Dana Phillips

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Dissertation Title: Evidence for Equality: Fact-Finding in Canadian Public Interest Litigation Under s.7 of the Charter

Dissertation Topic:

My dissertation examines recent fact-finding practices in Canadian constitution litigation through the lens of social equality. The project responds to a trend in constitutional test case litigation whereby controversial social issues are adjudicated on the basis of increasingly lengthy and complex evidentiary records. In some ways, this development holds promise for those seeking progressive social change, as marginalized people bring more in-depth information about their social circumstances before the courts, and render dominant norms and assumptions vulnerable to factual re-assessment. And yet, the expanded role of what have come to be known as “social and legislative facts” in constitutional litigation also threatens to perpetuate subordination in new forms. From a practical perspective, approaches to fact-finding that place heavy burdens of evidence on rights-seekers and heighten the uncertainty of litigation create barriers to the pursuit of equality through the courts. In terms of broader power relations, extensive fact-finding processes may entrench hierarchies of knowledge that privilege the views of certain types of experts over those who have directly experienced inequality. Taking a contextual approach to the study of evidence inspired by the New Evidence Scholarship, my project investigates how knowledge is constructed, mobilized, and evaluated in constitutional litigation, and examines the implications of such practices for equality both within and beyond the courtroom.

Education

  • Master of Laws - Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2015
  • Juris Doctor - University of Victoria, Faculty of Law, 2013
  • Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts & Science and Philosophy - McMaster University, Arts & Science Program, 2007

Teaching Experience

  • "Ethical Lawyering in a Global Community", Osgoode Hall Law School, York University Teaching Assistant, 2016-present
  • National Judicial Institute, Ottawa, ON Judicial Education Professional, 2013-2014 (educational program planning and development)
  • JungChul Language Institute, Donghae, South Korea English (ESL) Teacher, 2007-2008
  • "Informal Logic", McMaster University, Arts & Science Program Teaching Assistant, 2005-2007
  • Private Tutor, London and Hamilton, ON University, High School, and Elementary School Tutor, 1999-2009

Professional Experience

  • Institute for Feminist Legal Studies (IFLS), Osgoode Hall Law School, York University - Graduate Fellow, 2015-2016
  • National Judicial Institute, Ottawa, ON - Legal Consultant, Summer 2014
  • National Judicial Institute, Ottawa, ON - Articled Student-at-law, 2013-2014
  • Carleton University, Department of Law and Legal Studies - Research Assistant, 2014
  • Appeal: Review of Current Law and Law Reform, University of Victoria Faculty of Law - Co-Editor-in-Chief, 2012-2013
  • B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson, Victoria, BC - Co-op and Summer Student – Systemic Investigations Team, 2011 and 2012
  • Island J.A.D.E. Society, Campbell River, BC - Co-op Student – Advocate for People in Poverty, Summer 2010

Publications

  • “Let’s Talk About Sexual Assault: Survivor Stories and the Law in the Jian Ghomeshi Media Discourse” (2017) 54:4 Osgoode Hall Law Journal, forthcoming. [Peer reviewed]
  • “Loosening the Law's Bite: Law, Fact, and Expert Evidence in R v JA and R v NS” International Journal of Evidence and Proof, forthcoming. Pre-published February 17, 2017, DOI: 10.1177/1365712717690752. [Peer reviewed}
  • “Pleasure Reading”, Book Review, (2015) 61:1 McGill Law Journal 221 [Reviewing Ummni Khan, Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary (2014)]. [Peer reviewed]
  • “The Prude in the Law: Why the Polygamy Reference is All About Sex” (2014) 19 Appeal: Review of Current Law and Law Reform 151-158. [Peer reviewed]
  • “Public Interest Standing, Access to Justice, and Democracy under the Charter: Canada (AG) v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence” (2013) 22:2 Constitutional Forum 21-32.
  • “Investigating the Shared Background Required for Argument: A Critique of Fogelin’s Thesis on Deep Disagreement” (2008) 28:2 Informal Logic 86-101. [Peer reviewed]

Awards

  • Master’s Thesis Prize, 2016
  • SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, 2015-2018
  • Hon. William Z. Estey Teaching Fellowship, 2015
  • York Graduate Scholarship, 2014 and 2015
  • SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Master's Scholarship, 2014
  • David Roberts Prize in Legal Writing for excellence in a legal research paper, 2013
  • Nash and Company Scholarship in Evidence for top mark in Evidence course, 2012
  • Wootton Scholarship in Law for proficiency in legal research and writing, 2010
  • Law Foundation Entrance Scholarship, 2009

Presentations

  • Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, Mexico City, 2017 - “Common Knowledge in a Changing World: The Tacit Allocation of Burdens of Proof in Canadian Cases Involving the Niqab”
  • Osgoode Graduate Conference, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2017 “The Facts about Constitutional Rights”
  • Canadian Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, University of Calgary, 2016 “Equality by Evidence: Contesting Law with Fact in Cases of Lived Social Difference”
  • Osgoode Graduate Conference, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2016 “Let’s Talk About Sexual Assault: Survivor Stories and the Law in the Post-Ghomeshi Media Discourse”
  • Osgoode Forum, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2015 “Disrupting Legal Hegemonies: Law, Fact and Expert Evidence in R v JA and R v NS”
  • Critical Perspectives: Criminology and Social Justice, Carleton University, 2014 Performed original spoken word poem at book launch for Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary by Professor Ummni Khan
  • Appeal Launch Celebration, University of Victoria, 2014 “The Prude in the Law: Why the Polygamy Reference is All About Sex”
  • Dissensus and the Search for Common Ground, University of Windsor, 2007 “Investigating the Shared Background Required for Argument: A Critique of Fogelin’s Thesis on Deep Disagreement”