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Lecture

10 Wrongful conviction.docx
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Department
Law
Course
LAWS 2301
Professor
Diana Young
Semester
Fall

Description
Wrongful conviction Plea bargaining - People who are guilty can get away with a lesser charge - Wrongful convictions - Phenomenon of wrongful conviction is often referred to as “tunnel vision” (the central feature of most wrongful conviction cases) • The inability to see alternatives - People are so certain they have the right person that the whole process is then corrupted • This can lead to evidence being tainted (such as witness recollection) - Police are so convinced that they have the right person, that they convey to the witnesses the impression that they know who committed the crime. The witnesses unconsciously remember things that point to the accused. - Tunnel vision is then transmitted to other stages of the process • When the Crown gets the files from the police, they too become convinced that police have the right person. • Desire to win at the end rely on very shaky evidence. - They all fail to look with skepticism at the information given Jailhouse informants - They are people who have an agreement with the police, and often a cellmate of person who has been charged (offender), which the person (offender) may confess to the informant he committed the crime • Common until the Guy Paul Morin case (2 jailhouse informants claimed that he confessed to them while he was in custody) - Use of jailhouse informants can contribute to wrongful convictions as well • Kind of like a confederate - The people themselves facing charges and have the opportunity to make a deal. Will make a plea bargain, maybe charged dropped all together if willing to participate. Junk science - We see scientists as the ultimate, impartial person (like the CSI) • We see them as completely objective - Often, the science, when used within the wrongful conviction cases, is complete folly - Try to find evidence to inculpate the person • Makes them lose their objectivity because they too are affected by tunnel vision Defense lawyers - Lose sight of the whole “innocent until proven guilty” and fail to try their best to investigate a case - Dawn Marshall case • Defense lawyer had failed to conduct his own investigation of the witnesses. Interview them, go and see if can find own witnesses. In some cases, this lack of diligence can lead to a wrongful conviction. Morin inquiry - Confusing to read but gives an idea how one little minor point can become so central to the question of someone’s guilt.And how processes of involvement with the police can taint people’s recollection. Memory - Memory is a tricky thing • Joanna Pozzulo did a study the issue of the reliability of memory - The literature of people who are experts say it is easy to manipulate peoples’memories - Studies have shown people’s memories can be manipulated even after the introduction of the misinformation - Usually, in criminal cases in Canada, you are not allowed to call an expert witness to testify about the unreliability of memory. Judges and juries place a great deal of faith in the testimony of eye witnesses. Misallocation effect (also time slice effect) - Memory from 2 months ago is replaced to another memory of 1 month ago (conversation with somebody). Can see someone’s photo in a newspaper. See person in line memory points to them instead of first memory. - Very careful about the kind of information that convey to witnesses may be subject to suggestions and think they remember it that way when not the case. Repressed memory - Extreme example: false memory syndrome. Big issue in the 80s, memories of child sexual abuse were thought to be often repressed. Some people will see a therapist, some memories, convinced by therapist that they were abused. - Scandal in 80s in NY: a large number of employees at preschool  children became convinced were sexually abused. - Childhood sexual assault was repressed - Therapist, through the process of suggestion, influence them to believe they were sexually abused as children - Less extreme examples  the way memories can be manipulated. Gives a kind of a chronology of the way in which 2 of the primary witnesses in Morin trial were dealt with by the police. Guy Paul Morin case - Seems like a small point. Morning after the victim disappeared, the police interviewed her mother and her brother. Had been out on that date. Said that when came back she was not home. Said they got back at 4:10. Guy Paul Morin was thought of as a possible suspect. - Usually, violent offences of this kind, offender known to the victim. Looked into the neighborhood. In investigation, discovered he had been at work that date. Could not have returned home before 4:14 (earliest) after Christine’s disappearance. - By now had already decided/fairly convinced that was guilty. Questioned the mother and brother again. Were certain checked kitchen clock. Nonetheless, repeatedly interviewed  trying to get them to change their story.Actually went to dentist office and interviewed dentist and receptionist, unclear when first interviewed them (February), they thought could not have been home at 4:10 because did not leave dentist office before a certain time. - Re-interviewed them to get them to change their story. No obvious reason to choose one from the other. Need consensus.Asked a long time after disappearance. No reason to prefer one over the other. - Seemed to decide that Ken and Janet must be wrong. - Trial rather than having all witnesses take the stand and let jury decide; the police interviewed them repeatedly and eventually got the answer they wanted. - p.811 of the excerpt (bottom of the page). - By the time Morin arrested, get how time is so important. Changes her story. The clock was losing time. Interesting looking at this how the evidence is shaped as time goes on to fit what the police have already decided. - Evidence is massaged to that theory. - Crown used jail house informant + seems to have been using Ken’s and Janet’s testimony during trial. When knew that she did not throw away the clock, still used her as a witness. - Ken less willing to testify that way and considered him as unreliable witness (although his uncertainty made him more reliable). - Reliable  people who are certain. - But if consider memory, the uncertain ones are the most reliable. Means that have not been coached. Things wrong with the Morin case - Anumber of things that went wrong in the Morin case. • Alot of forensic evidence “junk science”). • Jail house informant • Contribution by the media.  In high profile cases, the media is reporting often. Putting a lot of pressure on conviction. • Also, Morin was tried twice with the same offence.  1 time acquitted. Crown appealed and convicted. nd  2 time: factually non guilty + question of insanity: said that was schizophrenic. Jury in
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