Reckoning with Racism: Police, Judges, and the RDS Case
Published by: UBC Press
Imprint: UBC Press
Sales Date: 2022-11-22
Published: November 2022
304 Pages, 5.40 x 8.30 x 1.00 in, 72 b/w photos
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In 1997, complacency about the racial neutrality of a predominantly white judiciary was shattered as the Supreme Court of Canada considered a complaint of judicial racial bias for the first time. The judge in question was Corrine Sparks, the country’s first Black female judge.
Reckoning with Racism considers the RDS case. A white Halifax police officer had arrested a Black teenager, placed him in a choke hold, and charged him with assaulting an officer and obstructing arrest. In acquitting the teen, Judge Sparks remarked that police sometimes overreacted when dealing with non-white youth. The acquittal held, but most of the white appeal judges critiqued her comments, based on the tradition that the legal system was non-racist unless proven otherwise. That became a matter of wide debate.
This book assesses the case of alleged anti-white judicial bias, the surrounding excitement, the dramatic effects on those involved, and the significance for the Canadian legal system.
1 The Trial
2 The People
3 A Black History of Nova Scotia
4 Race and Policing in Nova Scotia
5 The Initial Fallout
6 The Appeals Begin in Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court
7 Nova Scotia Court of Appeal
8 Gender Matters
9 Appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada
10 The Supreme Court of Canada’s “Gang of Five”
11 The Concurring Opinion in Defence of Judge Sparks