Sexual assault trials require a delicate balancing of competing rights in an evolving social context. They raise difficult questions about the use of appropriate inferences vs. inappropriate myths and stereotypes, consent and mistaken belief in consent, third party records, prior sexual experience evidence and sufficiency of reasons. Appellate courts reviewing these cases have an equally challenging set of issues to contend with. This program explored these difficult questions from the unique appellate perspective.
The objectives of this seminar were to enhance participants’ awareness of the myths and stereotypes about sexual assault that can creep in at the trial level, and develop practical skills regarding the assessment of witness credibility, the admissibility of third-party records, and the appropriate boundaries of judicial intervention.
Led by experienced judges, and legal academics, participants explored the ways in sexual assault myths impact evidence. Using a variety of presentations, panel discussions and practical exercises, participants were given the opportunity to develop their skills in admissibility of evidence in sexual assault trials. At the conclusion of the seminar, participants also had an opportunity to discuss issues related to how appellate judges do their jobs, in particular, collective decision-making.