Emma Cunliffe (UBC Law) at the IFLS January 8 2016, 1230-2
RSVP at bit.ly/osresearch, use event code Emma (or click through the image below and use event code Emma)
R. v Barton & the Death of Cindy Gladue
In March 2015, Bradley Barton was acquitted of murder in relation to the death of Cindy Gladue. Gladue was a Métis mother who bled to death in the bathroom of an Edmonton hotel, allegedly while Barton slept. Barton testified that her wounds had been caused by consensual ‘rough sex’. The forensic pathologist called by the Crown at Barton’s murder trial invited the jury to inspect Gladue’s preserved body tissue in order to reach their own conclusions about how her injuries were caused. (R v Barton, 2015 ABQB 159.) When the acquittal was reported, Indigenous communities, women’s advocates and others responded with anger and dismay. The trial judge’s decision to allow the pathologist to introduce Gladue’s body tissue became a particular focus of disapprobation (eg Sampert, 2015; Cormier, 2015).
This talk will investigate whether expert evidence and legal conceptions of expertise function as Trojan Horses by which discriminatory stereotypes and implicit bias find purchase within Canadian legal processes regarding gendered violence. In particular, Dr. Cunliffe will consider whether the failure of legal processes to respond adequately to gendered violence is partly produced by legal conventions and expert opinions that undermine Charter commitments to fair and egalitarian fact determination.
Emma Cunliffe is an associate professor at UBC’s Allard School of Law. Her research analyses the fact determination functions of courts, and particularly addresses expert scientific and medical evidence, the role of implicit stereotypes and bias in the criminal justice system, and the principles of open justice. Emma has received the Killam Prize for Teaching Excellence and the George Curtis Memorial Award for Teaching. At UBC, she teaches evidence, criminal law, jurisprudence and interdisciplinary research methodologies. Emma’s last visit to York was for the SLST series in 2014, when she talked Women and Wrongful Convictions.
Private Murder, Public Pressure
by Terrine Friday (Osgoode SJD program)
Is homicide a private matter?
The RCMP called the Sept. 10 killing of Shirley Parkinson a “private matter,” and refused to release information about the manner of her death, although they have evidence that her husband killed her before taking his own life.
According to reports, Parkinson, 56, was killed by her husband Donald, 60, before he took his own life on the couple’s farm near Unity, Saskatchewan last month. The victim was a “well-known public health nurse” who worked with women and children in her community.
The RCMP did not, initially, release the fact that Shirley Parkinson was murdered – apparently to respect the family’s wishes. Saskatchewan journalists are now calling on the RCMP to release pertinent information about their investigation.
At first glance this raises the issue of how to balance the public interest and the family’s wish for privacy. There may be some other reason why the RCMP would prefer to keep the case files closed to the public or why the wishes of the next of kin should be respected in this case. But the RCMP’s use of the Privacy Act to keep all specifics from the public, and their suggestion that the family context of this killing rendered it “private” are highly problematic. My own research considers the complicated questions raised in access to information disputes, and focuses on the use of exceptions provided in the legislation to keep data out of the hands of journalists, researchers and the public.
Information about the homicide/suicide in Unity could serve to break the relative silence about domestic abuse, especially amongst older adults. A 2007 clinical study by Sonia Salari, an expert on population aging and social interaction, reveals “[l]ater life intimate partner homicide suicide (IPHS) represents the most severe form of domestic partner abuse and usually results in at least two deaths.” The study shows 96 percent of perpetrators are men and suicide was the primary intent in 74 percent of cases analyzed. A troubling finding is that any history of domestic violence was known to others in only 14 percent of cases. This research, as much as other arguments about transparency, accountability and the salience of the public private divide should lead us to question whether privacy is really the right approach to domestic abuse amongst the aging – or any other sector of society.
Grad students with guest post ideas related to their projects should get in touch with Sonia Lawrence, Osgoode Rm 3026