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Victims' group attacks promotion of lawyer

kmac

TRIBE Member
Victims' group attacks promotion of lawyer in Morin's wrongful conviction

NEENA CHOWDHURY

TORONTO (CP) - Appointing the lawyer at the centre of the wrongful conviction of Guy Paul Morin to the bench goes to show that careers are built on criminal convictions - no matter who gets hurt, members of a group representing the wrongfully accused said Monday.

"Some prosecutors and some judges just don't care how they get those convictions and that's why there must be accountability," said Rubin (Hurricane) Carter, a former American boxer who was convicted in the mid-1960s for a triple murder he didn't commit.

Carter and Paul Copeland of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted, as well as James Lockyer, who represented Morin in the 1997 inquiry into his wrongful conviction in the death of nine-year-old Christine Jessop, were at a news conference to protest the appointment last month of Crown attorney Susan MacLean to the Ontario Court of Justice.

On the same day MacLean was sworn in in Whitby just east of Toronto, Carter criticized her promotion, saying she "should not have been a judge."

MacLean was the only prosecutor to pursue Morin through both his 1986 trial and 1992 retrial for the murder of Jessop, the Queensville, Ont., youngster who was a neighbour of Morin's.

Morin was eventually cleared in 1995 in Jessop's death, and her murderer was never found.

Justice Fred Kaufman, who headed the inquiry into Morin's wrongful conviction, said Morin was a victim of flimsy evidence, terrible judgment and "tunnel vision" by police and prosecutors.

MacLean testified that she felt there was a lot of evidence that pointed to Morin's guilt, but two days later she apologized for her position.

Lockyer said it's not uncommon for people involved in controversial high-profile cases to get promoted - which is a concern in the justice system.

"Time after time people involved in these cases subsequently get promoted as if nothing happened," said Lockyer.

"The purpose of today . . . is to try and make sure it doesn't happen again more than anything."

Copeland, director of the association, said the justice system refuses to deal with the individuals responsible for wrongful convictions.

There's "an unwillingness to punish them, an unwillingness to reflect on what they did in any serious way, (an) unwillingness to have any consequences for them," he said.

However, a spokesman in the office of Attorney General Michael Bryant said the government defends the judicial process and the province's appointment of MacLean.

"It's a process that has received nothing but praise over the years," said Greg Crone, adding that MacLean "will make a great judge."
 
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