Truscott Decision

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Tommy_Paine
Truscott Decision

 

Tommy_Paine

Sometime this morning, The Ontario Court of Appeal will release it's decision.

[url=http://www.thestar.com/Article/250489]From the Toronto Star[/url]

Expect the institution of law to be protected at the expense of justice.

oldgoat
TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

wow

long time coming, I remember watching the documentary in 2000

[url=http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2007/08/28/4451471-cp.html]Miscarriage of justice[/url]

so many example of this in the Canadian Justice system

Robert Baltovich

James Driskell

Donald Marshall

David Milgaard

Guy Paul Morin

Thomas Sophonow

Ronald Dalton

Eric R. Biddle

I am so glad we don't have Capital Punishment. It makes me wonder how many other cases there are.

Wilf Day

I just heard Steven Truscott give great credit, well-deserved, to his first defender[url=http://www.toronto.ca/homesfortheaged/lebourdais.htm] Isabel LeBourdais.[/url]

quote:

Isabel was born April 15, 1909 in Toronto, the second of four children of a prominent Toronto lawyer, Frank Erichsen-Brown. Her older brother was in the Canadian diplomatic service for many years and he died in 1998 in his early 90s. One of her sisters was the novelist Gwethalyn Graham, who died in the mid-60s. Isabel grew up in Toronto, went to school at the prestigious Havergal College . . .

Her son, Julien LeBourdais, tells her story.

During the thirties and early forties, Isabel became a social activist and worked with groups such as the black community in Toronto, families of patients in Ontario mental hospitals, and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), the forerunner of the New Democratic Party. "I was very useful to the CCF," Isabel says now. She also met the man who became her second husband, D.M. "Don" LeBourdais, a party organizer and two-time political candidate, through her work with the CCF. Don, also a writer, published a total of eight books, all about Canada. She and Don married in 1942, and had two children in 1944 and 1946. She now has seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

After her marriage, Isabel wrote articles for several Canadian magazines and continued her activism by supporting the peace movement, the Voice of Women and groups committed to decriminalizing abortion in Canada. She was eventually made an honorary life member of CARAL (Canadian Association for the Repeal of the Abortion Laws) in recognition of her work.

Isabel is probably best known for her 1966 book, The Trial of Steven Truscott. Steven Truscott was a 14-year-old boy who was convicted of the brutal rape and murder of 12-year-old Lynne Harper in 1959, and sentenced to hang. Stephen's sentence was eventually commuted, and he was released from prison after serving 10 years.

The mention of Steven Truscott can still galvanize Isabel. She responded immediately with "I got angry! I got so angry!" when asked why she wrote the book. "She did not know Steven Truscott. She read about the case in the paper. And what bothered her was here was a 14-year-old sentenced to hang. That appalled her. For all she knew at that point he was totally guilty, but a 14-year-old sentenced to hang! Then she began to look into it, and the whole thing unraveled."

Isabel devoted the next five years to research and interviews for the book. She got the original transcripts of the trial, and found that Stephen had been convicted on the flimsiest of circumstantial evidence. The prosecution's case centred on a questionable time of death set by two doctors who had no experience in forensic medicine, and the testimony of several child witnesses whose stories changed every time conflicting evidence was introduced. Defence witnesses who claimed to the end that they'd seen Stephen ride back alone five minutes after dropping off Lynne, and testimony by a forensic pathologist that Lynne had died much later than the time the prosecution indicated, were ignored.

Trying to get the book published was a story all on its own. Legendary Toronto publisher Jack McClelland, of McClelland & Stewart, was a friend of theirs and had given Isabel a contract for the Truscott book. "But when she delivered the finished manuscript, M & S insisted she water down the book for so-called legal reasons. Eventually, Mom decided the book had been so weakened as to be pointless. She hired a lawyer to get her out of her contract. She had many battles with Jack McClelland - in our living room - throughout this process." Isabel tried other Canadian publishers, but they all turned her down for the same reason.

She put back everything M & S had taken out and took the manuscript to Victor Gollancz, of Gollancz Publishing in Britain. "He took the book without changing a word. Once Gollancz took the initiative, M & S immediately agreed to publish the Canadian edition, and most of its success was, naturally, in Canada. No one at any time attempted to sue her."

Isabel concluded the book by calling for a Royal Commission to investigate the trial's irregularities. This was a brave statement to make in the sixties, when people were not inclined to doubt the justice system. "Remember," says Julien, "this was before all the cases like David Milgaard, Donald Marshall and Guy Paul Morin."

The book caused an immediate sensation, and was even debated in Parliament. In the end, rather than appoint a Royal Commission, the government sent the case before the Supreme Court in 1977, where the original verdict was upheld. Only Justice Emmett Hall thought Steven should have been re-tried. The book also spawned a cottage industry of amateur "investigators" who undertook their own research. For example, magazine writer Bill Trent wrote a book called Who Killed Lynne Harper?

Isabel's book has long been out of print, but Julien says, "Interesting thing about the book: the trial was 40 years ago, the book was out 35 years ago, but I run into people quite regularly who hear the name and remember it. Every now and then there's the odd update about Steven - but it's an old story. Even so, people still say, 'Oh, I read it back then, and I remember this.'"


She died in 2003, aged 94. Incredible woman. I wish she had read the final chapter, but she sure helped write it.

Michelle

Hmm. Let's continue this [url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic&f=2&t=009051]in the earlier Truscott thread[/url] just for continuity's sake. I'll link to this thread from that one so people can see these posts too.

Michelle

Actually, I change my mind. The other thread was basically smears and innuendo. I'll leave this one open and close that one.

Tommy_Paine

I read the Isabel LeBourdais book way back when, too, and from then on I always thought that the trial of Stephen Truscott was a travesty.

What I find unfathomable is how bitterly [i]today's[/i] Crown fought against Truscott. To preserve the "reputation" of dead men who did not and do not deserve such regard? To preserve the authority and reputation of the administration of justice? Their very efforts worked against such an end.

It isn't that we should be surprised or unforgiving that people in the court system made mistakes in dealing with the rape and murder of a young woman. Such things are emotionally charged, and I won't condemn human errors made like that until I have walked that mile in those people's shoes.

But to cling to an error when all reasonable evidence indicates that a change of position is required, particularly when a fellow citizen's liberty is at stake or in fact stolen?

That, my friends is tyranny. And in fighting Steven Truscott to this very day is what the Crown was truly seeking to preserve.

The lack of self correcting mechanisms for human error in the courts, and the lack of serious jail time for Crown who deliberately and knowingly send innocent citizens to jail is indicative of an intellectually gangrenous institution we call the Ontario Court.

Politics101

Perhaps the lawyers in the crowd can help me with this one - if you are acquitted of a crime aren't you innocent - because if I understand it correctly they acquitted Truscott of the murder but didn't find him innocent.

I wonder if those who still think capital punishment is a good thing and want to reopen the debate have anything to say to this matter.

Wilf Day

quote:


Originally posted by Politics101:
[b]if you are acquitted of a crime aren't you innocent.[/b]

Yes.

quote:

Originally posted by Politics101:
[b]if I understand it correctly they acquitted Truscott of the murder but didn't find him innocent.[/b]

The media have trouble with the presumption of innocence. He is acquitted, not guilty, presumed innocent.

Politics101

Ok - there were a number of options that the courts could have taken:

1. order a new trial
2. Acquit him
3. Find him innocent

I wasn't quoting a media source but the choices that the court had and comments made at the press conference by the Ontario AG which I watched on CPAC.

It was also something that Truscott would have liked - i suspect by not finding him innocent it will mean less compensation.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

What is disturbing about the decision is that no effort is being made to identify the causes of this travesty of justice. In fact, it was stated that "no useful purpose" would be served by digging into such matters. [I'm paraphrasing from the remarks by Lyndon MacKentyre and Julian Sher on Newsworld yesterday.)

[b]Therefore, such a miscarriage of justice could happen again.[/b] Fortunately, Canada no longer has the death penalty; so, it's a small consolation that no more fourteen-year old boys will be sentenced to death in this country.

[i]Agents provocateurs[/i], horrific miscarriages of justice against the wrongly convicted, deaths of Canadians while in police custody, complicit actions of Canadian authorities in the rendering and torture of a citizen, the resignation of the highest ranking policeman (i.e., the Commissioner of the RCMP) in disgrace, etc. - all these events should give Canadians pause and lend support to abandoning the odious practice in this country of the police investigating their own misconduct.

Politics101

I think this following up article in the Globe may help answer my own question:

quote:

Still, its ruling fell short of concluding that Mr. Truscott is "factually innocent" - a conclusion he and his defence team had desperately craved in order to remove any possible doubt.

"The court is not satisfied that the appellant has been able to demonstrate his factual innocence," the judges said. "The court is not satisfied that an acquittal would be the only reasonable verdict of a new trial."

Such a conclusion would normally necessitate a new trial were it not for the unique nature of the Truscott case, the court observed. It said that, given the passage of time and the deaths of many witnesses, a new trial would be both unfair and "a practical impossibility." Moreover, even if a new trial could somehow be held, "an acquittal would clearly be the most likely result," the court said.


TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]
[i]Agents provocateurs[/i], horrific miscarriages of justice against the wrongly convicted, deaths of Canadians while in police custody, complicit actions of Canadian authorities in the rendering and torture of a citizen, the resignation of the highest ranking policeman (i.e., the Commissioner of the RCMP) in disgrace, etc. - all these events should give Canadians pause and lend support to abandoning the odious practice in this country of the police investigating their own misconduct.[/b]

that about sums up everything that is wrong with the system.

fortunately there are persistent watchdogs

Lawyers, the Wrongfully accused society, Amnesty International, Journalists, and whole communities that lobby MPs. Canadians need to persist on demanding change and accountability. The justice system is supposed to serve the citizens, not the government, not the PM's office.

This also ties into the SPP, and this is why we have to stay vigilant and oppose the SPP which will allow for more miscarriage of justice. Its going to give the police more tools to subject citizens to torture, incarceration, and deny the rights of citizens.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

Politics101: you missed one of the most important points why a new trial will never take place. Long ago, around 1966, the O.P.P. destroyed [i]all of the evidence[/i] in the Truscott case, despite the well-publicized public concern over the conviction.

In a word, the police destroyed the evidence of their own wrongdoing. Clever, eh?

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]

In a word, the police destroyed the evidence of their own wrongdoing. Clever, eh?[/b]


I don't read to much into that. DNA analysis and forensics were unknown in 1959. I do not think it is reasonable to expect evidence (from a labelled "closed case" especially) to be filed and maintained for 40 to 50 years. Also staff age and move on to be replaced over the decades. I doubt the OPP was involved in a conspiritorial cover up for several decades, which would have to involve scores of people, if not possibly hundreds of individuals.

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

DNA evidence is not the only form of evidence. But the O.P.P. destroyed [i]all[/i] of the evidence in a case they already knew to be controversial.

Nice touch with the straw man "conspiracy" angle though. That's a great way to argue. Not.

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]

Nice touch with the straw man "conspiracy" angle though. [/b]


you introduced the angle via innuendo. your emphaisis on certain words suggested this. If I misinterpreted your intent I am sorry.

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: TemporalHominid ]

tostig

My question is how Truscott managed to meet a girl, get married and raise a family while in prison.

[ 29 August 2007: Message edited by: tostig ]

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

I didn't use the word [i]conspiracy[/i] to describe the conduct of the O.P.P. in this matter. That's why I put the word, "conspiracy" in quotation marks - it was [b]your[/b] choice of words, not mine.

It's well known that legitimate critics of the misconduct of state authorities are routinely characterized as "conspiracy theorists" as a way to trivialize their concerns. Maybe you should refrain from mimicking that practice?

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by tostig:
[b]My question is how Truscott managed to meet a girl, get married and raise a family while in prison.

[/b]


I think he was released on parole in 1969?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


I do not think it is reasonable to expect evidence (from a labelled "closed case" especially) to be filed and maintained for 40 to 50 years.

You would expect for a case under continuous appeal though, wouldn't you?

TemporalHominid TemporalHominid's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Frustrated Mess:
[b]
You would expect for a case under continuous appeal though, wouldn't you?[/b]

as per posts above we can expect a lot of things.

We can expect tunnel vision from the various parts of the justice system, incompetence, human error, a zealous persistence from the prosecutors. We can expect 2nd and 3rd opinions to be considered into evidence, we can expect witnesses not to be excluded.

We can also expect watchdogs to illustrate these characteristics of human beings and the justice system and the failings in all wrongful conviction cases.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

quote:


Originally posted by TemporalHominid:
[b]

We can also expect watchdogs to illustrate these characteristics of human beings and the justice system and the failings in all wrongful conviction cases.[/b]


IN ALL WRONGFUL CONVICTION CASES.

Where can I buy my rose coloured glasses?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

[url=http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/07/07/truscott-bentley.html]Steven Truscott to get $6.5M for wrongful conviction[/url]

I just watched an hour long story on Truscott by Linden MacIntyre on CBC's The Fifth Estate - excellent.