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Conviction: The Innocence Canada Blog

26 09, 2017

Clayton Johnson Obituary

By |September 26th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Clayton Johnson Obituary|

Clayton is survived by his mother Irma of Shelburne; his daughters Darla (Jody) Nickerson of Barrington, NS and Dawn (Dean) Atkinson of Barrington, NS, his grandchildren Logan and Lucas Nickerson, Brett and Fayth Atkinson; and his siblings Allen (Diane) of Pictou, Patricia Darling of Shelburne, Linda (Bruce) Thomas of Thomasville, Michael (Darlene) of Halifax, Mary (Alex) Bower of Jordan Bay, Robert (Catharine) of Halifax and Barbara of Upper Tantallon and many nieces and nephews . He is preceded in death by father Norman and wife Janice (Cotter).
Clayton was born on October 14, 1945, at Bruce’s Nursing Home in Shelburne. He was a kind, generous and compassionate man who had a deep faith in God. In his early career, he taught industrial arts at Lockeport Regional High School. Prior to his retirement, he ran a successful contracting business. He had a passion for woodworking and carpentry. Clayton enjoyed spending time with family and friends sharing laughs, playing cards or board games and enjoyed watching baseball.
He was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend who will be dearly missed by everyone who knew him.
Services will be held at Huskilson’s Funeral Home in Shelburne:
Celebration of Life: Sept 29, 2017 from 7 – 9 pm 
Funeral: Sept 30, 2017 at 2 pm, with a reception to follow. Pastor Wayne Dooks will officiate the ceremony. Family flowers only. Donations can be made to Agape Cafe Youth Center through Huskilson’s Funeral Home.
Condolences can be sent to
The family would like to thank the staff at Yarmouth and Roseway Hospitals.

25 09, 2017

Innocence Canada News

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A major thrust to cut delays and move cases of potential innocence forward more rapidly is heralding changes from top to bottom of the organization.

The changes include an all-encompassing review of our entire case backlog, modifications to how cases are handled and transformations in the roles of some IC staff members.

“After a good deal of discussion and some soul-searching scrutiny of our operations, the Board of Directors is determined to focus as vigorously as possible on our central mission – detecting innocent people and getting them out of prison,” said Ron Dalton, Co-President of Innocence Canada and an exoneree who spent ten years behind bars for a murder he did not commit.

Due to the finite resources available to address a very large caseload; a limited number of expert senior lawyers available to complete the applications; and the need to prioritize the number of cases we can realistically address in any given year, backlogs have grown and legal action has lagged. “We have to focus our efforts more carefully, recruit new talent and set realistic expectations,” says Executive Director Debbie Oakley.

She said that pro bono case reviewers are being asked to ensure a minimum of delay and a high quality of legal research and preparation. As much as possible, reviewers will remain with promising cases as their case moves forward, ensuring continuity and recognizing their dedication. Special emphasis will be put on expeditiously completing the final stage of an application – the writing of legal factums that lay out arguments and evidence.

“There may be particular occasions where the specialized Brief drafting work will even be modestly remunerated,” Oakley says. “The pro bono model is a vital part of our history [...]

22 09, 2017

In Memoriam: Clayton Norman Johnson (October 14, 1945 – September 20, 2017)

By |September 22nd, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on In Memoriam: Clayton Norman Johnson (October 14, 1945 – September 20, 2017)|

Clayton Johnson, a man respected for his quiet courage, dedication to family, friends and his faith lost his valiant fight against heart and lung disease on Wednesday, September 20, 2017.

Clayton was born in the quaint, picturesque town of Shelburne, Nova Scotia in a nursing home, as there was no hospital in Shelburne at the time.

Clayton was an unassuming, kind, generous and loving man whose inner strength and deep faith helped him endure being convicted and incarcerated for six years. He was later proven not only to be innocent but that no crime had occurred.

We extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Clayton’s two daughters, Darla and Dawn and their families, to his mother Irma, and to his siblings Allen, Pat, Linda, Mike, Mary, Robert and Barbara and their families and all those that are mourning his passing.

He has left those who loved him many happy memories to cherish.

It was an honour for the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) to have assisted in helping Clayton to clear his name. He won the respect of everyone who was involved in his case. He will forever be in our thoughts and hearts.

Be at peace Clayton.

23 08, 2017

Upcoming CPD! Between a Rock and a Hard Place: False Guilty Pleas and Wrongful Convictions

By |August 23rd, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Upcoming CPD! Between a Rock and a Hard Place: False Guilty Pleas and Wrongful Convictions|

The wrongful convictions of Anthony Hanemaayer, Simon Marshall and Dinesh Kumar are proof of the frailties of our plea system in Canada. Anthony Hanemaayer pled guilty to a crime that Paul Bernardo later confessed to. Simon Marshall pled guilty to several offenses including seven sexual assaults and was later cleared of all through DNA testing. Dinesh Kumar traded in his second-degree murder charge for criminal negligence causing death, with a 90 day sentence to be served on weekends. With that he avoided competing with the expert opinion of the now discredited Charles Smith and his case was not reported to immigration officials. These false guilty pleas are some of the egregious, high profile cases that make it to the headlines. What about the ones we don’t hear about? The ones that happen daily in courts across Canada?

Our panelists will explore the complex issue of false guilty pleas-why people do it, who is most at risk and the role of the Crown, defence lawyers and the judiciary. The program will also make recommendations for reform.

Speakers Include:

Justice David Cole, Ontario Court of Justice
Jerome Kennedy Q.C., Innocence Canada Director and lawyer
Amanda Carling, Manager of Indigenous Affairs, University of Toronto
Others to be confirmed

LSUC accreditation is pending.

To register go to

If you have any questions, please contact Aneidah Naidoo, Legal Education Counsel at

Big thanks to the Law Foundation of Ontario for their continuous support of Innocence Canada’s legal education program and to the OBA Foundation for generously donating the space for this event.

19 08, 2017

Caitlin Pakosh awarded the Walter Owen Book Prize

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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

By |July 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Innocence Canada Welcomes Kirk Makin as the New Co-President|

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

By |July 13th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Wrongful Conviction Day to be held on October 2, 2017|

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

By |April 10th, 2017|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Innocence Network Conference in San Diego|

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