‘Legal knowledge’ and ‘knowing’ in in the courtroom, often referred to as the law of evidence, has undergone radical transformation over the last ten years. 2019 marks the ten year anniversary of the landmark case of R v Grant, which reoriented the test for exclusion of evidence at trial due to the state’s Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms breaches as a balancing act in which the seriousness of the state conduct is measured, and on which the impact on the protected interest of accused persons were used to assess whether evidence should be excluded or included in a trial based on society’s interests in the adjudication of the merits of the criminal matter. What does the conception of knowledge mean in modern criminal legal proceedings? How has knowing and constructing criminal responsibility changed in the legal context over the last ten years in light of changes in evidence law, conceptions of vulnerability and enhanced digital and informational connectivity? How do we visualize criminality in the information age? This conference aims to discuss and unpack these questions.
Most persons resident in Canada understand that to be found criminally responsible when accused of a criminal offence, the Crown must prove the physical and mental elements of the offence against an accused person beyond a reasonable doubt. The corpus of that assessment is based on documents, testimony, objects and items that are admitted into the proceedings. Their relevance, materiality and inculpatory and exculpatory nature must be weighed and assessed. Unparalleled connectivity, state surveillance capabilities, Canada’s commitment to truth and reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and anxieties pertaining to large scale security calamities (like terror events) have altered the landscape in which crime is investigated, and in which evidence is subsequently discovered, and admitted. The discovery of evidence and its admission at trial are the building blocks of legal knowledge in the investigative and trial processes, and changes in these processes could well have dramatic effects in respect of the construction of criminal responsibility.
We welcome scholars, students and practitioners of criminal law (lawyers and judges) together for this conference about the latest knowledge developments in the criminal law and cognate disciplines.
More details to come.