Thursday, April 11, 2024

Two books by Faculty of Law professors have been shortlisted for the prestigious Donner Prize, celebrating excellence in public policy writing by Canadian authors. Only five books are nominated. 

Selected by a jury and administered by the Donner Canadian Foundation, one of Canada’s largest foundations established in 1950, the $60,000 Donner Prize recognizes authors who make original and meaningful contributions to Canadian policy discourse. Since 1967, the Donner Canadian Foundation has contributed more than $150 million to public policy research in Canada.

Professors Abdi Aidid and Benjamin Alarie

The Legal Singularity: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Law Radically Better (University of Toronto Press, 2023), by Abdi Aidid and Benjamin Alarie, Osler Chair in Business Law, argues that the proliferation of AI-enabled technology – specifically, the advent of legal prediction – will radically change the law and legal profession, facilitating a ‘completeness’ of law that is clearer and fairer. The book is of interest not only to lawyers and technologists, but anyone interested in the future of the labour force or social institutions beyond the law.  

2023 Donner Prize Shortlist Citation: 

The Legal Singularity addresses the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in the legal sector. It considers the evolving role of technology in governance and the administration of justice, offering insights into how AI can enhance efficiency, fairness, and accessibility in legal processes. It also explores how the integration of AI in law could revolutionize policy development, regulatory compliance, and public service delivery. An important and timely book that will generate a meaningful conversation about AI and its role in the pursuit of justice.

Read more about The Legal Singularity at U of T News

Professor Kent Roach

Professor Kent Roach's nominated book, Wrongfully Convicted: Guilty Pleas, Imagined Crimes, and What Canada Must Do to Safeguard Justice (Simon & Schuster, 2023), underlines the dangers of wrongful convictions based on false guilty pleas or imagined crimes that never happened. It bookends his trilogy on Canada’s criminal justice system with previously published books on Canadian policing and the case that saw Gerald Stanley acquitted in the 2018 killing of Colten Boushie. Canadian Justice Indigenous Injustice was shortlisted for the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for political writing and Canadian Policing: Why and How It Must Change was also a finalist for both the Balsillie and Donner prizes for public policy books. All three books were published in the span of five years.

2023 Donner Prize Shortlist Citation: 

In this deft presentation of the deficiencies in the Canadian justice system, Roach chronicles numerous instances of wrongful conviction, as well as outlining remedies which, if implemented, could prevent, detect and remedy such cases. This is a systemic problem. Roach notes that between 1989 and 2008 Canada conducted no less than seven multi-year and multi-million-dollar inquiries into specific wrongful convictions. He reminds us that the burden of wrongful conviction falls disproportionally on the disadvantaged. Clear, thorough, compelling, evocative, and jargon-free, Wrongfully Convicted stands out as a valuable resource for policymakers, lawyers, and advocates for justice.

Read more about Wrongfully Convicted at U of T News

The prize will be awarded at a Gala Dinner in Toronto on May 8, 2024.

Read more about the Donner Prize nominees in the news: 

Globe and Mail

Quill & Quire

CBC Books