I'm a law professor at the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law specializing in criminal law, constitutional law and international law.
I teach, research and advocate to bring a compassionate, evidence-based approach to pressing criminal justice issues like the treatment of victim of crime and offenders, the opioid crisis and reimagining criminal justice.
I joined UBC in 2007 and have taught Criminal Law & Procedure, Evidence, International Criminal Law, Legal Theory, and Indigenous-Settler Legal Relations (in response to Truth and Reconciliation Commission Call to Action No. 28).
My books include Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada’s Opioid Crisis (Penguin Random House, 2022) and Victim Law: The Law of Victims of Crime in Canada (Thomson Carswell, 2017). My current project on “Reimagining Criminal Justice” is funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia and UBC's Hampton Research Fund. My next book, Indictment: The Criminal Justice System on Trial will be out Fall 2023.
As a youth, I volunteered at a centre for victims of domestic violence in Calgary. My law degrees are from the University of Toronto and McGill University. As a law student, I represented people in court who used substances, had mental health disorders and were experiencing poverty and racism in downtown Toronto. After graduating, I worked for judges in The Hague, Netherlands in war crimes and crimes against humanity trials.
Prior to joining UBC, I served as a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada, and was in-house legal counsel and lead justice and public safety advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper from 2012-13. In case you can't tell yet, I don't agree with those "tough on crime" policies anymore. I'm a member (currently non-practising) of the Law Society of BC.
Another important part of my experience is my lived experience. In recent years, I was confronted with childhood and intergenerational trauma, addiction, mental health challenges, and disability in the lives of people close to me and my own. In this journey, I found freedom and peace in Jesus Christ. We're all on a journey and I still have a lot to learn.
Changes in my heart have meant that my research has increasingly focussed in recent years on people our society treats poorly and unjustly, including victims of crime, people who use drugs, people with mental health disorders, people experiencing poverty and homelessness, people who are incarcerated as well as Indigenous, Black and people of colour.