Professor Emma Cunliffe is an Associate Professor in the Allard School of Law. She teaches criminal law, evidence, jurisprudence and a graduate seminar in research methodologies and has won a UBC Killam Research Fellowship (2014), the Killam Award for Teaching Excellence (2010) and the George Curtis Memorial Award for Teaching (2010).
Growing awareness of wrongful convictions has led to an understanding that some commonly used expert evidence is unreliable, and that courts have not historically done a good job of identifying and excluding low-quality expert testimony. Other research suggests that implicit prejudice, heuristics and bias cause predictable errors in decision-making, including in contexts that have great relevance to courts. Dr. Cunliffe's research focuses on courts' capacity to find facts accurately; and more generally considers the interplay between expert (non-legal) knowledges, cultural knowledges and legal reasoning when courts 'find' facts. She is the author of Murder, Medicine and Motherhood (Hart Publishing, 2011) which examines the case of Kathleen Folbigg, a mother who was convicted of murdering her children based on misleading medical evidence. Her book demonstrates how legal process, medical knowledge and expectations of motherhood work together when a mother is charged with killing infants who have died in mysterious circumstances. With funding from SSHRC, she is working with Professor Christine Boyle on a project examining the fact determination process in Canada. Dr Cunliffe is a member of the editorial boards for the International Journal of Evidence & Proof and the Australian Feminist Law Journal and is regularly invited to present her work to judges, lawyers and experts.
Dr Cunliffe supervises graduate students in the fields of criminal law and criminology. However, she does not presently have any capacity to accept new students.