not be surprising to see similar initiatives follow in American courts. 

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