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PSI Professor Work Cited at Supreme Court

Tags: November 2022, Vol. 3, Issue 1

Professor Kerry Watkins, of the Protection, Security and Investigation program, had his 2016 article from Criminal Law Quarterly, called “The vulnerability of Aboriginal suspects when questioned by police: Mitigating risk and maximizing the reliability of statement evidence” cited twice in a Supreme Court of Canada decision.

The case was a R v LaFrance, 2022 SCC 32; a murder case that involved the confession the accused, of a 19-year-old Indigenous person, and his right to consult legal counsel. This individual was given a second opportunity to consult legal counsel, when it is usual protocol to only have one opportunity.

Professor Watkins was cited twice. The first time in paragraph 58 stating that not all Indigenous suspects will be vulnerable, at all or in the same way, when interacting with police.

The second time in paragraph 87 noting that investigating officers and reviewing courts should be aware of the pronounced power imbalance that arises from the unique, historical vulnerability of Indigenous people in their encounters with the criminal justice system.

This citation illustrates how current, or former criminal justice practitioners (who may not be lawyers) can contribute to the evolution of jurisprudence. Kerry hopes that his citation encourages other practitioners to add their voices to the ongoing legal discourse.

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