Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bulletin: Ivan Henry; British Columbia; Canadian Press reports: "A British Columbia Crown lawyer says the province should be off the hook in a lawsuit over a wrongful conviction because prosecutors wouldn't necessarily have known back in 1982 that withholding contradictory evidence from the accused could have helped his case. Ivan Henry is suing the province for compensation in B.C. Supreme Court after he spent 27 years in prison for 10 sexual-assault convictions before being acquitted in 2010." Story is headed: "Crown lawyers in 1982 Ivan Henry wrongful-conviction case didn't know any better: lawyer."

"British Columbia should be off the hook in a $43-million wrongful-conviction lawsuit dating back to 1982 because prosecutors at the time may not have known that withholding contradictory evidence from the accused could have hamstrung his defence, says a Crown lawyer. Ivan Henry is suing the province for compensation in B.C. Supreme Court after he was convicted on 10 sexual-assault charges and spent 27 years behind bars before his 2010 acquittal. His lawyers have said he deserves up to $43 million in compensation. In closing arguments on Tuesday, Crown lawyer John Hunter said the legal culture was different in the early 1980s and prosecutors weren’t expected to disclose all their evidence to the defence. “Put yourself in the shoes of a prosecutor in 1982,” said Hunter. “We know now that that’s what should be done. ... But I say that wasn’t known then.” The undisclosed evidence included sperm samples that failed to match Henry’s blood type, contradictory victim statements and a compromising hand-written letter from a complainant sent to the home address of an investigating officer. Hunter dismissed the defence’s suggestion that the case’s key prosecutor, Michael Luchenko, who has since died, intentionally withheld evidence, and he understood doing so would compromise Henry’s ability to defend himself in court. “It was a different time. A prosecutor’s conduct should be evaluated not on the basis of what we know now but what they knew then.” Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson challenged Hunter several times, questioning the attorney’s assertion that Luchenko didn’t understand the implications of his actions. “I wouldn’t think it’s much of a leap for a prosecutor to look at statements that have inconsistencies and think, ’Gee, that might assist the defendant,”’ he told Hunter. “I can’t imagine how you would come to any other conclusion.” Hinkson also noted that Henry and one of his lawyers were denied documents they specifically requested from the Crown. Hunter responded that Henry dismissed the lawyer who requested the evidence after only a few weeks on the job and his subsequent legal counsel didn’t make that exact same request. “Henry repeated it serially,” interrupted Hinkson. “Surely Mr. Luchenko must have said to himself, ’I’m not going to give them what they’re asking for.’ What other conclusion can I draw?” “I don’t know,” replied Hunter, adding that if Henry had really wanted the documents he or his new lawyer should have been more specific. “He didn’t know what the Crown had,” said Hinkson. “That’s his problem. He couldn’t ask for anything specific, because he didn’t know.” “That’s how it was handled at the time,” Hunter said, explaining that defence lawyers in the early 1980s could ask the judge for evidence that wasn’t forthcoming from the Crown..........The province is expected to wrap up its final arguments by Thursday, after which Henry’s lawyers will have until the end of the week for a reply. The federal government and the City of Vancouver were also named in the lawsuit but both have since settled with Henry for undisclosed amounts."