Innocence Canada

AIDWYC is now Innocence Canada

Along with our new name, we'll also be launching a new and improved website in the coming months.
Thank you for visiting today, and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!

Conviction: The Innocence Canada Blog

14 05, 2017

Congratulations to Russell Silverstein

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On April 13, 2017, the Ministry of the Attorney General announced that Russell Stuart Silverstein was appointed a judge to the Ontario Court of Justice, effective April 26th.

In 2003, Russell joined Innocence Canada as a member of our Review Committee, he later became a Director of the Board and in 2014 he was elected as Co-President.

In 1984, Russell was called to the New York Bar and to the Ontario Bar in 1985. Russell practised in both French and English as a criminal defence lawyer at the trial and appellate levels.  He was well respected by his colleagues at Innocence Canada for his leadership, legal expertise, work ethic, and dedication to the review of potential wrongful conviction cases.

Russell will be a positive addition to the judiciary because of his gifted legal mind, his sense of fairness and his respect for the most vulnerable of society.  He will be deeply missed.

We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Justice Silverstein on the well deserved honour that has been bestowed upon him for over 30 years of commitment to the legal profession.

Chief Justice Lise Maisonneuve has assigned Justice Silverstein to preside in Toronto.

10 04, 2017

The Innocence Network Conference in San Diego

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The 2017 Innocence Network Conference took place from March 23-25, 2017 in San Diego, California. Amongst the 190 exonerees in attendance was Innocence Canada exoneree, Maria Shepherd who was accompanied to the conference by her husband, Ashley.

Innocence Canada was also represented by Sean MacDonald, Win Wahrer, Caitlin Pakosh and David Levy. At the conference were representation from 14 International Innocence organizations which included Canada, China, Argentina, United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Norway, Taiwan and the United States.

The first Innocence Network Conference was held in San Diego 15 years ago. This year’s conference was attended by approximately 800 people. The keynote speaker was Valerie B. Jarrett, who was senior advisor to President Obama.

Fourty-three (43) exonerees obtained their freedom in 2016 and were welcomed into the Innocence family by past exonerees. It was a moving and memorable three days which was highlighted by the introduction of the 190 exonerees.

Exonerees and their supporters

Daniel Villegas, John Mimbela Sr. and his wife Lucy

John Mimbela Sr. and Marty Tankleff.

Read about Marty’s story here:

Learn more about John Mimbela here:–the-confession-5494375076

Barry Scheck, Maria Shepherd and Jeff Deskovic


David Levy and Caitlin Pakosh (Innocence Canada), Sunny Jacobs, Peter Pringle and Christine 

20 03, 2017

Innocence Canada Round Table- February 10, 2017 in Toronto, ON

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Innocence Canada held round table discussions on February 10, 2017 in Toronto, ON.

This round table represents the beginnings of the work that is needed to address the reality of wrongful conviction in the criminal justice system.

In attendance at this meeting were multi-disciplined justice system stakeholders from across Canada. The roundtable discussion allowed the stakeholders to engage and deliberate on the topic of how to improve post-conviction review work in Canada, and how to help prevent such miscarriages of justice through legislative and policy based reform.

There were three (3) major subject arears that were addressed:
1)    Preventions and Remedies for Wrongful Convictions;
2)    Wrongful Convictions of Indigenous People and Marginalized Groups; and
3)    The Future Model of Post-Conviction Review Work in Canada.

The overall dialogue was beneficial, resulting in a number of recommendations for improving the justice system.

Please note: Innocence Canada will be releasing recommendations in the coming months.

16 03, 2017

Former AIDWYC Board Member – Edward Sapiano – Back in Action!

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In 2014, Mr. Sapiano experienced Kidney failure – nearly ending his life in the midst of a high-profile murder trial. He was immediately placed on dialysis. Now after two and a half years, Mr. Sapiano will eagerly return to work this Spring. He is believed to be the first lawyer in Canada to undergo ten hours daily of dialysis, all while continuing to practice. Welcome back Edward, Superman indeed!

Click here for more information.

23 01, 2017

Death in the Family-How Parents Fought Against “Thinking Dirty”

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John Chipman’s new book, Death in the Family investigates the devastating consequences of the “think dirty” approach of the Ontario Coroner’s office in the mid-‘90s. Dangerous assumptions were made about the cause of pediatric deaths that resulted in parents being wrongly charged in the deaths of their children. At the heart of the “think dirty” approach was Dr. Charles Smith, chief pathologist of the Ontario Pediatric Forensic Pathology Unit who despite his lack of forensic training, gave opinions on the causes of death that were frequently the foundation of convictions and investigations. This book brings a voice to the victims of Dr. Charles Smith and showcases the shattering consequences of justice system failure.

The following articles showcase the stories of the victims and the challenges of plea bargains.

Convicted of killing her son based on Charles Smith’s testimony, Tammy Marquardt enters the Prison for Women. An excerpt from Death in the Family:


Charles Smith scandal: How a mother wrongly accused of killing her son fought back. The story of Lianne Thibeault:

‘I fought back’: A mother’s fight to clear her name in toddler death. The story of Brenda Waudby:

Why plea bargains can be a deal with the devil:

8 01, 2017

John F Ross CVI Students Eat, Bake and Write for Justice

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Thank you to the amazing Grade 11 English students of Ms. Yanchus from John F Ross CVI for raising money for Innocence Canada by baking for justice. They have been learning about injustice and wrongful conviction. Check out their insightful thoughts below.


8 01, 2017

Longboarding for Peace features Innocence Canada Co-President Ron Dalton

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15 12, 2016

A Special Holiday Message from Innocence Canada

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Seasons Greetings,

Thank you to everyone for your support of Innocence Canada in 2016! We hope that during this special season and throughout the year to come that we can count on your continued interest and encouragement, which is essential, needed and inspiring.

Innocence Canada is grateful to the Government of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada for the funding it will receive to help sustain its operations for the next three years. However, we need to continue our fundraising efforts in order to address the shortfall that still exists for 2017. We require additional funding to continue our important work on behalf of innocent Canadians who are incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. Our clients have been forced to be separated from their families, friends, and communities. However, despite their pain and suffering, they have refused to give in or give up their quest and fight to clear their names.

Their indomitable spirit is inspiring and heart wrenching as they valiantly persevere despite dashed hopes, disappointments, closed doors, and sometimes seemingly impossible odds and challenges. Innocence Canada has successfully assisted in the exoneration of no fewer than 21 wrongfully convicted Canadians – including Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Steven Truscott, Romeo Phillion, Dinesh Kumar, Leighton Hay, and Maria Shepherd.

Combined, Innocence Canada’s clients have spent in excess of 190 years incarcerated for crimes they did not commit!

Maria Shepherd, who was acquitted on February 29, 2016 had this to say:

“Without Innocence Canada, I would not have had my name cleared.  Innocence Canada is an essential organization that not only provided hope, freedom and emotional support to me and my family but to countless other people convicted of crimes they did not commit.   As long as Innocence [...]

15 12, 2016

Ontario Supporting Legal Advocacy for People Who May Have Been Wrongfully Convicted

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13 11, 2016

David Willson Obituary

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David Willson, who reviewed cases on behalf of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) now Innocence Canada, unexpectedly passed away on November 3, 2016 in Hawkesbury, Ontario after losing his brave battle with cancer.
David was a highly intelligent man of boundless energy who enjoyed life to its fullest.  He had a quick wit, a huge and generous heart and an adventurous spirit.
He will be remembered for his selfless dedication to his family, friends, and clients.
Innocence Canada is grateful to David for supporting the wrongly convicted and for volunteering countless hours to reviewing cases on our behalf.
We offer our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Francesca, their four children, seven grandchildren and other family members and friends.
We will remember David fondly and will especially miss our many interesting talks.  All conversations with David were sprinkled with a good dose of laughter.
With deep sadness,
Innocence Canada
Please find David’s obituary here: