- People who are guilty can get away with a lesser charge
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
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
• Also, Morin was tried twice with the same offence.
1 time acquitted. Crown appealed and convicted.
2 time: factually non guilty + question of insanity: said that was schizophrenic.