Administration of Criminal Justice: Wrongful Conviction

Quick Info
(5010D.03)  Seminar
L. Johnson; Adjunct Professor
3 credit(s)  2 hour(s);
Discussion, participation
Upper Year Research & Writing Requirement

It has been said that wrongful convictions are a triple failure of the justice system because an innocent person is wronged, a guilty person remains unaccountable, and the victim’s loved ones must contend with having blamed the wrong person. It is all but impossible to determine the precise number of wrongful convictions that occur in Canada for many reasons, but there are some indicators: to date, Innocence Canada has successfully exonerated 24 people; in the U.S., the National Registry of Exonerations currently lists 3,166 exonerations since 1989.

This course will explore both the causes of wrongful convictions and the various remedial approaches adopted by different jurisdictions, as well as safeguards put in place to attenuate the risk of wrongful convictions. In particular, you will study the following leading causes of wrongful convictions: adversarial excess, police and prosecutorial misconduct, tunnel vision, inadequate disclosure, frail identification evidence, false confessions, jailhouse informants, inadequate defence, and faulty forensic testing and junk science.

With respect to remedial options, you will learn about how Canadian exonerations are achieved through section s.696.1 of the Criminal Code. In addition, this course will examine the findings and recommendations of the various Canadian Commissions of Inquiry designed to explain and analyze the causes of a wrongful conviction in particular cases.