Evidence (Trask)

Course Number:
Course Description:

This course is intended to provide students with a general overview of the key principles and concepts with regard to the law of evidence. Effective advocacy relates in almost all cases to evidence. Therefore, an understanding of the law of evidence is vital to the practice of law—in any jurisdiction or field.

This is an introductory course and, as such, does not aim to provide a comprehensive examination of all aspects of the law of evidence. After all, the law of evidence is complex and continually evolving. However, by the end of this course, students will have been provided with an opportunity to learn the basic rules, practices, and concepts underpinning the use of evidence in court and will have been taught how to think about evidentiary principles so that they can best comprehend, adapt to, and advocate within a system that is sure to change greatly throughout their careers. (At points in the course, we will also examine how evidentiary rules could develop in the future.)

This course begins by reviewing vital foundational concepts and principles (including a discussion about relevance, standards, and burdens). We will then proceed to examine the following topics: hearsay (including the many exceptions to the hearsay rule); privileges, protections, and immunities, as well as disclosure issues; confessions, voluntariness, and self-incrimination issues; improperly obtained evidence; character evidence and related concepts, similar fact evidence, and post-offence conduct; opinion evidence and the use of experts; examining witnesses in court; and tendering real evidence in court.

Teaching Method:

Interactive class lectures will focus on the assigned readings as well as overall key concepts. Class discussion (including the asking of questions) is essential to effective learning in this class.


3-Hour Final Exam [Open book]: 80%
UM Learn Discussion Posts: 10%
Participation—Attendance: 5%
Participation—In-Class Contribution: 5%

Course Materials:

Mandatory text: David M Paciocco, Palma Paciocco & Lee Stuesser, The Law of Evidence (8th ed) (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2020)
Supplementary readings will be made available through UM Learn. (Please note that it is the responsibility of students to check for updates to the course portal at least twice weekly.)