Judicial Decisions in Wife Assault Cases in Ontario: 1970-2000

Diane Crocker, Saint Mary's University

ABSTRACT
This paper presents the findings of a research project that explored judicial decisions in cases of wife assault. Data were drawn from Quick Law- a data base of Canadian legal decisions. Over 300 cases, covering 1970-2000 were analyzed. This paper describes the cases, the types of sentences that were delivered and the general tone of the decisions. The research reveals that much has changed in 30 years. The judicial decisions clearly reflect changes in social norms surrounding wife assault. In more recent decisions, the sentences are harsher and the tone is more condemming. Having said that, this research also reveals that sexist presumptions linger in very subtle ways. The paper provides examples and argues that we must look under the layers of discourse revealed in judicial decisions.

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Updated 05/20/2006