Elizabeth Sheehy

Carte électronique

Elizabeth Sheehy
Professeure émérite


Pièce : 57 Louis Pasteur, pièce 364
Bureau : 613-562-5800 poste 3317
Courriel professionnel : Elizabeth.Sheehy@uOttawa.ca

portrait, Elizabeth Sheehy


Elizabeth Sheehy holds an LL.B. (Osgoode 1981), an LL.M. (Columbia 1984), and an LL.D. (Honoris causa) (Law Society of Upper Canada 2005). She started teaching at the University of Ottawa in 1984 and has been a Full Professor since 1995. She currently holds the Shirley Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession (2013-15) and previously held the Chair when it was first established (2002-04). In 2013 she was awarded the Roman John Hnatyshyn Award for Law, by the Canadian Bar Association, and in 2014 she was welcomed as a new member of the Royal Society of Canada. Professor Sheehy is a member of the University Task Force on Respect and Equality.

Click here to view Prof. Sheehy's SSRN page.


Professor Sheehy teaches Criminal Law and Procedure, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Sexual Assault Law, and Defending Battered Women on Trial. She has been a Visiting Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, the University of New South Wales, Faculty of Law, Sydney University, Faculty of Law, Queensland University of Technology, Faculty of Law, and the University of Auckland, Faculty of Law. She has also participated in various educational programs for the Canadian Judicial Institute on topics such as sexual assault, wife assault, and women and girls in the justice system. In 1999 Professor Sheehy received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Common Law Students’ Society at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

Professional Activities

Professor Sheehy has been a Member of the Law Society of Upper Canada since 1987. She was co-counsel for the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) in its intervention in R v JA (“advance consent” to sexual assault) (2011 SCC 28) and participated on the legal subcommittee for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) and LEAF in R v Ryan (2013 SCC 3), R v NS (the “niqab” case) (2012 SCC 72) and R v Ewanchuk (“implied consent” and sexual assault) (SCC 1999). She has participated in legal work on the Jane Doe litigation (ONCJ 1998) and the legal intervention by Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter in the Bonnie Mooney litigation against the AG of BC (BCCA 2004). She has also presented legal briefs before governmental committees, for example on behalf of the National Association of Women and the Law with respect to Bill B-72, (Extreme Intoxication).

Most recently in 2009 she appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs regarding Bill C-15 (Mandatory Minimum Sentences)(see Publications below). Professor Sheehy is involved in many other law reform activities around equality rights and social justice issues: she has worked in a consultative capacity with the Department of Justice on the reform of criminal law (Preliminary Inquiries, Provocation, Self-Defence, Extreme Intoxication, Disclosure of Women’s Confidential Records), with the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies on Judge Lynn Ratushny's Self-Defence Review, through the Policy Implementation Assistance Program (CIDA) and the Social Affairs Committee of the Vietnam National Assembly on itsGender Equality Law, with the African Canadian Legal Clinic on its intervention in R v Golden (strip searches) (SCC 2001) and R v Nur (challenge to mandatory minimum sentences) (2011 ONSC 4874), with The Equality Effect on its women’s rights project aimed at criminalizing marital rape in three African countries.

In 2009 she convened the first national conference in Canada on sexual assault law, entitled Sexual Assault Law, Practice and Activism in a Post-Jane Doe Era, featuring 70 speakers from across Canada as well as New Zealand, South Africa, and Israel. With Jane Doe (the litigant in Jane Doe v. Metropolitan Toronto Commissioners of Police (1998), 39 O.R. (3d) 487 (Ct. ) as Conference Co-Ordinator, they fund-raised and launched a sold out conference March 6th and 7th 2009, attended by over 350 law students, activists, professors and lawyers. The event was opened by Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, cheered on by multiple standing ovations, and closed by a slide show tribute to Jane Doe and her work. Over 50 papers arising from this event are forthcoming in three collections edited by Professor Sheehy (see Publications below).

Professor Sheehy currently sits on the Advisory Board for Informed Opinions (a national organization dedicated to including women’s expert voices in Canadian public discourse) and on the Editorial Advisory Board for the Legal Education Review (Australia). She has acted as a Collaborator with artist cj fleury in a project joining art, feminism, and law, called Templates for Activism (1999-2006) ( cjfleuryart.ca/templates_for_activism/fleurysheehy.html), as a Member of the Battered Women’s Subcommittee for the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (1992-97), as English Language Editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (1989-93), and as President of Lawyers Against Apartheid (1989-91).


Professor Sheehy contributes regularly to print and radio media analyses of current developments in criminal law and policy as well as legal responses to male violence against women. She has published numerous op eds on topics such as wrongful convictions and issues affecting women and the criminal justice system.

  • “Are battered women justified in killing in self-defence? You decide” The Ottawa Citizen (18 December 2013) A13.
  • “The law, and history, speak for themselves” The National Post (17 December 2013) A12.
  • CBC The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti (19 December 2013).
  • “Do victims have a ‘right to kill’?” Canada AM (17 December 2013).
  • “Op-Ed: Battered women’s defences still in question” Ottawa Citizen (18 January 2013). With Carissima Mathen.
  • “Bail and Violence Against Women”CBC Sunday Edition (27 January 2013).
  • “Les femmes inconscientes ne sont pas disponible sexuellement” La Presse (30 May 2011).
  • “Consent ruling sends a welcome and clear ruling” The Vancouver Sun (1 June 2011).
  • “Supreme Court got it right in ruling against ‘advance consent’” The Halifax Chronicle Herald (1 June 2011).
  • “Violence: lorsque la prison devient une solution de rechange” Le Courrier de la Nouvelle-Écosse (22 April 2011) 4.
  • “Violence: lorsque la prison devient une solution de rechange” Acadienouvelle (19 April 2011) 13.
  • “When prison is the better option; Acquittal extends lifeline - defence of duress - to battered women” The [Halifax] Chronicle Herald (16 April 2011) A15.
  • “When prison is what you want” Winnipeg Free Press (14 April 2011) A12.
  • “Review process must be independent. Truscott case analysis” The Toronto Star (Saturday 30 October 2004) A8.
  • “For the wrongfully convicted, justice can be hard to come by” The Guelph Mercury (Saturday 30 October 2004) A9.


Professor Sheehy’s research focuses on criminal law and on legal responses to male violence against women. Along with Professor Jennie Abell and Professor Natasha Bakht, Professor Sheehy has published a double volume Criminal Law and Procedure casebook, Criminal Law and Procedure: Cases, Context and Critique and Criminal Law and Procedure: Proof, Defences and Beyond, now in their fifth editions. In addition to her many articles, position papers, and book chapters on criminal law issues as they affect women and racialized persons, she has published several edited collections, Her latest book uses trial transcripts to expose the many legal and practical challenges facing battered women on trial for the murder of their abusive male partners.

Books and Edited Collections

  • Defending Battered Women on Trial: Lessons from the transcripts (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014).
  • Criminal Law and Procedure: Proof, Defences and Beyond , 5d Ed. With Jennie Abell and Natasha Bakht (Toronto: Captus Press, 2014).
  • Editor, Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2012) (double volume book), 819 pp. Available on Open Access. Reviewed in Herizons (Summer 2013) and (2013) 50:1 Choice 7067 (Current Reviews for Academic Libraries).
  • Criminal Law and Procedure: Cases, Context, Critique , 5th Ed. (Toronto: Captus Press, 2012). With Jennie Abell and Natasha Bakht, 522 pp.
  • Guest Editor, Special Issue of Canadian Journal of Women and the Law “Ten Years After Jane Doe: Reflections on the State of Rape” (2010) vol. 22:2, 255 pp.
  • Guest Editor, Special Issue of Canadian Woman Studies “Women Resisting Rape: Feminist Law, Practice, Activism” (2010) vol. 28:1, 161 pp. With Jane Doe, Carol Latchford and Rakhi Ruparelia
  • Co-Editor, Calling for Change: Women, Law and the Legal Profession. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2006. With Sheila McIntyre, 428 pp. Reviewed by Susan B Boyd in (2007) 40 UBC L Rev 309.
  • Adding Feminism to Law: The Contributions of Claire L’Heureux-Dubé (Toronto: Irwin Law, 2004)
  • Co-Editor, Special Issue Honouring Madam Justice L'Heureux-Dubé. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law (2003) volume 15, number 1, 246 pp.
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Law and Policy (2001) vol 39: 2 & 3 Osgoode Hall LJ.

Selected Book Chapters

  • “Judges and the Reasonable Steps Requirement: The Judicial Stance on Perpetration Against Unconscious Complainants” in Elizabeth Sheehy, ed. Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2012, pp 483-540
  • “The Victories of Jane Doe” in Elizabeth Sheehy, ed. Sexual Assault in Canada: Law, Legal Practice and Women’s Activism. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2012, pp 23-45
  • “Equality and Supreme Court Jurisprudence: Never the Twain Shall Meet” in Sheila McIntyre and Sanda Rodgers, eds. The Supreme Court of Canada and the Achievement of Social Justice: Commitment, Retrenchment or Retreat. Markham, Ontario: Supreme Court Law Review and LexisNexis Canada, 2010, pp 329-348
  • “Misogyny is Deadly” in Trish Hennessy and Ed Finn, eds. Speaking Truth to Power: A Reader on Canadian Women's Inequality (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 2010) 107.
  • “Legal Responses to Violence Against Women” reprinted in Barbara A. Crow and Lise Gotell, eds, Open Boundaries. A Canadian Women’s Studies Reader (2d ed.). Toronto: Pearson Education, 2004, pp. 256-267; in Michelle Webber and Kate Bezanson, eds, Rethinking Society in the 21st Century: Critical Readings in Sociology. Toronto: Scholar’s Press, 2004, pp. 275-287; and in in Katherine M.J. McKenna and June Larkin, eds, Violence Against Women. New Canadian Perspectives. Toronto: Iana Publications, 2002, pp. 473-491.
  • “Justice L’Heureux-Dubé and Canadian Sexual Assault Law: Resisting the Privatization of Rape” with Christine Boyle, in Elizabeth Sheehy, ed, Adding Feminism to Law: The Contributions of Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé. Toronto: Irwin Law, 2004, pp. 247- 283.
  • “Compensation for Women Who Have Been Raped” in Julian Roberts and Renate Mohr, eds. Confronting Sexual Assault. A Decade of Social and Legal Change. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994, pp. 205-240.

Selected Journal Articles

  • Elizabeth Sheehy, Julie Stubbs and Julia Tolmie, “Securing Fair Outcomes for Battered Women Charged with Homicide: Analysing Defence Lawyering in R v Falls” (2014) 38:2 Melbourne UL Rev (forthcoming).
  • Elizabeth Sheehy, Julie Stubbs and Julia Tolmie,”Defences to Homicide for Battered Women: A Comparative Analysis of the Laws of Australia, Canada and New Zealand” (2012) 34:3 Sydney L Rev 467-492
  • Elizabeth Sheehy, Julie Stubbs and Julia Tolmie, “Battered women charged with homicide in Australia, Canada and New Zealand: How do they fare?” (2012) 45:3 Aust & NZ J Criminology 383-399
  • “The Discriminatory Effects of Bill C-15’s Mandatory Minimum Sentences” (2010) 70(2) Criminal Reports (6th) 302-317.
  • “Causation, Common Sense, and the Common Law: Replacing Unexamined Assumptions with What We Know About Male Violence Against Women, or, From Jane Doe to Bonnie Mooney” (2006)17 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 97-126.
  • “Thrice Punished: Battered Women, Criminal Law and Disinheritance” (2004) 8 Southern Cross University Law Review 96-130. With Barbara Hamilton.
  • “Advancing Social Inclusion: The Implications for Criminal Law and Policy” (2004) 46 Canadian Journal of Criminology 73-95.
  • “Evidence Law and the ‘Credibility Testing’ of Women: A Comment on the E Case” (2002) 2 Queensland University of Technology Law and Justice Journal 157-174.
  • “Battered Women and Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” (2001) 39 Osgoode Hall Law Journal 529-554.
  • “From Women’s Duty to Resist to Men’s Duty to Ask: How Far Have We Come?” (2000) 20 Canadian Woman Studies 98-104.
  • “Review of the Self-Defence Review” (2000) 12 Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 197-234.
  • “Legalizing Justice for All Women: Canadian Women’s Struggle for Democratic Rape Law Reforms” (1996) 6 Australian Feminist Law Journal 87-113.
  • “The Intoxication Defence in Canada: Why Women Should Care” (1996) 23 Contemporary Drug Problems 595-630.


  • Advanced Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Sexual Assault Law
  • Defending Battered Women on Trial


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