Evidence and Forensics - Teaching Resources

Evidence and Forensics
Teaching Resources – Following the Case

How can we analyse the case on the basis of the evidence presented in court and recounted in the media? Only those in the courtroom will be able to determine whether the evidence is valid, whether it has been properly gathered, identified, analysed and preserved. Most of us will have to depend on the judge and jurors to make that assessment. We will have to rely on media reports and eventually court reports. Until then we need to listen to broadcast and read newspaper reports in order to process as much of the detail as possible to come to our own decisions in the case. In an editorial passage found on the Sun’s website on the case at http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/features/pickton/index.html Patricia Graham the Sun’s Editor-In Chief writes a letter describing the strategy that the newspaper will take when reporting on the case.

Students might be asked to follow the reporting for a week or two – usually found in the “Westcoast News” section of The Sun and on-line at the above address to determine how the newspaper is delivering on this commitment. The following questions might be raised in class to get students thinking about the justice system and how it serves Canadians.

  • The Sun has featured many stories of the victims in this case – does that kind of reporting prejudice the case against the accused?
  • Find out how the jury members were selected and suggest how they might remain neutral in the face of such widespread coverage of the crimes, victims and the trial?
  • Do you think from what you know so far, that the accused’s Charter rights have been violated? Check out Sections 7-15 of the Charter (fundamental legal rights) and recall the interview process that took place shortly after his arrest, the tapes of which were played in court.
  • The forensic evidence against the accused is piling up? What does the judge have to do to ensure that the trial remains a fair and impartial hearing of the case? Why should we reserve judgment until the end of the trial? •How do you think the defence will serve the interests of the accused?
  • Do you think it is appropriate to spend enormous amounts of money to protect the rights of the accused in this case? Discuss the implications of the phrase, “Everyone has the right to a fair trial.