Peter A Allard School of Law

Emma Cunliffe

BA, LLB (Melbourne), LLM, PhD (UBC)


Dr Emma Cunliffe is a Professor in the Allard School of Law.  Dr Cunliffe studies how courts decide the facts of contested cases.  She is particularly interested in expert evidence, the operation of implicit bias, and legal processes regarding gendered and racialized violence, particularly those regarding Indigenous people. Dr Cunliffe is also a member of the evidence-based forensic initiative, which is based at the University of New South Wales.

From 2021 – 2023, Dr Cunliffe served as the director of research and policy for the joint Federal-Nova Scotia Mass Casualty Commission which was tasked with studying the “context, causes and circumstances” of a mass casualty incident that occurred in Nova Scotia in April 2020. The Commission’s Final Report was delivered in March 2023.

Dr Cunliffe’s 2011 book Murder, Medicine and Motherhood was the first to argue that Australian woman Kathleen Folbigg had been wrongly convicted of killing her four children. Her work played an important role in Ms Folbigg’s eventual exoneration. She is now preparing a 2nd edition of the book, describing Ms Folbigg’s pathway to freedom.

With funding from SSHRC, Dr Cunliffe is presently analyzing how facts are “found” in Canadian trials, inquests and commissions of inquiry that engage with gendered and racialized violence.  She is particularly investigating whether expert knowledge (such as forensic medicine and psychiatric testing) operates as a Trojan horse by which discriminatory knowledge and beliefs reinforce implicit and structural biases within the legal system. She is also studying examples of legal processes in which discriminatory beliefs are successfully countered.  Her major work in progress is a monograph, Judging Experts.  This book explores examples of judicial engagement with expert evidence to assess how effectively Canadian legal processes ensure that expert witnesses provide independent and reliable expert testimony.  

Dr Cunliffe supervises graduate students in the fields of expert evidence, judicial fact-finding, and the criminalization of women. She presently has little capacity to accept new graduate students, however if you are specifically interested in researching expert testimony in Canadian legal processes, please get in touch by email with a brief research proposal.

At UBC, Dr Cunliffe teaches criminal law, evidence, jurisprudence and seminars in factual reasoning and research methodologies. She has won a Courage in Law award from the Indigenous Legal Students Association (2016), UBC Killam Research Fellowship (2014), the Killam Award for Teaching Excellence (2010) and the George Curtis Memorial Award for Teaching (2010).

Research and Publications

 To learn more about my research, please visit my PURE Research profile. You can also access my publications on the following sites: 



  • Criminal Law and Procedure
  • Evidence Law
  • Jurisprudence
  • Judicial Externship
  • Indigenous People in Colonial Criminal Legal Systems


Books, casebooks and edited collections

  • Emma Cunliffe, Murder, Medicine and Motherhood (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2011) (available as an e-book:
  • Emma Cunliffe (ed), The Ethics of Expert Evidence (London: Routledge, 2016).  (See the table of contents here:
  • Benjamin Berger, Emma Cunliffe and James Stribopoulous (eds) To Ensure that Justice is Done: Essays in Memory of Marc Rosenberg (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2017)
  • Kent Roach, Benjamin Berger, Emma Cunliffe and Asad Kiyani, Criminal Law and Procedure: Cases and Materials (Toronto: Emond, 2020).
  • Hamish Stewart, Benjamin Berger, Emma Cunliffe, Ronalda Murphy & Steven Penney, Evidence: A Canadian Casebook (Toronto: Emond Montgomery, 2020).

Selected Articles and Chapters

  • Gary Edmond, Emma Cunliffe and David Hamer, “Fingerprint Comparison and Adversarialism: The Scientific and Historical Evidence” (2020) Modern Law Review (forthcoming).
  • Emma Cunliffe, “The Magic Gun: Settler Legality, Forensic Science, and the Stanley Case” (2020) Canadian Bar Review (forthcoming).
  • Emma Cunliffe “Charter Rights, State Expertise: Testing State Claims to Expert Knowledge” (2020) 94 Sup. Ct. L. Rev. (2d) 367-390.
  • Gary Edmond, Emma Cunliffe, Kristy Martire & Mehera San Roque, “Forensic Science Evidence and the Limits of Cross-Examination ” (2019) 42:3 Melbourne U.L. Rev. 858-920.
  • Emma Cunliffe, “A New Canadian Paradigm? Judicial Gatekeeping and the Reliability of Expert Evidence” in Paul Roberts and Michael Stockdale (eds) Forensic Science Evidence and Expert Witness Testimony: Reliability through Reform? (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar 2018) 310 – 332.
  • Gary Edmond, Emma Cunliffe, Kristy Martire & Mehera San Roque, “Forensic Science Evidence and the Limits of Cross-examination” (2018) 42:3 Melbourne University Law Review forthcoming.
  • Emily Grabham, Emma Cunliffe, Stacy Douglas, Sarah Keenan, Renisa Mawani, Amade M’charek, “Exploring Relationships between Time, Law and Social Ordering: A Curated Conversation” (2018) 8:2 feminists@law online
  • Emma Cunliffe and Gary Edmond, “What Have We Learned?  Lessons from Wrongful Convictions in Canada” in Benjamin Berger, Emma Cunliffe and James Stribopoulos (eds), To Ensure that Justice is Done: Essays in Memory of Marc Rosenberg (Toronto: Thomson Reuters, 2017) 129 – 47.
  • Emma Cunliffe and Gary Edmond, “Reviewing Wrongful Convictions in Canada” (2017) 64 Criminal Law Quarterly 475 – 488.
  • Emma Cunliffe, “Henry v British Columbia: Still Seeking a Just Approach to Damages for Wrongful Conviction” (2016) 76 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 143 – 167.
  • Gary Edmond & Emma Cunliffe, “Cinderella Story? The Social Production of a ‘Forensic Science’” (2016) 106 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 219 – 273. 
  • Gary Edmond et al, “Model Forensic Sciences” (2016) Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences online first:
  • Debra Parkes & Emma Cunliffe, “Women & Wrongful Convictions” (2015) 11:3 International Journal of Law in Context 219 – 244.
  • Emma Cunliffe & Gary Edmond, “Gaitkeeping in Canada: Mis-steps in Assessing the Reliability of Expert Testimony” (2014) 92 Canadian Bar Review, 327-68.
  • Emma Cunliffe, “Judging Fast and Slow” (2014) 18 International Journal of Evidence & Proof 139 - 80.
  • Emma Cunliffe, “Independence, Reliability and Expert Testimony in Criminal Trials” (2013) 10 Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences 284 – 95.
  • Emma Cunliffe "Open Justice: Concepts and Judicial Approaches" (2012) 40 Fed. L. Rev. 385-411.
  • Emma Cunliffe "Sexual Assault Cases in the Supreme Court of Canada: Losing Sight of Substantive Equality?" (2012) 57 Sup. Ct. L. Rev. (2d) 295-316 (online, open access:

Publications listed on the Law Library Faculty Research Publications Database.

To visit Professor Cunliffe's SSRN author page, click here.

Emma Cunliffe

Organization Affiliations

  • Centre for Feminist Legal Studies

Research Interests

  • Criminal law and criminal justice
  • Feminist legal studies

How can the criminal legal system avoid discriminatory stereotypes and improve the reliability of evidence?

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