This course will introduce students to the law of evidence in Canada. It will examine how the common law, statutes, and the Constitution interact to govern the proof of facts in both civil and criminal trials. Topics to be addressed include: burdens of proof; the role of the trial judge in managing the introduction of evidence; methods of presenting evidence; witness competency and compellability; relevance; and the various exclusionary rules that operate to limit the kinds of proof that can be received at trial (i.e. the rules governing hearsay, privilege, expert opinion evidence, etc.). The course will engage ethical issues that arise in the context of evidence law. It will consider how some rules of evidence have evolved historically, and it will attend to the social, political, and institutional contexts in which evidence law operates. The course will encourage critical reflection on the theories, purposes, and justifications that animate evidentiary rules, and on how those rules impact different individuals and communities.
To prepare for each class, students will be asked to view pre-recorded lectures and/or complete assigned readings. (The reading load has been adjusted to account for the time spent on pre-recorded lectures). Students will also complete 10 short online (eClass) exercises designed to help reinforce the material as the semester progresses. Class time will be dedicated to further lectures, discussions, and a variety of in-class exercises.