Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Urgent Action: Innocent Aboriginal Man Seeking Judicial Review for Wrongful Conviction

I would urge all readers to take a few minutes to engage in this action. If you are bloggers, it would be great if you could post this material on your own site or link to it. In many situations, writing letters is a sufficiently pointless exercise that I would not recommend wasting your energy on it, but in circumstances like that of John Moore's, showing the government that people around the country and even around the world are watching is one key way to ensure that justice might actually be done. I've gotten to know John a little bit in my time in Sudbury, because he has been involved in anti-poverty struggles and the group that I have been participating in has been involved in supporting his struggle for justice. He has lots of support locally, but we need to put some pressure on at the national level. I would encourage everyone to write a letter or two (or use the sample letter at the bottom of this post) in support of his request for a judicial review of his wrongful and racist conviction.

Please note, if you are a little uncomfortable with the idea of intervening in a case that you have only just heard of, that you are not asking for some sort of arbitrary overturning of the conviction, but rather that the federal government take action that is well within its power to ensure due process in the case by starting a judicial review.

Here is some background:

John Moore, an Ojibway man from Serpent River First Nation, spent 10 years (from 1978 to 1988) in Millhaven, for a murder he did not commit. John Moore is asking the Justice Department to review his unconstitutional 2nd degree murder conviction.

After being sentence in 1978, the law under which he was tried was repealed in 1987. “If he were to go to trial today on exactly the same facts and evidence, the murder charge would never get past the stage of a preliminary inquiry. He wouldn’t even have to stand on it today”, said lawyer Glenn Sandberg.

John Moore has petitioned the federal justice department several times to clear his name in the 1978 murder of a Sault Ste. Marie taxi cab driver (Regina versus Moore). Court records show Moore was not present at the crime scene, yet he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second degree murder because, the Crown argued, he spoke to the two killers about the premeditated crime before it happened.

At the time of his conviction, Canadian law held that even though there was evidence to show Moore was not at the murder scene but in fact with other people, he could be found guilty of the crime because, on an objective standard, he ought to have known the crime could have happened.

Moore argues that his conviction was a case of guilt by association. Not only an association with the men who actually took a man’s life, but judicial prejudice that come with being a native man in a non-native justice system. “There is no doubt in my mind that I was convicted because of racism,” said Moore, who was tried by an all-white jury.

Although Moore has exhausted all his avenues of appeal, there is a section in the Criminal Code, which gives special powers to the Minister of Justice to order an appeal or a new trial in special circumstances.

Considering that several people convicted of murder were later found to be innocent - David Milgaard, Donald Marshall, Guy Paul Morin - the justice department should review cases such as Moore’s.

Despite his release from prison, Moore stresses that punishment continues with the stigmatization of a conviction of murder charge. He continues to serve a sentence of life of parole reporting to officers on a monthly basis and asking permission to leave the city of Sudbury to return home.

While he was in jail, Moore also lost several important people in his life, including a son, his father, and grandmother. Further, he faces inability to find meaningful work due to his conviction.

Please write a letter of support (see sample below) for John Moore calling for a judicial review of his case leading to exoneration.

For more information or to support John directly, please contact:

John Moore, 3 Eyre Street, Sudbury, Ontario, P3C 4A2, 705.673.9576
Denis Michel, John Moore’s Lawyer, 36 Elgin Street, Sudbury,
Ontario, P3C 5B4, 705.674.1976


Here are a few politicians that you could send your letter to. The first one is probably the most important, so if you are only able to send one then send it to him. It would also be useful to send it to your own MP. If you are feeling really ambitious, why not CC: the national media?

The Honourable Robert Douglas Nicholson, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, 239 Kent Street 306 Justice Building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613.992.4621
Fax:613.990.7255
Email: webadmin(at)justice.gc.ca

The Honourable Mr.Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613.992.4275
Fax: 613.947.9475
Email: infoPubs(at)ainc-inac.gc.ca

The Right Honourable, Mr. Stephen Joseph Harper, The Prime Minister of Canada, The House of Commons, Prime Minister’s Office, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613.992.4211
Fax: 613.941.6900
Email: pm(at)pm.gc.ca

Mrs. Diane Marleau, The House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
Telephone: 705.673.7107
Fax: 705.673.0944
Email: info(at)dianemarleau.com

Mr. Raymond Bonin, The House of Commons, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0A6
Telephone: 705.897.2222
Fax: 613.995.9100
Email: boninr(at)parl.gc.ca


And here is the sample letter:

(DATE)

Robert Douglas Nicholson
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
239 Kent Street, 306 Justice Building
Ottawa, Ontario
CANADA, K1A 0A6

Dear Honourable Minister Nicholson,

Re: Judicial Review of John Moore’s Case

I am writing to ask for an immediate judicial review of John Moore’s 2nd degree murder case. John Moore is an Ojibway man from Serpent River First Nation who spent 10 years (from 1978 to 1988) in Millhaven Penitentiary for a murder he did not commit.

John Moore was convicted of 2nd degree murder in 1978 under a law which was later repealed in 1987. The same evidence for which he spent time in jail would no longer stand up in a court of law. Many also believe there is ample evidence to indicate that racial profiling was a key factor leading to his false conviction.

His wrongful conviction continues to follow him today as he reports to a parole office on a monthly basis and must be granted permission to leave the city of Sudbury. This is impeding his freedom of movement and capacity to find meaningful work.

Mr. Moore has repeatedly asked for a review of his case, but these requests have not been granted. I believe that you have a duty to grant a judicial review of Mr. Moore’s case, particularly considering that several people convicted of murder were later found to be innocent, including David Milgaard, Donald Marshall, and Guy Paul Morin.

Please uphold principles of justice and equality in our legal system, and promptly grant a review of John Moores’ case. I will continue to follow this issue with great interest and look forward to hearing of progress.

Sincerely,
(YOUR NAME HERE)


Please write!


(Thanks to CF and GK for the background material and the sample letter.)

1 comment:

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