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Denise Smith, QC

Denise is dedicated to improving the prosecution experience for survivors of sexual violence.

Denise is the deputy director of the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service. She is a career prosecutor of more than 30 years. Her cases include a wide range of criminal offences including many homicides and sexual assaults. In the past several years Denise has focused on sexual violence prosecutions by establishing dedicated prosecutors and leading a specialized initiative to support human trafficking prosecutions. 

Denise has been an assessor for the Atlantic Law Schools' trial advocacy competition and a past chair of the Sopinka Cup National Law Schools' trial advocacy competition. She is also a Dalhousie Feminist Legal Association mentor to first-year female law students. Denise graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1989 and was designated a Queen's Counsel in 2014. 

Explaining the legal complexity of a sexual assault prosecution to a traumatized survivor

Presented by Denise Smith, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service and Catherine Buckie, Independent Plain Language Consultant, Canada

How do you remove the barriers sexual assault survivors face when deciding whether to participate in the prosecution process? We think explaining the process in plain language can help. Without sugarcoating, A Survivor’s Guide to Sexual Assault Prosecution, tells survivors that they have a key role to play and that they will be supported along the way. We hope our experience will give you the tools you need to communicate complex information about a difficult or sensitive topic to a vulnerable population.


Join this presentation to:

  • Learn why testing a fully designed draft document beats testing words alone.

  • Find out how to combine plain language practices with audience feedback to create a new document.

  • Think about the pros & cons of using the same participants to test the revised document.

  • Discuss the challenges of conveying complex information to a vulnerable audience.


Walk away with: 

  • Writing at Work: How to write clearly, effectively, and professionally by Neil James

  • Usability Testing Essentials: Ready, Set … Test! by Carol M. Barnum