Administration of Criminal Justice: Justice 360

This course is designed to provide students with a unique, holistic survey of the criminal justice system from all perspectives, an appreciation that all parts of the system are interrelated, and some assessment of how effectively it contributes to a just society.

Students will hear from and engage in discussion with exceptional leaders from different parts of the justice system, including: the former Attorney General of Ontario, the former Chief of the Toronto Police Service; Judges of the Superior Court Justice and the Ontario Court of Justice; a family member of homicide victims; an offender convicted of manslaughter; a leading forensic psychiatrist; as well as prominent Crown Attorneys, defence counsel, probation and corrections officials, and representatives of the fourth estate.

Students will review selected readings covering the constellation of theory, law and policy regarding each stakeholder’s role. Each panel of speakers will provide the class with a clear idea of the theoretical role that they play in the system and how that role actually plays out “on the ground.” The class and panel will discuss what is required to close the gap between theory and practice.

Administration of Criminal Justice: Mental Illness

For the student wishing to practice criminal law, it is inevitable that they will encounter individuals with mental health issues. Studies consistently show that 1 in 5 of all Canadians will be affected by a mental illness, either personally or through a close family member. The percentage of individuals with mental health issues increases when one looks at those charged with criminal offences and those in the correctional system. Accused persons with mental health issues raise difficult and complex issues for the criminal law practitioner, whether you are a prosecutor, duty counsel, defence attorney or a judge.

This seminar will develop students’ knowledge of forensic mental health issues throughout the criminal justice system.  That objective will be achieved by enhancing students’ understanding of the nature and extent of mental illness in our society and the various legal issues that arise when a mentally disordered individual comes into contact with the criminal justice system. Students will become familiar with Part XX.1 of the Criminal Code and related sections through lectures, guest speakers and class discussion. Students will also see how these statutory provisions arise in practice through field trips (conditions permitting) to the specialized Mental Health Court at Old City Hall, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and/or the Ontario Review Board. The seminar will also afford students an opportunity to reflect critically on the various social, legal and ethical issues that arise as an individual with mental health issues goes through the criminal justice system, including the use of measures to divert persons away from or out of the criminal justice system.

Trial Advocacy

An introduction to the techniques of trial advocacy in civil and criminal trials. Consideration is given to pre-trial preparation and case analysis, opening and closing statements, examination and cross-examination of witnesses, evidence issues, expert evidence, tactical questions and ethical issues that confront the trial lawyer. Students perform simulation exercises in small groups under the critical guidance of experienced trial lawyers and Judges.  Students conduct 1/2 day jury trials with two-student counsel acting on each side of the case.  Trials are presided by Judges of either the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice.

Legal Values: Advanced Criminal Law (Race & Racism)

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.

Legal Values: Prison Law, Policy & Reform

This 3-credit seminar will utilize a multisectoral approach to encourage critical thinking with a view of challenging preconceived notions about what prison is and why it exists. It is designed to provide students with not only a basis to understand the theories underlying the carceral state, but also the practical skills necessary to navigate prison law and advocate on behalf of those on the inside.

Students will hear from and engage in discussion with prisoners, legal practitioners, prison officials, and academics with expertise in (de)carceration. Readings, videos, and audio recordings will also be used to learn about the history and ideology behind prisons and punishment in Canada.

This seminar will examine the legislation that empowers governments to create and maintain prison systems (i.e. the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Correctional Services Transformation Act), as well as the regulations, directives and policies which guide the day-to-day operations. It will also review jurisprudence from all levels of court on issues such as:
·        solitary confinement;
·        prisoners’ right to vote;
·        habeas corpus remedies;
·        tort actions and civil litigation against correctional officials;
·        international prisoner transfers;
·        conditional release;
·        prison abolition; and
·        labour (union) organizing among prisoner populations.

Independent audits, coroner’s inquests, and other inquiries into jails and prisons will also feature prominently.

Regulatory Offences

In this seminar students will learn the substantive and procedural aspects of regulatory offences, or public welfare or quasi-criminal offences as they are sometimes called. The course has a practical focus, examining matters that arise before courts, administrative tribunals, regulators and law enforcement agencies. Seminar topics will include: the classification of regulatory offences, evidence gathering techniques, the application of the Charter of Rights, and the unique nature of strict liability prosecutions, including the operation of the due diligence defence. Sentencing considerations and proposals for reform will be canvassed as well.

Law of War

Was NATO’s military intervention in Libya legal? What about Afghanistan? Or the imprisonment of America’s detainees in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba? Is Russia’s military overrun of Ukraine lawful? What is the legal status of killing by drones? What happens to people who commit war crimes? What are the remedies for an illegal war? This seminar examines the international law governing war, including both questions of when war is legal (so-called ‘jus ad bellum’) and how even legal wars must be conducted (so-called ‘jus in bello’ or the laws and customs of war) and the relationship between the two types of law. It also examines the various judicial institutions that have jurisdiction over these issues, from the World Court, to the ad hoc tribunals (Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone), to national courts exercising ‘universal jurisdiction’ (Belgium, Canada), to the new International Criminal Court.

Case studies on the armed conflicts over Kosovo, in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, Ukraine, and between Israel and the Palestinians, provide the settings for concrete legal analysis and also for critical evaluation of the role of law in war.

Law, Society & State: Cybercrime

Cybercrime is on the rise. In fact, today, it is everywhere. It dominates the news. Ransomware attacks. Data breaches. Online sexual violence offences. Digital hate speech. Even our social media is now flooded with conduct that is arguably criminal. Consider the mocking Johnny Depp/Amber Heard TikTok videos, for example.

The law is playing catch up in this area, as judges, practitioners, and policymakers struggle to come to grips with how to best deal with the problem. As a result, some of the most challenging and interesting developments in our legal system now arise in the context of crimes committed via the Internet and computers.

This seminar will explore the legal and policy challenges presented by our online digital world. No prior knowledge of the subject matter is required. We will start with the basics and then move toward an advanced study of cyber-related law and procedure, focusing on how it ought to apply in the digital world. We’ll ask: “What is cybercrime?” What types of conduct ought to be criminalized? We’ll explore some of the key variants of offences that come up time and again, such as hacking and phishing, ransomware, and data theft. We’ll do a deep dive on cryptocurrency. We’ll look at the jurisdictional challenges created by crimes that run across national borders. We’ll look at the ways in which cybercrime differs from traditional crimes and the challenges it poses for law enforcement. And perhaps most importantly, we will devote a significant amount of time to exploring how the criminal law and policy concepts that you learned about in first year might be adapted to apply in the cyber context. Examples include: considering our expectations of privacy in the digital age; the application of traditional search and seizure concepts to online police work such as taking over Gmail accounts or acquiring a target’s Facebook messages; the right against self-incrimination and right to counsel when it comes to compelling passwords or forced biometric scans; regulating online speech; prohibiting ransom payments; allowing officers to pose online as sex trafficking victims to capture would-be online predators; monitoring and criminalizing the online distribution of intimate images; etc. In short: We’ll have a broad, discussion-based seminar in which we chat about the unique problems posed by this emerging area of the law and how society might choose to deal with them.

Administration of Criminal Justice: Wrongful Conviction

It has been said that wrongful convictions are a triple failure of the justice system because an innocent person is wronged, a guilty person remains unaccountable, and the victim’s loved ones must contend with having blamed the wrong person. It is all but impossible to determine the precise number of wrongful convictions that occur in Canada for many reasons, but there are some indicators: to date, Innocence Canada has successfully exonerated 24 people; in the U.S., the National Registry of Exonerations currently lists 3,166 exonerations since 1989.

This course will explore both the causes of wrongful convictions and the various remedial approaches adopted by different jurisdictions, as well as safeguards put in place to attenuate the risk of wrongful convictions. In particular, you will study the following leading causes of wrongful convictions: adversarial excess, police and prosecutorial misconduct, tunnel vision, inadequate disclosure, frail identification evidence, false confessions, jailhouse informants, inadequate defence, and faulty forensic testing and junk science.

With respect to remedial options, you will learn about how Canadian exonerations are achieved through section s.696.1 of the Criminal Code. In addition, this course will examine the findings and recommendations of the various Canadian Commissions of Inquiry designed to explain and analyze the causes of a wrongful conviction in particular cases.

Law & Social Change: Policing

This course will examine the legal framework governing police powers and duties; police use of force; the legal treatment of excessive force and the abuse of police power; the litigation of these issues in the criminal, civil, and workplace contexts; and police oversight. The course will examine issues concerning police conduct and misconduct in the context of questions about the relationship(s) between law, law enforcement,  and social change.  We will use recent policing related Inquiries/Reports to critically examine contemporary relationships between the police and the community, police and politics, police and lawyers/ legislation/ and the wider legal process. Finally, the course will focus on a number of legal strategies that have been used more or less successfully to change or reform police-community relations and police accountability.