Q&A Series with Instructor Colton Fehr

October 19, 2020

By Adhil Naidu

Colton Fehr is an incoming Instructor in the School of Criminology. His research includes; criminal law, criminal procedure, constitutional law, philosophy of law, evidence, privacy, comparative law.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

During my undergrad, I studied political science especially as it relates to philosophy. I gravitated towards criminal and constitutional law as a result. As I considered many of the broader questions at issue (especially in the criminal law) I found it impossible to ignore the important empirical questions underlying many legal questions. This, obviously, pointed me towards the field of criminology. I now work primarily in the fields of criminal law, constitutional law, evidence, and criminal procedure, and I try to incorporate the empirical study of crime and law more generally into my work.

As for my free time, I’m an avid musician. I’ve toured North America with my (now previous) band Autopilot, hailing from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I’m originally from. I played bass in the band but have a knack for the guitar and (to a lesser extent) drums as well. I’m reasonably confident that there are no embarrassing pictures or videos from any of our shows…

What current research are you working on?

The main project I’m working on is a book entitled “Constitutionalizing Criminal Law.” The Supreme Court of Canada strikes down many criminal laws but, in so doing, it employs different types of constitutional principles. I’m considering the utility of employing three distinct types: principles of criminal law theory, instrumental rationality, and enumerated rights. I’m also working on an empirical study asking whether disclosure of religious beliefs in the courtroom (via swearing an oath/affirmation, wearing religious garments, or providing testimony relating to religious beliefs) results in biased decisions by jurors and judges. Other than that, I have several journal articles in the works in the field of criminal procedure, especially as it relates to digital technologies. My work more generally can be viewed on my SSRN website.

What classes are you teaching in Fall?

As I’m a new hire, I’ll only be teaching one class in the Fall: criminal law.

What do you most enjoy about working at the School of Criminology?

I’ve just started so ask me again in a few months!

What are you most looking forward to in working at the School of Criminology?

I think it’s important that criminal law and criminology scholars work together to improve our understanding and ability to better the criminal justice system. In my view, SFU provides the best opportunity for such work in the country.

What do you enjoy most about your students/teaching?

I learn quite a bit from my students as they bring fresh perspectives to an area of law that I’ve been studying for almost a decade. I therefore strongly encourage students to challenge any and all underlying assumptions of the theory of criminal law. Participating in this dialogue not only makes the class more fun for me, it also helps students develop and hone the critical thinking skills imperative to university study more generally.

What advice do you have for students to be successful in your class?

Pay attention to the big picture or “themes” of the course. 

Get in touch with Colton Fehr:

Phone: 778-782-4036
Email: colton_fehr@sfu.ca

Burnaby Office: Saywell Hall 10229