The prize has to go to George Dangerfield, the Granddaddy of all Bad Crowns. His list of wrongful convictions is up to 4 now and counting. These were not traffic violations but murders that cost people 53 years of unnecessary jail time because he could not do his job correctly. He successfully convicted Frank Ostrowski Sr., Thomas Sophonow, James Driskell, and Kyle Unger for murders they did not commit. Way to go George! Knock 'em dead!
-- Gets no respect. injusticebusters.org
The lawyers who prosecute criminals in this province have banded together to form their own association. While the Saskatchewan Crown Attorneys Association (SCAA) isn't a full-fledged union, it will work to further the group's goals on everything from wages to professional development, president Matthew Miazga said during a recent interview.
"We realize there's nobody to speak for us as a group," said Matthew Miazga, a Saskatoon crown prosecutor. There are currently 83 crown prosecutors in Saskatchewan, and about 75% from across the province have opted to join the association to date.
Saskatchewan's prosecutors voted in favour of creating the association during their annual meeting earlier this month. It's the last province to form a group representing its crown counsel. Some provincial organizations, such as the one in Manitoba, are unionized.
March, 1999: Terry Hinz is a career prosecutor in Saskatoon. When an inquiry was called for regarding the mistakes and embarrassments which were made in Martensville, he chose which files were sent to Judge Gold in Alberta for review. He carefully left out the files pertaining to the foster parent trials which were related. The public believed that the entire files on both cases were under review and when the inquiry was completed and no wrong-doing was found, Richard Quinney deliberately continued this public deception.
Hinz is now acting for Officers Hatchen and Munson, the officers who admitted to driving Darrell Night to the edge of Saskatoon in freezing weather and left him to die. Night survived and sparked a public outcry after carefully proceeding through a lawyer to bring publicity to this matter before it could be covered up. The FSIN and other Native organizations have been calling for the firing of these cops and a full public inquiry. Hinz is representing the Crown and succceeded in keeping the inquiry into these two officers in camera.
Sonja Hansen and Matthew Miazga prosecuted sixteen people from a list of forty names provided by Sgt. Brian Dueck and Carol Bunko Ruys regarding allegations made by three children. There has been no explanation for why they chose those particular sixteen people to prosecute. The evidence Dueck provided was many hours of videotaped interviews conducted at the Saskatoon Police Station during October, 1991.
The children alleged that birth parents, foster parents and assorted relatives had held "baby barbecues," "swearing parties," "sex abuse parties," "drinking blood parties" etc. Many of these people had not ever met or even heard of each other, much less get together for social occasions such as the children describe. The children allege babies were buried in the backyard of a specific address. No effort was made to substantiate this or any other of the children's preposterous stories. Read Miazga's own words as quoted by Dan Zakreski in the StarPhoenix June 19, 1999 feature, "Lies and Shattered Lives."
Nonetheless, lengthy preliminary hearings were held and twelve people were ordered to stand trial. The first three, Helen R., Don R., and Don W. were convicted and eventually received acquittals of sorts from the Supreme Court. Charges against the others were ordered stayed in January, 1993. However, the accused were not informed of this and Peter Klassen accepted a plea bargain because he was told that by doing so he could save eight members of his family. The bargain Crown Prosecutor Miazga made was to ask for a two year sentence. The judge gave him a four year sentence of which he served every day. He was not ever elligible for parole because he could not re-enact and receive therapy for crimes he did not commit.
Never mind that the Crown Prosecutors' office in Saskatoon could not make the charges stick in the Foster Parent case. Bruce Bauer and Nancy Sullivan went ahead and laid charges in what came to be known as the Martensville case. These people don't seem to learn from their mistakes. and if they are not brought to account, they just go right on making them.
Martensville was the longest and most expensive jury trial so far in Saskatchewan. Nancy Sullivan was heard bragging to several people that she expected to make her career out of this case. While it was going on, Sullivan received an achievement recognition award from the Saskatoon YWCA. While the Martensville trial was building up steam, the convictions of Ross, Ross and White sat at the Saskatchewan Appeal Court for seventeen months. This is an extraordinary length of time for appeal court judges to make up their minds. Were they waiting for the outcome in Martensville or delaying their decision to help the Martensville Crowns get a conviction? Those were the questions we asked at the time.
Although Saskatchewan Appeal Court upheld the convictions in Ross, Ross and White, Mr. Justice Vancise's dissent allowed an automatic appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada where White's conviction was quashed and new trials were ordered for the Rosses.
From the Saskatoon StarPhoenix feature "Lies and Shattered Lives," June 19, 1999, referring to a hearing arranged by defence lawyer Reg Parker:
In 1994, Stanley Hepner (Peter Klassen) launched an appeal to allow for the admission of new evidence in a bid to overturn his earlier guilty plea. The testimony of Crown Prosecutor Matthew Miazga on May 26, 1994 revealed the political concerns of senior Justice officials in Regina with the potential stay of proceedings against the thirteen people charged in the case.
Miazga testified under questioning that Stanley Hepner had originally offered to plead guilty to one count of sexual assault in exchange for the dropping of the outstanding charges against his family.
"And my response to that was that was not sufficient," Miazga said.
"We had just been -- we just had convicted three people who for the most part no one ever thought we had a chance to get those convictions, including myself, quite frankly, from time t time. And we couldn't just suddenly dismiss everything these children had said about these other individuals and I said that was not going to be sufficient for me to take to discuss with my colleagues."
Miazga testified how he negotiated for Hepner to plead guilty to one assault and take responsibility for the assaults on Tom, Mary and Julie (Michael, Michelle and Kathy).
"I would recommend to Regina that that would be sufficient resolution of the case in light of all the other things that I had mentioned earlier."
Miazga related how he travelled to Regina with co-prosecutor Sonja Hansen to meet with Richard Quinney, director of public prosecutions, senior bureaucrat Daryl Rayner and lawyer Carol Snell.
The senior officials were concerned about dismissing the case on a single plea bargain.
"Well the meeting was -- it went on for some time and there was quite a lot of concern on the part of, again, the senior people on our department about resolving a case in this way where it would be an obvious plea negotiation," he said.
"In particular at that time I recall there had been a resolution of a murder trial . . . and it had resulted in a lot of very negative commentary about plea bargaining and plea negotiations.
"And at that time head office, in my view, was extremely sensitive to what would be vieweed as a plea bargain and wanted to make sure this was not -- that this was the right thing to do."
Miazga said the meeting concluded with the Saskatoon Crowns told that "we should go back to defence counsel and see whether or not anyone else was prepared to plead guilty because our view was there was a reasonable probability of convicion in regards to some of the other people in the Hepner family and we should pursue that. And I did so."
In the end, however, the charges were dropped against the Hepners and Marcuses (Kvellos) in exchange for Stanley Hepner pleading guilty to the four charges. (The full text of Saskatoon StarPhoenix June 19 feature "Lies and Shattered Lives")
inJusticebusters actually know there are some ethical prosecutors out there. But more and more young lawyers are coming into the system with more ambition than ethics. If they believe they can get away with it, they will do it.
A further troubling aspect of prosecution in Saskatchewan: As more and more charges come before the courts, legal aid and court appointed defence lawyers are so busy they don't have time to actually review their clients' cases so they rely on prosecutors to accurately present the case against them. Some prosecutors take advantage of this fact to outright lie.
This is another reason while every charged person should see and have in his/her hands a copy of the Crown's disclosure. See our Court Advice