Thomas Sophonow (born March 1953) is a Canadian who was wrongfully convicted of murder and whose case was the subject of a major judicial inquiry. Sophonow was tried three times in the 1981 murder of doughnut-shop clerk Barbara Stoppel. Sophonow spent four years imprisoned. In 1985, he was acquitted by the Manitoba Court of Appeal. A commission of inquiry was called by the province of Manitoba which led to the 2001 release of the Thomas Sophonow Inquiry Report. This inquiry was led by former Supreme Court justice Peter Cory. As a result of this report, Manitoba revised its policy of using prisoners in-custody as informants. This policy is located at Appendix F of the report. The inquiry also made 43 recommendations of which 11 related to the Province of Manitoba.
The Manitoba Court of Appeal is the highest court of appeal in the Canadian province of Manitoba. It was established in 1906. It is located in the Old Law Courts building at 408 York Avenue in Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba. It hears criminal, civil and family law cases, as well as appeals from various administrative boards and tribunals.
Peter deCarteret Cory, is a former puisne judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, from 1989 to 1999.
This is a list of notable overturned convictions in Canada.
David Milgaard is a Canadian who was wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of nursing assistant Gail Miller. He was released and compensated after spending 23 years in prison. He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. As of 2015, he lives in Calgary, Alberta and is employed as a community support worker.
Guy Paul Morin is a Canadian who was wrongly convicted of the October 1984 rape and murder of his nine-year-old next-door neighbour, Christine Jessop of Queensville, north of Toronto, Ontario. DNA testing led to a subsequent overturning of this verdict. As of 2014, no one else has been charged with Jessop's murder.
A miscarriage of justice, also known as a failure of justice, is when an actually innocent person is found guilty. It is seldom used as a legal defense in criminal and deportation proceedings. The term also applies to errors in the other direction—"errors of impunity", or to any clearly unjust outcome in any civil case. Every "miscarriage of justice" in turn is a "manifest injustice." Most criminal justice systems have some means to overturn or quash a wrongful conviction, but this is often difficult to achieve. In some instances a wrongful conviction is not overturned for several decades, or until after the innocent person has been executed, released from custody, or has died.
Donald Marshall Jr. was a Mi'kmaq man who was wrongly convicted of murder. The case inspired a number of questions about the fairness of the Canadian justice system, especially given that Marshall was Aboriginal; as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation put it, "The name Donald Marshall is almost synonymous with 'wrongful conviction' and the fight for native justice in Canada." The case inspired the Michael Harris book, Justice Denied: The Law Versus Donald Marshall and the subsequent film Justice Denied. His father, Donald Marshall Sr., was grand chief of the Mi'kmaq Nation at the time.
James Patrick Driskell is a Canadian born in Winnipeg who was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Perry Harder in 1991. Driskell has 7 children and 14 grandchildren.
Hersh Wolch was a prominent Canadian lawyer, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
James Lockyer is a lawyer and a prominent social justice activist in Toronto, Canada. He is a founding director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC). He has been involved in exposing more than ten wrongful convictions in Canada, including the cases of Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Clayton Johnson and Gregory Parsons. Several of these cases have become the subject of public inquiries.
Innocence Canada, formerly known as the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC), is a Canadian, non-profit legal organization. Based in Toronto, Innocence Canada identifies, advocates for, and helps exonerate individuals who have been convicted of a serious crime which they did not commit and to preventing future wrongful convictions through education and justice system reform.
Darryl Hunt was an African-American man from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who, in 1984, was wrongfully convicted for the rape and the murder of Deborah Sykes, a young white newspaper copy editor, and sentenced to life in prison. After being convicted in that case, Hunt was tried in 1987 for the 1983 murder of Arthur Wilson, a 57-year-old black man of Winston-Salem. Both convictions overturned on appeal in 1989. Hunt was tried again in the Wilson case in 1990; he was acquitted by an all-white jury. He was tried again on the Sykes charges in 1991; he was convicted.
Wrongful execution is a miscarriage of justice occurring when an innocent person is put to death by capital punishment. Cases of wrongful execution are cited as an argument by opponents of capital punishment, while proponents suggest that the argument of innocence concerns the credibility of the justice system as a whole and does not solely undermine the use of death penalty.
Fritz Yngvar Moen was a Norwegian man wrongfully convicted of two distinct felony murders, serving a total of 18 years in prison. After the convictions were quashed, an official inquiry was instigated to establish what had gone wrong in the authorities' handling of the case, and on 25 June 2007 the commission delivered harsh criticism to the police, the prosecution and the courts in what was immediately termed Norway's worst miscarriage of justice of all time.
Charles Randal Smith is a disgraced former Canadian pathologist who was the head pediatric forensic pathologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, from 1982 to 2003. The quality of his autopsies, and the resulting criminal charges and convictions of thirteen people, have been called into question and a full public inquiry was ordered. The inquiry found there to be fundamental errors made on the part of Smith and many of the cases in which he had testified are now being re-examined and appealed.
Arthur Allan Thomas is a New Zealand man who was granted a Royal Pardon and compensation after being wrongfully convicted of the murders of Harvey and Jeannette Crewe in June 1970. Thomas was married and farming a property in the Pukekawa district, south of Auckland before the case. Following the revelation that the crucial evidence against him had been faked, Thomas was pardoned and awarded NZ$950,000 in compensation for his 9 years in prison and loss of earnings.
Bruce A. MacFarlane is a Canadian lawyer, Crown prosecutor, legal scholar, and former federal and provincial Department of Justice official.
Roméo Phillion was convicted of the 1967 murder of Ottawa firefighter Léopold Roy, after making a confession to police which he recanted two hours later. He spent 31 years in prison and five years on parole. The case was reopened in 2006, and in March 2009, the Ontario Court of Appeal overturned his 1972 murder conviction and granted him a new trial, in part because a 1968 police report establishing a clear alibi for Phillion had not been turned over to his defence lawyer in his original trial. He was assisted by the Innocence Project and by lawyer James Lockyer, a director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted. On 29 April 2010, crown prosecutors withdrew the murder charge against him.
Lawrence A. Poitras is a retired judge in the Canadian province of Quebec. He is best known for serving on an inquiry into the wrongful conviction of Donald Marshall and overseeing a high-profile public inquiry into the Sûreté du Québec (SQ).
The innocent prisoner's dilemma, or parole deal, is a detrimental effect of a legal system in which admission of guilt can result in reduced sentences or early parole. When an innocent person is wrongly convicted of a crime, legal systems which need the individual to admit guilt, for example as a prerequisite step leading to parole, punish an innocent person for his integrity, and reward a person lacking in integrity. There have been many cases where innocent prisoners were given the choice between freedom, in exchange for claiming guilt, and remaining imprisoned and telling the truth. Individuals have died in prison rather than admit to crimes which they did not commit.
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