This program focused on the law and social context of sexual assault trials.
The objectives of this seminar were to help judicial participants manage sexual assault trials with an improved awareness of the social context and the state of the law. Judges participating in this program examined key myths and stereotypes recognized by appellate courts and Parliament; developed skills to ensure their decisions are supported by an understanding of the social context of sexual assault and improved their skills with reference to pre-trial motions, trial management and assessing credibility.
Led by experienced senior judges and a legal academic, the seminar used lectures and interactive sessions of case studies and scenarios. Participants fully explored the following topics: the complexities and challenges of sexual assault laws which reflect changing societal attitudes and contemporary knowledge; the complicated history of sexual assault laws in Canada and recent data on the phenomenon of sexual assault; how judges can take social context into account; rape myths and stereotypes in sexual assault cases; consent and mistaken belief; evidence and prior sexual history; assessing credibility; judgment and giving adequate reasons; and courtroom management.