Research and writing

My accomplishments

Key areas of focus

I have concentrated most of my research and writing on five main areas. These are:

  • Law of evidence
  • Substantive criminal law and the criminal justice process
  • Animal law
  • Legal education
  • Constitutional law
Evidence law

My most significant and long-running interest relates to the law of evidence, in all its forms.

My recent research concentrates on two issues in particular: the validity of various hearsay reforms, and a concern about the “principled” approach to evidentiary admissibility, where I have attempted to question the argument that this approach automatically leads to better and more accurate decision making.

In this area, I advocate the need for long-term study of results and periodic review of theoretical foundations to ensure that the “principle” continues to remain an important aspect of the discretionary exercise.

Criminal law, criminal justice and the adversarial process

My research on criminal justice and the adversarial process focuses upon the criminal trial and how its framework creates structural impediments to the interests of “outsiders” who wish to participate in the pursuit of justice.

My concern particularly lies with the treatment of victims, and how long established barriers premised on an outdated vision of criminal justice are used to inhibit legislative initiatives designed to ameliorate the needs of those who suffer most visibly from criminal activities. I am also writing a book on the substantive principles of criminal law.

Animals and the law

The relationship between animals and the law, and particularly the manner in which the law attempts to protect animals from harm by creating criminal sanctions, is a more recent area of interest for me.

While I am interested in all aspects of this area of law, my research focuses primarily on three matters:

1) the inefficacy of the criminal sanction as a manner for protecting animals from harm;

2) the government’s use of criminal sanctions as a means of avoiding tough questions about how animals should be treated, and

3) the lack of any remedial options for animal advocacy groups under a welfare regime.

Legal education

My most recent area of research interest is legal education. The focus of my research is primarily concentrated on the way in which students learn, and my efforts to look at new ways to engage today’s law students.

In particular, I have begun researching the use of the “flipped classroom” in the law school context for the purpose of understanding whether this technique has the potential to be beneficial for the Millenial generation of students.

Constitutional (human rights) law in the criminal context

A primary focus of my early research career, I am writing less often in this area today. Most of my early work concentrated on s.8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights, and the protection against unreasonable search and seizure, but I have also published articles on a number of topics relating to the defendant’s right to a fair trial, and the judicial role in ensuring that constitutional norms are respected.

Constitutional (human rights) law and remedies

While I am no longer writing in this area, it was the dominant focus of my research between 1996-2003. I have long had an interest in constitutional remedies, and the difficult task a court faces when it concludes that a particular state action or law conflicts with a constitutional imperative.

While I considered a number of issues, my primary focus was narrowed to two aspects of the remedial dilemma:

1) How should a court approach the decision to exclude evidence from a criminal or civil trial subsequent to a constitutional violation by a state actor?, and,

2) How should the courts approach statutes which have the possibility of being constitutionally infirm in a relatively small number of cases?

My research considered the first issue in both the Canadian and New Zealand context, while the second was restricted to examination of the Canadian Charter of Rights, and the constitutional exemption doctrine.

Writing and researching

I have been writing books and publishing articles on a variety of law subjects since 1996 and have been honoured to have some of my work published in numerous of the world’s most distinguished journals including the Queen’s Law Journal, the University of British Columbia Law Review, the Criminal Law Quarterly, the New Zealand Law Review and the Animal Law Review.

I am also the author, co-author or co-editor of various books, including:

Witnesses (1991-current)

Canada’s leading treatise on the substantive, evidentiary and procedural law relating to witnesses.

Animal Law in Australasia: Continuing the Dialogue (2013)

An entirely revised edition covering new issues concerning the treatment of animals under the law.

Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law (2015)

The first collection of essays ever produced in Canada to explore the legal relationship between animals and humans.

Manning, Mewett and Sankoff on Criminal Law (4th ed. 2009, 5th ed. 2015)

A thorough treatise on Canadian criminal law

Portable Guide to Witnesses (1st ed. 2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014)

A condensed version of the larger work to be used by practitioners in court.

Evidence Act Revisited for Criminal Lawyers (New Zealand, 2010)

A comprehensive monograph analyzing the first two years of jurisprudence decided under the Evidence Act 2006.

Animal Law in Australasia: A New Dialogue (2009)

The first scholarly treatise on animal law published in the Southern Hemisphere.

Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (2011)

Evidence for Thomson Reuters Canada.

Celebrating the release of Animals and the Law with Katie Sykes and Justice Louis LeBel in Toronto (2015).
Michael Kirby, Bruce Wagman (ALDF) and Steven White join me at the Australian book launch of Animal Law in Australasia.
Australian Launch of Animal Law in Australasia with High Court judge Michael Kirby, Voiceless CEO Brian Sherman, Co-editor Steven White and Voiceless Counsel Katrina Sharman.

Roles of responsibility

I hold editorial or advisory board positions of the following journals:

  • Canadian Criminal Law Review
  • Journal of Animal Law and Natural Resources, Michigan State
  • Global Journal of Animal Law, Abo Akademi University, Finland