Innocence Canada

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Conviction: The Innocence Canada Blog

19 08, 2017

Caitlin Pakosh awarded the Walter Owen Book Prize

By |August 19th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Caitlin Pakosh awarded the Walter Owen Book Prize|

Congratulations to Innocence Canada’s Senior Staff Lawyer Caitlin Pakosh on being awarded the Walter Owen Book Prize for The Lawyer’s Guide to the Forensic Sciences.

The book was chosen by the Foundation for Legal Research from a long list of 17 books, and a shortlist of five, to receive the $10,000 prize.

The Walter Owen Book Prize is designed to recognize excellent legal writing and to reward outstanding new Canadian projects that enhance the quality of legal research in this country.

In David C. Day Q.C.’s book review, he writes, “Incontestably, this text has become the seminal introductory treatment of the principal forensic sciences; invaluably serving those committed to life in the law either above, or in, the well of a court—both criminal and civil.”

Further information can be found at the links below:

18 08, 2017

Media Alert: On October 2nd, Innocence Groups Will Unite for Wrongful Conviction Day

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On October 2, 2017, a Canadian-led campaign to observe Wrongful Conviction Day (WCD) is expected to be marked in countries around the world.

As part of the Canadian effort, a gala event in Toronto will feature several exonerees, the presentation of the annual Rubin Hurricane Carter Champion of Justice Award and the Tracey Tyler Award, which is given to an individual or group who through the news media, documentary or film, has helped to expose a wrongful conviction or raise awareness of the issue.

A keynote speech will be given by renowned criminal lawyer Marie Henein.

Innocence Canada has worked with innocence organizations from around the globe as well as individuals, businesses, schools, and other members of the public at large to recognize this important day for the past three years. In 2016, 44 of the then 66 innocence organizations participated in WCD events.

We will be increasing our efforts worldwide as a number of cities across Canada and the world will be illuminating landmark buildings, stadiums or bridges in their cities and signing proclamations to acknowledge the wrongly convicted, explained Ron Dalton, Exoneree and Co-President of Innocence Canada. What started as a trickle three years ago, is turning into a global movement!

Last year, in addition to proclamations marking WCD, ten landmarks were illuminated in nine cities in Canada and one in the United States in recognition of the battle to free the wrongly convicted. The landmarks included Toronto’s CN Tower.

The Wrongful Conviction Day campaign is designed to encourage the participation of the public and organizations. Faith communities, representatives of all levels of government and educational institutes are encouraged to set aside time to focus on the causes and remedies concerning wrongful convictions, an issue that affects and [...]

13 07, 2017

Innocence Canada Welcomes Kirk Makin as the New Co-President

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KIRK VICTOR MAKIN is a freelance writer and media consultant. Kirk graduated with a journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1979 where he was the editor-in-chief of the Eyeopener from 1977-78. Prior to joining the Globe in Mail in 1979 he was employed as a fish cannery worker, fisherman, landscaper and taxi driver. After covering the nuclear power beat, the environment beat and Queen’s Park, Kirk gravitated towards courts, prisons and legal coverage. He has covered major trials, which include those of Ernst Zundel, Henry Morgentaler, Patrick Kelly, Guy Paul Morin, Paul Bernardo and Ken Murray. As justice reporter, he specialized in the Supreme Court of Canada, the judiciary, the legal profession and wrongful convictions. He wrote a best-selling book in 1992 – Redrum the Innocent – which helped expose the wrongful murder conviction of Guy Paul Morin. He was also chief consultant on an award-winning, CBC Fifth Estate expose on the Guy Paul Morin case, entitled Odd Man Out.

Kirk has written extensively for various magazines, made hundreds of television appearances as a commentator on justice issues and sports, and hosted a series of hour-long, dramatic re-enactments of famous Canadian legal cases – History’s Courtroom – in 2002 and 2003. Mr. Makin won the Scales of Justice Award for justice reporting in 1988 and 1989; the National Newspaper Award, (Feature Writing) in 1995; The 1996 Stan McDowell Award for top writer at Globe and Mail; The “Champion of Justice Award” (presented by the U.S. National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers) in 1998; the 2002 and 2003 Justice Award for Excellence in Writing. He was a finalist in the 2003 National Newspaper Award, Beats category and in 2003 was awarded the silver medal by [...]

13 07, 2017

Wrongful Conviction Day to be held on October 2, 2017

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Save the date for Wrongful Conviction Day~October 2, 2017. 

14 05, 2017

Congratulations to Russell Silverstein

By |May 14th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Congratulations to Russell Silverstein|

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!

By |March 16th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Former AIDWYC Board Member – Edward Sapiano – Back in Action!|

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”

By |January 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Death in the Family-How Parents Fought Against “Thinking Dirty”|

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

By |January 8th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on John F Ross CVI Students Eat, Bake and Write for Justice|

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.