Evidence

This course is an introduction to the law of evidence. What is evidence? When is evidence admissible? How does it get admitted? In this course, we will learn about the specific rules that apply to many categories of evidence, like hearsay, expert opinions, and privilege. But we will also learn about the general principles that inform the overall structure of our rules of evidence, and the common sense assumptions that underlie them. We will see what happens to the rules when those assumptions are challenged or proven untrue, the role Parliament has played in efforts to reform the rules of evidence, and the balance the court has struck between competing interests in light of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Evidence

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.

Criminal Law II: Sexual Offences

This advanced criminal law class examines legal issues that commonly arise in relation to criminal sexual offences.  Topics will include:  consent and mistaken belief in consent;  failure to disclose HIV+ status;  access to the complainant’s counselling and other records; the use of text messages and other private records in cross-examination; admissibility of evidence of the complainant’s prior sexual history;  prior complaint and recent fabrication;  admissibility of similar fact evidence;  child pornography and obscenity;  sex offender registry/ community notification provisions; and forensic psychiatric evidence.

Criminal Procedure

This course will provide students with an overview of the Canadian criminal process. It will begin with an exploration of police investigative powers. The authority of Canadian police to detain, search/seize, question and arrest will all be considered in detail. Special attention will be given to the limitations imposed on each of these powers by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The exclusion of unconstitutionally obtained evidence under the Charter, as well as the availability of other constitutional remedies, will also be addressed. The course will then shift to a consideration of the criminal process after charges are formally brought, including intake procedures, bail, disclosure (the effects of non-disclosure and/or lost evidence), election and plea, preliminary inquiries, the right to trial within a reasonable time and plea-bargaining. The course will then focus on the trial, including trial venue, jury selection and trial procedure. This will be followed by an overview of the law of sentencing, and a brief consideration of appeals.

Evidence

This course is an introduction to criminal and civil evidence law in Canada. Among the topics considered in the course are the following: understanding the law of evidence as law’s particular “way of knowing”; the substantive law of evidence, including basic concepts such as relevance and admissibility, exclusionary rules based on unreliability and prejudicial effects, exclusionary rules based on policy rationales, and other aspects of proof; the way that the laws of evidence work in trial practice, as well as the historical, social, political, and legal context in which they operate; the relationship between the laws of evidence and social justice, in particular the impact of the law of evidence on gender issues and Aboriginal justice; ethical issues in the law of evidence; and the effect of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms upon the law of evidence.

Evidence

This course will examine the basic rules and principles of evidence law in Canada, and the impact of constitutional principles and constraints. The course will also examine some of the philosophical underpinnings on which judges and legislators rely when they develop and apply rules of evidence.  Students will learn how to reason about evidence, and will be encouraged to reflect critically on the modern law of criminal evidence.

Criminal Procedure

This course will provide students with an overview of the Canadian criminal process, with a special attention given to the limitations imposed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It will begin with an exploration of police investigative powers. The authority of Canadian police to search/seize, question, detain, and arrest will all be considered in detail. The exclusion of unconstitutionally obtained evidence, as well as the availability of other constitutional remedies, will also be addressed. The course will then shift to a consideration of the criminal process after charges are formally brought, including intake procedures, bail, disclosure, plea, plea bargaining, prosecutorial discretion, and the right to a trial within a reasonable time. If time allows, some trial and post-trial issues may be considered, including jury selection, res judicata, and appeals. Throughout, various theoretical perspectives on criminal law and process will be discussed. The course will also seek to introduce key historical connections and important points of comparison between criminal procedure in Canada and the United States, primarily in terms of their constitutional regulation, as well as with the common law of England.