Dana Phillips

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Dissertation Title: Epistemological Justice in Strategic Challenges to Legislation under s.7 of the Charter

Dissertation Topic:

In recent years, strategic constitutional litigation in Canada—particularly challenges to legislation under s.7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms— has been marked by both voluminous evidentiary records and significant legal victories for marginalized communities. However, many scholars have raised doubts about the potential of such litigation to meaningfully advance social justice. While examining the doctrinal and social effects of constitutional decisions, critical scholars have thus far paid scant attention to epistemological concerns arising from the extensive fact-finding processes that have come to characterize this area of litigation. What kinds of evidence, and what ideas about knowledge, have enabled recent legal victories for marginalized groups? Are they also victories for the communities involved at the level of epistemological justice? In my dissertation, I take up this inquiry by examining the treatment of evidence and knowledge in strategic Charter challenges to legislation under s.7 through a feminist lens. I approach this inquiry primarily through an in-depth case study of the record, written arguments and decisions in Bedford v Canada (AG), a recent strategic Charter challenge to Canada’s former prostitution laws. The case study is supplemented by interviews with litigators and judges involved in Bedford and other strategic constitutional litigation.

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

  • Teaching Assistant Certification in Teaching, 2019 Teaching Commons, York University
  • Teaching Assistant, 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 Course Title: Ethical Lawyering in a Global Community Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Guest Speaker, November 15, 2019 Course Title: Feminist Advocacy Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Guest Speaker, November 15, 2019 Course Title: Feminist Advocacy Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Guest Lecturer, Nov 28, 2017 Course Title: Evidence Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Private Tutor, 1999-2009 Self-Employed
  • English (ESL) Teacher, 2007-2008 JungChul Language Institute, Donghae, South Korea
  • Teaching Assistant, 2005-2007 Course Title: Informal Logic McMaster University, Arts & Science Program

Professional Experience

  • Research Assistant, 2017 Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Graduate Fellow, 2015-2016 Institute for Feminist Legal Studies, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University
  • Legal Consultant, Summer 2014 National Judicial Institute, Ottawa, ON
  • Articled Student-at-Law, 2013-2014 National Judicial Institute, Ottawa, ON
  • Research Assistant, 2014 Carleton University, Department of Law and Legal Studies
  • Co-Editor-in-Chief, 2012-2013 Appeal: Review of Current Law and Law Reform, University of Victoria Faculty of Law
  • Co-op and Summer Student – Systemic Investigations Team, 2011 and 2012 BC Office of the Ombudsperson, Victoria, BC
  • Co-op Student – Advocate for People in Poverty, Summer 2010 Island J.A.D.E. Society, Campbell River, BC

Publications

  • Review of 'Putting Trials on Trial: Sexual Assault and the Failure of the Legal Profession' by Elaine Craig (2019) 34:1 Canadian Journal of Law and Society 169-172.
  • “Ishaq v Canada: ‘Social Science Facts’ in Feminist Interventions” (2018) 35 Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice 99-126. [Peer reviewed]
  • “Role of Experts in Judicial Proceedings”, in Rainer Grote, Frauke Lachenmann & Rüdiger Wolfrum, eds, Max Planck Encyclopedia of Comparative Constitutional Law (online), 2017.
  • “Let’s Talk About Sexual Assault: Survivor Stories and the Law in the Jian Ghomeshi Media Discourse” (2017) 54:4 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 1133-1180. [Peer reviewed]
  • “Loosening the Law's Bite: Law, Fact, and Expert Evidence in R v JA and R v NS” (2017) 21:3 International Journal of Evidence and Proof 242-261. [Peer reviewed]
  • “Pleasure Reading”, Review of 'Vicarious Kinks: S/M in the Socio-Legal Imaginary' by Ummni Khan (2015) 61:1 McGill Law Journal 221-230. [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

  • Susan Mann Dissertation Scholarship, 2019
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship, 2018 (deferred to 2019)
  • SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship, 2015-2018
  • Master’s Thesis Prize, 2016
  • 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, 2013
  • Nash and Company Scholarship in Evidence, 2012
  • Wootton Scholarship in Law, 2010
  • Law Foundation Entrance Scholarship, 2009

Presentations

  • “Social Science Research in Strategic Constitutional Challenges” Canadian Law & Society Association Mid-Year Meeting, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, 2019
  • “Knowledge at the Crossroads: Constitutional Fact-Finding and The Treatment of Experiential Knowledge in Canada (AG) v. Bedford” Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, Toronto, 2018
  • “Reproducing Inequality Through Evidence in Strategic Charter Challenges?” Feminist Legal Studies Queen’s Annual International Women’s Day Conference, Queen’s University, Faculty of Law, 2018
  • “Epistemic Pluralism in Constitutional Fact-Finding” Osgoode Graduate Conference, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2018
  • “Knowledge Constraints: Fact-Finding in Public Interest Litigation Under the Charter” Colloque Droit et Constraintes, Université du Québec à Montreal, 2017
  • “Common Knowledge in a Changing World: The Tacit Allocation of Burdens of Proof in Canadian Cases Involving the Niqab” Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, Mexico City, 2017
  • “The Facts about Constitutional Rights” Osgoode Graduate Conference, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2017
  • “Equality by Evidence: Contesting Law with Fact in Cases of Lived Social Difference” Canadian Law & Society Association Annual Meeting, University of Calgary, Faculty of Law, 2016
  • “Let’s Talk About Sexual Assault: Survivor Stories and the Law in the Post-Ghomeshi Media Discourse” Osgoode Graduate Conference, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2016
  • “Disrupting Legal Hegemonies: Law, Fact and Expert Evidence in R v JA and R v NS” Osgoode Forum, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, 2015