Taught by two experienced members of the criminal bar, this seminar explores how racial inequality and in particular anti-black racism are addressed in Canadian criminal law through a critical review of landmark cases and selected secondary scholarly literature.
Students will consider how advocates have worked to bring claims of racism to the courts. The class will assess the extent to which courts have addressed or failed to consider claims of racism, whether systemic or individual, in their interpretation of various areas of criminal law. How has recognition of this particular piece of “social context” been integrated into judicial decision-making and criminal procedure?
Students will study key parts of the criminal trial process from start to finish including bail, jury selection, Charter and common law motions, and sentencing.
By the end of the course students will be:
i) familiar with a set of contemporary cases in which questions about of race and racism intersect with issues in criminal procedure, sections 7, 8, 9, 24(2) of the Charter, evidence and sentencing.
ii) capable of critically analyzing the responses of the Canadian criminal justice system to claims of racism, whether systemic racism or particular incidents of racially targeted state action.
iii) able to develop effective approaches to anti racist advocacy suitable for use in Canadian criminal court.
Class discussions and assignments will work to bring together theory and practice in assessing and developing anti racist advocacy in the criminal law context.
Specific topics covered include:
· Identifying race and racism as part of context, and how this does/should impact legal interpretation;
· Identifying the relevance of race/racism for the parties involved; and
· Identifying the opportune time to raise the issue
Guest speakers with expertise in a relevant area will periodically visit the class.