TRU Law wins first place in Iron Tech Lawyer Invitational 2022 – TRU Newsroom

July 10, 2022 at 5:44 pm  Education, Kamloops, News

On 29 April 2022, six teams competed for the final round in the Iron Tech Lawyer Invitational, an international competition hosted by Georgetown University’s Faculty of Law for student-made tech solutions that help bridge the justice gap. An enterprising group of students at Thompson Rivers University Faculty of Law consisting of Darnel Tailfeathers, Nicholas Todd, Zachary Halper, Hasleen Sanghera, and Sean Macdonald got an early start at 6 am to join these teams with dynamic solutions for accessible justice and won first place! 

The Idea 

What started as an idea in a TRU parking lot took on a whole new life when a group of students came together to develop Darnel Tailfeathers’ vision to reduce the disproportionately high levels of Indigenous Peoples in the Canadian justice system. On an early morning in 2022, while discussing a project for TRU Law’s Designing Legal Expert Systems course, Nicholas Todd and Darnel Tailfeathers dabbled on the possibility of creating an app that would address the need for an expedited, Gladue-based resource for criminal defense lawyers representing Indigenous clients to use in sentencing hearings. Thus, the “Gladue Submissions Assistant” was born. 

App Development 

The app was developed to help Four Justice Services provide a resource for Indigenous clients to use in sentencing and bail submissions, where it is not feasible to wait for a Gladue report to be drafted. It produces a draft sentencing submission tailored to the client’s Gladue Factors—systemic and background circumstances unique to Indigenous Peoples that the Supreme Court of Canada in the case of R v Gladue ruled must be considered during sentencing in a criminal trial. There is currently no resource similar to this available to Indigenous clients. This app was built for lawyers whose clients are located in British Columbia, Canada. The app was developed using Neota Logic. 

The Vision 

In criminal law cases, R v Gladue is binding in all Canadian courts. As a result, the same guidelines for Gladue considerations apply regardless of the province or territory, or level of court. Currently, the team hopes to implement research from all 198 distinct First Nations of British Columbia into the project. Once completed in British Columbia, they intend to expand our project to other Canadian provinces and territories, with the goal of having the app be used across the country. In the long term, Nicholas Todd, one of the team members, hopes that the app will “inspire similar projects in countries that are also experiencing disproportionate numbers of Indigenous Peoples in their justice systems.” 

 The team is grateful for the mentorship of Katie Sykes, Kevin Mulcahy, Mitch Walker, Daniel McNamee, and Rose Morgan in bringing this app to life. 


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