The law of evidence occupies a distinctive position in the administration of criminal justice. Neither substantive nor procedural, principles of evidence translate raw information and experience into juridical fact, shaping the stories that serve as the basis for judgments about guilt and blame. This course builds upon basic knowledge of the laws of criminal evidence, seeking to expose and assess the deeper tensions, trends, and problematics that animate this fascinating element of the criminal justice system. Students will encounter these deeper issues by placing the contemporary law of evidence in the arc of its historical development, by seeking to understand Canadian evidence law in comparative perspective, by means of sustained attention to the theoretical problems that afflict questions of proof and "knowing" in a trial context, and through attention to the way that power and social justice are implicated in evidentiary issues. With these perspectives in hand, the course will examine pressing contemporary issues in the law of evidence, including the role and use of scientific evidence; the problem of wrongful convictions; the assessment of credibility; and proof in crimes involving violence against women and children.
Video conference only
Course Section: A