Prior consistent statements, bad character, s. 276, rape myths and conviction rates

I thought I’d address some common problems in litigation of sexual offence charges. The most common problems, I’d suggest, are prior consistent statements, bad character evidence, and a presumption of truthfulness (explicitly stated or otherwise) being ascribed to the complainant. I’ll discuss these – along with concerns about s. 276 and conviction rates – below. […]

Presumption of Guilt: Edward L. Greenspan Q.C.’s “The Case for the Defence” – 1987

The concept of the “presumption of guilt” is one that I was introduced to by reading Hersh Wolch Q.C.’s excellent lecture in “Counsel for the Defence: The Bernard Cohn Memorial Lectures in Criminal Law” (Amazon). Wolch argues that, despite the theory of a presumption of innocence, in practice, it usually operates more like a presumption […]

More Recent Wrongful Sexual Assault Convictions

In R v ADG, 2015 ABCA 149 (CanLII), a sex assault acquittal was overturned (surprisingly, the ABCA didn’t “fossick guilt from a fact-driven acquittal”, to borrow the glorious prose of McClung J.A. in R. v. Ewanchuk, 1998 ABCA 52 (CanLII) at para. 9). This was due to a reliance on rape myths by the lower court […]

Progressive, eh? A review of Professor Sankoff’s s. 276 seminar

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are my own. Specific attacks against other academics are also entirely my own.  I’ve greatly enjoyed Professor Sankoff’s seminars recently – both his free Youtube videos and his affordable (approx. $25 per seminar) online seminars. I watched his s. 276 webinar the other day (part 1 only), and my mind […]

Recent Complaints Regarding Treatment of Inmates at Calgary Remand Centre

I have been made aware of numerous complaints about Calgary Remand Centre staff and administration over the last week. None of it surprises me. The Centre is quite easily one of the worst remand centres in Canada in terms of how it treats its inmates, although it’s received little media attention compared to detention centres […]

“Whack” Defence Lawyers No More: Infusing Ethics into the Academic Dialogue Around Sexual Assault Trials in Canada

Following up on my recent posts about Ewanchuk and Professor Elaine Craig’s horrendous book, I noticed a lot of ideas tracing their way to a respected law professor out of the University of Windsor – David Tanovich. He appears to be a part of a group of academics – whom I’ll call “the #Me Too […]

Racism, Credibility, Reasoning Pitfalls, and why I need to spend less time on Twitter

I got into a Twitter spat last week. I noticed a lawyer calling out the Canadian judicial system for its apparent racial bias in a 1997 decision. I had a quick look at the case, and thought it was a weak claim. I tried to challenge the claim on Twitter, and met with a whole […]

The Worst Case in Canadian Judicial History: R. v. Ewanchuk, 1999 CanLII 711 (SCC)

With extra time on my hands during this COVID era, I found myself looking up some horrendous U.S. Supreme Court decisions. I started with this list: Dred Scott v. Sanford(1857): Hands down the worst Supreme Court decision ever, Dred Scott held that African Americans, whether free men or slaves, could not be considered American citizens. The ruling undid […]

Some Clarity on Starting Point Sentences: The SCC in R. v. Friesen, 2020 SCC 9 (CanLII)

This will be a fairly long post (approximately 8 pages). I’ll begin with the background to the Supreme Court of Canada’s latest pronouncement on starting point sentences in Friesen, using Alberta cases such as Hajar, Arcand, Gashikanyi, Godfrey and Parranto, as well as the SCC case of Lacasse. I’ll then discuss the effects of the […]