Bernard Shaw sent Winston Churchill two tickets to the opening of one of his plays. He invited Churchill to come and bring a friend, if he had one. Churchill replied that he could not make the opening, but would come to the second night, if there was one. I had much more confidence that Professor Coughlan’s book would have a second edition than Churchill was that there would be a second night for Shaw’s play. The book combines sound scholarship with commendable brevity in a way that makes it helpful to a wide range of audiences. Professor Coughlan set out to provide a survey of the structure, architecture, and competing values of criminal procedure and his first edition succeeded marvellously. I am therefore pleased, but not surprised, to see this updated version which ensures that this useful text remains current.
The structure of Canadian criminal procedure consists of a complex set of statutory rules. But its architecture is shaped by ancient common law principles and deep societal values, many of which have been both preserved and given new life by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The subject is, as Professor Coughlan astutely ob-serves, one in which important questions of legal principle and societal values underlie almost every question. The complex technicality of the subject must be mastered, but not to the neglect of the underlying fundamental principles and deeply held values that are in play. This book succeeds in striking this difficult balance, never neglecting the rules but never failing to place them in the broader context of the underlying principles and values.
This compact volume will not appeal to those seeking a digest of all the reported decisions, although it neglects none of the leading authorities. But it will be a most welcome resource for both those new to the subject and for those with more experience who are facing a novel problem. For the student or the junior practitioner, this book provides a concise and admirably clear account of the law. The structure of each topic is succinctly set out, the complex bodies of caselaw are summarized with clarity and precision, and there is careful attention to cross-referencing related areas. In short, the book offers a quickly accessible and sure-footed guide over tricky terrain. But that is not all. For those with more experience, it provides a concise yet sophisticated review of the underlying principles of the law-quick access to the "big picture"-which can be so helpful in coming to terms with new problems and formulating or responding to new arguments. While this is a short book, it is not one just for beginners.
One of life’s most satisfying experiences is to watch a gifted student, through sustained hard work, fulfill his potential. Steve Coughlan has provided all of his former teachers at the Dalhousie Law School, including this one, with that experience. I can even forgive him his occasional missteps in his criticisms of the Supreme Court of Canada. The success of this book is further evidence of his talent and his industry. I celebrate the second edition of the book and look forward to the third. I am sure it will have one.
Thomas A. Cromwell Supreme Court of Canada