A Rush to Judgment


Did Louis Riel have a fair trial?

The trial and conviction of Louis Riel for treason in the summer of 1885 and his execution on November 16, 1885, have been the subject of historical comment and criticism for over one hundred years. A Rush to Judgment challenges the view held by some historians that Riel received a fair trial.

Roger E. Salhany argues that the judge allowed the prosecutors to control the proceedings, was biased in his charge to the jury, and failed to properly explain to the jury how they were to consider the evidence of legal insanity. He also argues that the government was anxious to ensure the execution of Riel, notwithstanding the recommendation of the jury for clemency, because of concerns that if Riel was sent to a mental hospital or prison, he would eventually be released and cause further trouble.

About the Author

Roger E. Salhany

Posted by Dundurn Guest on April 30, 2019
Roger E. Salhany photo

Roger E. Salhany

Roger Salhany is a retired justice of the Superior Court of Ontario. A Queen’s Counsel and former trial lawyer, he has been a lecturer to judges, lawyers, law students, administrative boards, and police officers. He is the author of eight books on criminal procedure. He lives in Ottawa.