CRIMINAL LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION
56 Temperance Street, Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario M5H 3V5
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Alan D. Gold, President
Michael Lomer, Secretary
CRIMINAL LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION
416-214-9875 Fax: 416-214-9802
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CRIMINAL LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION WILL SEEK TO INTERVENE IN CLAYTON JOHNSON’S APPLICATION TO REVIEW HIS MURDER CONVICTION
Toronto, Ontario, May 7, 1998 — The Criminal Lawyers’ Association is seeking to intervene in support of Clayton Johnson’s application to the Minister of Justice under s. 690 of the Criminal Code for a review of his conviction for murder in the death of his wife. Mr. Johnson was convicted of first degree murder on May 4, 1993 and has been in custody for the past 5 years in the Dorchester Penitentiary in New Brunswick.
In a recent letter to the Honourable Anne McLellan, Minister of Justice and Attorney General for Canada, Alan D. Gold, President of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, advised the Minister that the Criminal Lawyers’ Association wanted to do everything it could to rectify the wrongful conviction that occurred in Mr. Johnson’s case. According to Mr. Gold, Mr. Johnson’s conviction represents yet another in a “series of tragic miscarriages of justice”.
The Criminal Lawyers’ Association is persuaded that many of the factors which led to Mr. Johnson’s conviction are systemic in nature and similar to the factors recently identified by Mr. Justice Kaufman in the Morin Commission that led to the wrongful conviction of an innocent man.
It is to be remembered just what Mr. Justice Kaufman said about systemic problems:
“The case of Guy Paul Morin is not an aberration. By that, I do not mean that I can quantify the number of similar cases in Ontario or elsewhere or that I can pass on the frequency with which innocent people are convicted in this province. We do not know. What I mean is that the causes of Mr. Morin’s conviction are rooted in systemic problems as well as the failings of individuals. It is no coincidence that the same systemic problems are those identified in wrongful convictions worldwide.”
In Mr. Johnson’s case those systemic factors include:
- the single minded pursuit of a predetermined goal by the investigating officers
- the use of “junk science” to support the theories of the police
- the role of scientific evidence and in particular the subjective opinions of witnesses that are clothed in the authority of expertise
- an over-reaching prosecution that utilized suspicion and speculation in the place of evidence
As well, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association will lobby the government to repeal and replace s. 690 of the Criminal Code to accord with the requirements of the Charter of Rights. Section 7 of the Charter states that everyone has the right to liberty and not to be deprived thereof, except in accordance with principles of fundamental justice. Foremost amongst those principles is the requirement for an independent tribunal. The Minister of Justice/Attorney General for Canada wears two hats: prosecutor and judge. It is clear that those two hats require two separate heads to fulfil the Charter requirement of an independent tribunal.