The Federal government released the Report on the Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice. This should be required reading for every prosecutor, cop, and criminal defence lawyer in the country. Federal prosecutor's report 2005
Section 465 of the Criminal Code regarding criminal conspiracy.
ST. JOHN'S, NL - Newfoundland's Crown attorney's office fostered a class of overzealous prosecutors who too often accepted police investigations that were plagued by "tunnel vision," an exhaustive inquiry into a trio of wrongful murder convictions has concluded.
You're never going to restore my confidence in the justice system
-- Ronald Dalton
Former Supreme Court justice Antonio Lamer, in a scathing 486-page report released Wednesday, said the province's prosecutors must do a better job of assessing evidence and allow for more time when preparing for complex trials.
"In sum, the Director of Public Prosecutor's Office demonstrated a Crown culture that accepted and supported the police tunnel vision," Lamer wrote. "There was no evidence before me that this culture has changed."
His report said prosecutors were too eager to accept evidence from the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, a regional police force that Lamer described as "a ship adrift."
"The (director of public prosecutions) should strive to establish and maintain a Crown culture that is sensitive to the opportunities to avoid injustice as well as to obtain convictions," Lamer wrote.
In a bid to improve the province's ailing justice system, Lamer made several dozen recommendations, the most notable being a call for an independent review of the Crown attorney's office.
The province's attorney general, Tom Marshall, said the government intends to implement every one of Lamer's recommendations, and it has already appointed a retired Newfoundland judge to lead the review.
Marshall also took the opportunity to apologize to Ronald Dalton and Randy Druken for the government's role in murder cases that would later be exposed as miscarriages of justice.
Gregory Parsons, the man at the centre of the third case in question, has already received a public apology from the government and $650,000 in compensation.
Dalton said Marshall's "half-hearted apology" gave him cold comfort.
"You're never going to restore my confidence in the justice system in this province or any other," Ronald Dalton said.
Jerome Kennedy, defence lawyer for Dalton and Parsons, welcomed the recommendations but questioned whether the justice system would be overhauled in a timely manner.
"Crown cultures are deeply seeded attitudes and beliefs, so you can put all the resources and money you want into a department, but unless you change the attitudes, you're not going to change the system itself," Kennedy said.
Lamer's wide-ranging inquiry was launched in March 2003.
He looked into the notorious cases that led to murder convictions for Parsons, Druken and Dalton.
Dalton was arrested and charged the day after his wife was found dead on Aug. 16, 1988. He was convicted of strangling her the following year.
Although an appeal was filed within weeks, the Newfoundland Court of Appeal did not hear the case until almost nine years later.
Ronald Dalton, who had always insisted his wife choked on cereal, had his conviction overturned and he was acquitted after a retrial in June 2000.
Gregory Parsons was 19 in 1991 when he found his mother dead in her St. John's home. She had been stabbed to death. In 1994, a jury convicted him of second-degree murder. He served six weeks before he was granted bail pending an appeal.
Parsons was later exonerated by DNA evidence and was formally acquitted in 1998. A former friend was later sentenced for the crime.