Photo of Darren Pacione

Darren Pacione

PhD Candidate (Legal Studies/Legal History)

Areas of Interest

  • Canadian legal history
  • Political violence and terrorism
  • Emergency powers and the rule of law
  • Law and narrative
  • Criminal law and due process rights

Keep up to date with Darren

Supervisor: Barry Wright

My most recent project focused on the judicial responses to acute episodes of political violence and the suspensions of civil right in Canada, and particularly Quebec during the 1970 October Crisis. In this study, I use Front de Libération du Québec (FLQ) criminal trials to highlight judicial tensions, and illustrate how principles of judicial independence and the separation of powers, which underlie conceptions of the rule of law, are often strained during times of domestic security emergencies.

Emergency politics and contexts of transitional justice regime present particular political and legal challenges to criminal courts, specifically these contexts challenge a court’s adherence to formal claims to rights and the rule of law. In this vein, my current research examines the extent to which the relationships between prosecuting counsel, defence counsel, juries, and judges are tested as a result of the trials that respond to acute and systemic episodes of political violence, and civil and human rights violations.

Using historical case studies of (political) criminal trials, and with a particular focus on defense counsel who defend alleged terror and war crimes suspects, as well as those deemed political criminals and insurgents (in Canada see the FLQ trials, in (Northern) Ireland see nationalist and unionist trials, in West Germany see the Red Army Faction trials, in apartheid South Africa see the Rivonia trial and those of student activist, in the Balkans see the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and others), I ask the extent to which narratives of defense counsel derived from trial transcripts can be read as a political junction between law, history, and memory, and as an internal critique of law and the (limits) of the trial process.


Masters of Arts, Legal Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa (2011)

Thesis: Courts and Late-Modern Security Crises: Judicial Deference, Temporary Emergency Power and the Rule of Law in Quebec and Northern Ireland

(Supervisor: Barry Wright)

Bachelors of Arts, Law and Justice, Laurentian University, Sudbury (2009)

Academic Awards

2012 Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship

Selected Publications


The FLQ Trials, 1969-1971: Judicial Tensions and Constitutional Questions,” Quebec Studies 55.1 (2013): 101-118.


“Review: Law is a White Dog: How Legal Rituals Make and Unmake Persons. (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011),” Socialist Studies/Études socialistes 9.1 (2013): 204-6.