Brooks-Craig Abstract

Dr. Elaine Brooks-Craig

Topic: Sexual Assault Law, Ethical Lawyering, and the Judicial Process t.b.c

Abstract: Despite decades of progressive law reform in Canada reporting rates have not improved, and sexual assault complainants continue to describe their experience of the criminal justice system as traumatic. How can such positive changes to the law of sexual assault have so little impact? The answer is complicated. But we do know that both legal process and the legal profession itself have contributed to this “justice gap” between improvements to the law of sexual assault and the negative experiences of many of those who turn to the criminal justice system following an incident or incidents of sexual assault. In this discussion we will consider examples of how the legal profession contributes to this gap. We will also examine how legal process, through the rituals of the trial, contributes to the traumatic experience of those who allege sexual assault. Many of these rituals are hierarchical, requiring complainants to perform subordinate roles that mirror the gender, race, and socio-economic status based societal hierarchies in which the problem of sexual violence is rooted.