Criminal Law

Defining legal proceedings

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My research into the substantive criminal law looks at a variety of matters. I am particularly interested in the way in which mental elements are defined, and the manner in which Canadian law uses these elements as a limiting feature for substantive liability.

Another objective for me is to reduce the complexity in the way in which criminal offences are defined and make the criminal law more accessible to the Canadian public. Part of this is why I provide commentary and video explanations of major Canadian trials. For the public to have confidence in the system, it needs to understand how that system works, and “de-coding” what is happening in major trials can help make the justice system more understandable to all.

My latest video

  • Richard Suter at the Supreme Court

News and updates

Making Sense of Mens Rea:

Still in the planning stages, this project will involve multi-media (e-book and/or podcasts) to provide a “simplification” of the Canadian approach to proof of mental elements in Criminal Law. The paper will be designed to identify: what makes mens rea so complex and how can it be simplified in theoretical and practical terms for law students and lawyers.

Pending Criminal Law article

We Should Probably Take a Look at That! The Procedure of Taking a View in Criminal Proceedings
Though it is by no means a common procedure, a criminal trial court possesses the discretion to permit the trier of fact to leave the courtroom in order to view any place, thing or person, albeit under controlled conditions. The act of “taking a view” amounts to precisely what it sounds like: a visual examination of a place, thing or person, without commentary or testimony …more


A very satisfying day!

A comprehensive treatise on Canadian Criminal law, this entirely revamped work addresses both the foundational principles of the criminal law and the offences in the Criminal Code, as well as defences and some procedural matters. …more

Useful websites

Bleaching Law
Craig Forcese’s blog on teaching law.  He shares my view on flipped classrooms and has plenty to say about them.

The Court
Great initiative from Osgoode Hall Law School that allows students to write blogs about the Supreme Court of Canada.

CrimProf Multipedia
Cool initiative from two profs at Oklahoma University, designed to provide a host of freely available media tools to anyone teaching criminal law or procedure

Hearsay Exceptions
Everything you ever wanted to know about the res gestae exception – done with Lego!

How to Be the World’s Best Law Student
Superb video from Warren Binford of Willamette University with 8 tips on how to become a great law student. I have a minor quibble with Tip #1 (I do not tell students to put computers away, especially in my flipped classroom), but the rest are pretty golden – especially Tip #7 (adopt a Prof).

How to Flip Without a Flop
A Video seminar of a talk on flipping the classroom with Craig Forcese filmed at the University of Ottawa on October 8, 2013.

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning
What a resource!  Loaded with great ideas and information about law teaching.

Mohsen al-Attar
The web page of my friend and former colleague Mohsen al-Attar of Queens University Belfast.

The Solution
A wonderful blog I had a part in establishing, run by two former students from New Zealand. It is the last remnant of the law school group SOLVE, formed in 2009.  A number of my blog entries from 2009-2010 are posted there.

University of Alberta Blog
This is the Faculty’s blog on legal issues, where I occasionally contribute.