No Legal Way Out: R v Ryan, Domestic Abuse, and the Defence of Duress
Published by: UBC Press
Imprint: UBC Press
Published: August 2021
208 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.55 in
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No Legal Way Out tells the story of one woman who felt trapped in an abusive relationship – and in a system that gave her no way to escape.
An RCMP sting caught Nicole Doucet (Ryan) trying to hire a hitman to kill her ex-husband. It was supposed to be an open-and-shut case. It wasn’t.
No Legal Way Out details the judicial process, media coverage, and legal implications of R v Ryan. Appealed up to the Supreme Court of Canada, Doucet’s initial acquittal – on the basis of duress in the context of abuse – was overturned, but a stay of proceedings meant that she could not be tried again. The court castigated the RCMP for not protecting her, prompting a one-sided investigation that ultimately exonerated the force and garnered substantial critical media attention for Doucet.
R v Ryan limited the legal options for women seeking to escape abuse and had a profoundly negative impact on public perceptions of domestic violence. This unabashedly feminist analysis explains why the court, the police, and the media let down all women trapped by intimate partner terrorism.
1 Understanding Domestic Abuse and Femicide
2 Nicole Doucet, Her Story, and Her Trial
3 Decisions of the Courts
4 Policing the Police?
5 Trial by Media
Notes; Selected Bibliography; Index of Cases; Index