Amanda Carling, AIDWYC Legal Education Counsel
It has been just over a month since Netflix released Making a Murderer and it has been devoured by people around the world. As an organization dedicated to preventing wrongful convictions and exonerating the innocent, AIDWYC is pleased with the attention this series has brought to our work. On the other hand, we fear that Steven Avery’s case and the buzz it has created could do more harm than good. Case in point? The op-ed from Professor Michael Arntfield titled Rest easy: an unfair trial like Steve Avery’s won’t happen in Canada, published on January 13 in the Globe and Mail, Debates section.
While it is important for the public to understand that most police officers and prosecutors are not out to frame the wrong guy, Professor Arntfield’s unduly rosy outlook flies in the face of what those in the field have seen in actual wrongful conviction cases across Canada – past and present. AIDWYC has exonerated 20 innocent people who together spent almost 200 years in prison. We are currently reviewing upwards of 100 cases. It is with this experience and expertise that we respectfully disagree with Professor Arntfield’s conclusion that a highly questionable conviction like Avery’s is unlikely to happen in present-day Canada.
Professor Arntfield would have Canadians believe that tunnel vision akin to that exhibited in Avery’s case is, in Canada, a thing of the past – a problem solved by virtue of “binding case law” and “official recommendations arising as a result of formal judicial inquiries.” While it is true many judges have identified tunnel vision in cases before them, and have encouraged efforts to avoid it, the thing about tunnel vision is you can’t ‘make it [...]