The Trial of Steven Truscott – How Little has Changed since 1959

“And with the greatest respect, my lord, I submit that the jury listening to your charge could not help but get the impression that you consider a verdict of guilty was warranted on the evidence,” Steven’s lawyer said. It was as close to calling a judge biased as a lawyer could go. The judge’s five-word …

“What Worries Me (Most) About Sexual Assault Prosecutions”

I recently watched OsgoodePD’s 2021 Symposium on Sexual Assault available here – not inexpensive, but quite worthwhile. I enjoyed most of it. My favourite part was by far the “debate” between Professor Melanie Randall (“Randall”) and Alan Gold. Randall is a law professor out of Western, and Gold is a legendary criminal defence lawyer (and …

The Presumption of Guilt in Sexual Offence Trials in Canada

We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people. ― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.] I’ve been watching excellent seminars from Professor Sankoff recently. As always, incredible quality and …

Articles on rape myths, etc.

Given the recent awareness of wrongful convictions (triggered by the recent discovery of who the likely perpetrator was in the wrongful conviction case of Guy Morin), I thought I’d have a look at articles about sexual assault. I’ve recently been able to access criminal law articles through WestLaw. I’m excited to read many articles I’ve …

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

However, this great, impersonal awesome machinery has one built-in bias. It is an unconscious, functional bias, somewhat like an aircraft’s bias for leaving the ground as soon as it has attained a certain speed. The bias of the justice system is to find guilt. That is, first, to define any human act that comes to …

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 …

“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 …

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 …