Professor Peter Sankoff is an award-winning educator and researcher who focuses his work upon legal issues surrounding the criminal trial process and the relationship between animals and the law. He authors, co-authors or co-edits leading texts on the law of evidence (Witnesses; the Portable Guide to Witnesses), criminal law (Manning, Mewett and Sankoff on Criminal Law, 5th ed.) and animals and the law (Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law; Animal Law in Australasia: Continuing the Dialogue).
Peter graduated with a JD from the University of Toronto, and subsequently worked as a law clerk for Madame Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada. After pursuing an LL.M. from Osgoode Hall (York University), he joined the federal Department of Justice where he worked an advisor on human rights matters involving criminal justice. Peter then left Canada to teach as a Lecturer, and subsequently a Senior Lecturer, at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) from 2001-2011, before returning to the University of Alberta in 2012.
Peter has won numerous awards and recognition for his work on teaching pedagogy, including the 2016 Brightspace Award for Innovation in Teaching from the Society of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and the 2014 Information Technology Innovation Award from the University of Alberta (awarded to the person at the University of Alberta who shows the most innovative use of technology in teaching or administration). He also won an Early Career Research Excellence Award from the University of Auckland in 2006.
One of Peter's main objectives is to help law students, lawyers and members of the public learn more about how the law functions, and make learning complex legal concepts easier. To this end, Peter has created a large detailed open source library of video “lessons”, and an award winning Video Blogs (Clawbies: Honourable Mention, Best Law Professor Blog, 2015; Clawbies: Winner, Best Vlog, 2016). All of these videos and blogs can be viewed at Peter's website.
Peter has taught as an invited visiting professor at the University of Ottawa (2004), Haifa University (Israel)(2008), the University of Melbourne (Australia)(2009) Lewis and Clark College of Law (Portland, Oregon)(2010), the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario)(2011-2012), Niigata University (Japan)(2012) and the University of Auckland (2013).
His work has been published in a number of the world’s most distinguished journals, including: the Queen’s Law Journal, the University of British Columbia Law Review, the Criminal Law Quarterly, the Alberta Law Review, The New Zealand Law Review and the Animal Law Review.
Peter has a real interest in the University of Alberta Moot Program. He has been a coordinator of the Brimacombe Moot Competition for several years, and in 2018 he coached the University of Alberta to victory in the Gale Cup, Canada’s preeminent criminal law moot, which Alberta had last won in 2001. In 2019, his team won the Gale Cup again becoming the first repeat winner since 1982. As a result of this win, the team qualified for the Commonwealth Law Moot in Zambia, where it competed against seven other national champions. Alberta ended up winning the Commonwealth Moot, the first time the University has ever achieved this honour.
Finally, Peter is a member of the Board of Directors of Animal Justice, and acted as counsel for the organization when it intervened in the appeal of R v DLW at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2015. He is the Co-Host of Paw and Order, an award-winning podcast (Clawbies, Best Niche Podcast, 2018) that explores issues related to animals and the law. Since 2017, he has also worked as Associate Counsel with Bottos Law Group appearing successfully as counsel on some of Canada’s most important criminal law cases, including R v Suter and R v Barton.
A general introduction to the criminal law, including basic procedure, evidence, and sentencing rules, with primary emphasis on substantive criminal law. Topics include the physical and fault elements of offences, common law and statutory defences, and constitutional principles.Fall Term 2020
A general introduction to the criminal law, including basic procedure, evidence, and sentencing rules, with primary emphasis on substantive criminal law. Topics include the physical and fault elements of offences, common law and statutory defences, and constitutional principles.Winter Term 2021
The principles, rules, and procedures governing the admissibility of evidence in criminal and civil trials. Topics include competence and compellability, relevance, prejudicial effect and probative value, and character, hearsay, and expert evidence.Fall Term 2020