Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wrongful Conviction Day: October 2, 2014. A sampling of just a few of the scheduled events as momentum builds - and there are still four days to go.

COUNTDOWN: 4 days to Wrongful Conviction Day: (Thursday October 2, 2014);

PUBLISHER'S VIEW: "As our very first Wrongful  Conviction Day  approaches,  thanks to the initiative  of The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted - and in particular, Win Wahrer, AIDWYC's Director of Client Services  (the heart and soul of AIDWYC) who had the visionary idea of initiating a "Wrongful Conviction Day -  it is dazzling to see the array of projects that have been created in to commemorate the special day in different parts of the world. (When I first checked out "Wrongful Conviction Day" - before AIDWYC had announced its initiative, there were six entries under "Wrongful Conviction Day." There are now, at the time of posting, some 20,700 entries on the Internet.)  Some  events have been organized by organizations, some by individuals. Some are educational; Some have been geared towards specific cases. But all of the have a common denominator: A passionate desire to rid the world of wrongful convictions, to remedy those that have occurred, and to prevent them from occurring in the future. They also share  a common goal of educating people to how frail our criminal justice systems are,  how great the risk of a wrongful conviction can be,  the harm that wrongful convictions cause to individuals, to their families, and to society at large - and a healthy obsession to do something about it, no matter where the injustices may occur. Here is a sample of just a few  of the events scheduled for Thursday October 3, 2014."

Harold Levy. Publisher. The Charles Smith Blog.

I will start with The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted because of the important role it has played in creating and promoting Wrongful Conviction Day. James Lockyer will deliver a lecture entitled  Preventing and Rectifying Wrongful Convictions by Understanding Their Causes.  Lockyer is a co-founder of AIDWYC  and the lead lawyer  who represented many of the wrongly convicted who were eventually exonerated such as Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Steven Truscott, Clayton Johnson and Romeo Phillion. Prof. Tim Moore, York University, will make a presentation on false confessions. Moore says he chose this topic for the first Wrongful Conviction Day because, ""False confessions are among the leading causes of wrongful convictions.  Social scientists have shed considerable light on the investigative tactics that put people at risk for confessing falsely.  There are viable alternatives to current practices.  It is time to start using them."At a reception, generously hosted by the Law Society of Upper Canada, another supporter of Wrongful Conviction Day,   Exoneree John Artis, who at the age of 19 was convicted of a triple murder along with his co-accused boxer Rubin Hurricane Carter, will speak. He spent 15 years incarcerated in New Jersey prisons because he refused to lie. John Artis had this to say regarding his wrongful conviction:"Devoid of any evidence or fact, authorities attempted to have me state that Rubin Carter was a murderer, to assist in convicting Rubin and sending him to the electric chair, for the promise that I would be released. In reality, it would have wrongfully convicted two innocent people and sent both of us to our deaths. I refused. Integrity is an innate, immeasurable, uncompromising quality." Exoneree, Ron Dalton who was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife, Brenda in Newfoundland, will speak. He spent nine years incarcerated and thanks to his own efforts and that of Newfoundland  lawyer Jerome Kennedy, was exonerated in 2000.

The Irish  Innocence Project is holding a special event to which the public is nvited which will include family members of the Justice for Harry Gleeson group, who have been working with the Irish Innocence Project to clear the name of Harry Gleeson, believed to have been wrongly executed for the murder of his neighbor Moll McCarthy more than 70 years ago, although the legacy of his hanging impacts the family still. The Harry Gleeson case was featured on Prime Time on July 24, 2014.

The California Innocence Project's event at the California Western School of Law
will start with a meet and with Southern California exonerees followed by a lecture by  From California Innocence Project director Justin Brooks entitled: "Ethical Implications of Post Conviction Cases." At the conclusion of the instruction, Brooks  will lead a round table discussion with the exonerees.

The Faculty of Law at The University of Manitoba is presenting  an address by Kim Pate, a specialist in the area of human right, on the subject of "Convicting women: Easy to do Well nigh impossible to undo." Pate is Ariel Sallows Chair in Human Rights, University of Saskatchewan and Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. The event is being  presented in conjunction with Student Advocates for Justice, and the Feminist Legal Forum.

University of Windsor Law School: Prof. David Tanovich will be delivering a special lecture on the perverse role that "race" can play in wrongful convictions entitled "The Salience of Race".

But the first Wrongful Conviction day is about more than events. It is also about a a buzz that is growing on the Internet through cyberspace. One of my favourite's  is the campaign by Christine Bivens, who believes her daughter has been wrongly convicted is to have over 10,000 people share stories of the wrongly convicted  through social media such as Facebook,  Twitter,  Circles and Pinterest.  Ms. Bivens  is also planning  to send emails to all Ontario Members of the Legislature  asking them to reflect back on wrongful convictions and to look forward to making changes to stop wrongful Convictions before they occur. (Her web page is Another web-related project  (sponsored by "Justice Not Politics"  also plans to make use of  cyberspace by launching a "thunderclap"on October 2nd at noon in which a minimum 100 people will  follow under their social media accounts and  simultaneously blast out  a Wrongful Conviction Day   message out all at once. This project can be accessed at:

Wrongful Conviction Day is also generating some discussion on the Internet such as my fellow  Blogger Susan Chandler, also known as "The Wobbly Warrier," from her always stimulating Blog of the same name.  In a recent post she observes that there would be no need for Wrongful Conviction Day if you cleaned up corruption. The post is about a former judge sent to prison for taking bribes.

And that's just some of the activity with three  more days to go before the big one. (Without going into details of the newspaper articles and radio shows). Lots more coming. Lots of discussion. Lots of awareness. That's what it's all about.

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

For background on Wrongful Conviction Day see the following link:
Interested participants may sign up by contacting Win Wahrer of The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted at:


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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;