Sunday, August 03, 2008

The term wrongful conviction is a broad term, a very broad term indeed. In reality it is a flowery term that displays error, but in most cases does not address the real root of the problem unless exerted pressure from the public is sufficient to erode the very infrastructure of the process itself.
If one takes the time to research cases of proven wrongful conviction, it is prudent to deduce that in all cases, the problems either stemmed from sloppy investigations of the crime or corrupt practises on the part of the police and judiciary. In many cases the wrongful convictions were the result of a combination of both.
Unfortunately, when a wrongful conviction becomes apparent, never do we simply see a politician or senior police official rise to his or her feet and simply say, "we screwed up." No, no, no you will never see or hear that. If that were the case, politicians would be trampling on other politicians, police officers would be breaking that silence code that exists among their ranks, and lawyers would be in violation of their favourite old adage stating that "it is better for one thousand guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to go to the gallows."
It is important to note, and again statistics will bear me out on this, wrongful conviction numbers are much higher in certain parts of the country as compared to others. The provinces of Ontario and Quebec carries by far the highest wrongful conviction rates in Canada. True, these two provinces have the highest population, however, in terms of sheer numbers the count is staggering.
Lets take a look at Ontario for a moment. Do you listen to the news? If you do not, you should, because the number of people who have been wrongly convicted there at the hands of the Ontario judiciary in the past few years is abhorrent. It is not something from the past, it is still going on. Many have been convicted because of drummed up reports by people unqualified to act as pathologists on the part of government. The government is now beginning to admit this. They have no choice. Did the government admit to this as a result of their own findings? Not a chance. They had no choice because the people took a stand on the matter. People who obviously had no connections to these crimes are now being set free. There are many more to go yet.
You will recall very recently the conclusion of the long saga of Steven Truscott. At the age of 14, Steven was sentenced to hang by the neck until he was dead, the result of a very botched case brought about as a result of a very corrupt judicial system. It took 49 long years to see justice done on Steven's part. I am of the opinion that the only thing that actually saved Steven from the gallows was the fact that he was only 14. Look at it this way. John Diefenbaker may have signed the order commuting his sentence from death to life in prison, but I believe that it was done for a reason. I ask you to answer the following question for yourself. Which way would Diefenbaker and his crew have a better chance at re-election, by allowing the hanging of a 14 year old boy from a case that was already full of holes, or signing a piece of paper. Again, it is my opinion, but I do not believe that the government of the day back in 1959 was any more compassionate than it is today. Fortunately for Steven Truscott, he had the stamina to fight a long hard battle. He won that battle and I congratulate him.
Before we leave Ontario, let us not forget that darling couple from St. Catherines, Carla Homolka and Paul Bernardo. The Ontario government looks and smells terrible on this one. You see, Carla was wrongly convicted. She was allowed to cut a deal with the attorney general of Ontario. She would be allowed to enter a guilty plea on a charge of manslaughter in exchange for her testimony against Bernardo. At the time the government said they were doing this because otherwise they might not get a conviction against Bernardo, and they further said that they did not have enough evidence against Holmolka.
In the search of their house in St. Catherines the police did not find two dozen video tapes of the torture, rape and murder of two innocent school girls. These tapes were there and were retrieved by a lawyer who did not present them. Very definitely, Carla Holmolka was a willing participant in this affair. In addition, Carla Holmolka supplied the drugs to administer to her younger sister rendering her unconscious, so that Bernardo could rape her. Apparently this was done as a "gift" to Bernardo. The sister died in the process. As I pointed out above, Carla Holmolka was wrongly convicted as a result of all this. She was wrongly convicted because her unrepentant butt should have occupied the cell next to Bernardo's for the rest of her days. Holmolka should have faced the same first degree murder charges. She did her 12 years and is free now thumbing her nose at society.
As if those revelations are not startling enough, a gentleman was just released from custody in Ontario. He was there serving time for murder. He was declared wrongly convicted when the true killer admitted his guilt to a television news crew. The true killer who confessed his crime and was able to prove it was Paul Bernardo.
Moving eastward, the province of Quebec can boast the highest numbers for unsolved murders of any region of Canada. Again my research comes from official numbers from the government. Indeed, Quebec is also known for a high incidence of wrongful convictions dating back many years.
These events and figures are alarming. They are also scary. Will we ever know the true figures as to how many people have been wrongfully convicted? Of course we will not.
One of the most celebrated cases in the history of Canada took place in Quebec. That of course was the conviction and eventual hanging of Wilbert Coffin at Bordeau Jail in Montreal in 1956. The question that is being studied is whether or not Wilbert Coffin was wrongfully convicted and executed. I believe that he was, and I further believe that based on the evidence that was used to convict him, I can produce evidence and information that was never raised at trial that would have freed Wilbert Coffin.
We have to ask ourselves, how and why did this happen? Was it a case of societal pressure on the justice system? Was it a case of political pressure exerted by the United States of America on the Canadian government in Ottawa? Perhaps it involved both. I can produce documentation that lends credence to that theory.
Earlier on in this report I mentioned problems that Ontario experienced with pathology reports and autopsies. In the Coffin case, a true pathology report was virtually non-existent. It was not complete, it was hastily thrown together, and it lacked key elements.
Very soon the Coffin case will be reviewed by the Criminal Conviction Review Group in Ottawa. I am now in the process of putting my report together that is based on two solid years of research and investigation by myself and Lani Mitchell. I shall be forwarding the report to the review group in Ottawa. There are some things contained in my report, that for obvious reasons, I have not written about. We are truly hopeful that our report will have an effect on the outcome of this case.
This case was a major undertaking not only for me, but for Lani Mitchell as well. We have talked to scores of people across Canada and elsewhere. As soon as the report has been delivered to the proper authorities, I shall be explaining everything to you.
Once in awhile someone will ask me why I have arrived at this or that conclusion. My answer is always the same. If it cannot be backed up by a document or an interview, it does not get published on this site.
In the next few days, I shall be forwarding my report to Ottawa. My plan at that time is to provide you with the complete findings. I have had to exercise caution, as there is apparently one or two people who try to scuttle my report from time to time. I know who these people are.
Folks, as usual you are a great audience. I thank you for your patience for the past month or so. Medical problems have wreaked havoc from time to time. Now is a great time to write a note about the case to your member of parliament. Just click on the link marked letters to members of parliament on the left side of the first page.
As usual, it is good to read your comments. Feel free to leave a note on the comment page. As you know, only submissions bearing the name of the author can be considered for publication. God Bless you one and all.
Lew Stoddard


Ann Daigle said...

Lew so glad to see you back.I was worried about you. I know of your illness and know some of the stuff that you have been going through.One of the coffin family members keeps me posted about you. bless you and Lani for a great job, so dedicated too.

Ann Daigle

Bill Clendenning said...

This case is going to be interesting. I told you that before. Thank you for hanging in there till the conclusion. Beat that health issue that you have. You are strong.

Blii Clendenning

Dave Warren said...

Don't give up the ship. You have done a great job writing all this stuff for the past two years. If it can be won, you will do it.

Dave Warren
Moose Jaw

Cathy Albright said...

Hey man don't take off like this anymore. I enjoy your writings and good to have you back. Sometimes you make me a bit mad but that is ok.

Cathy Albright

Brian McLean said...

I recently reread all your writoings on this story from start to finish. You make a lot of sense. You should also publish a book Sir. I hope you are considering it.

Brian McLean
Thunder Bay, Ontario

B Delorme said...

I had no idea that the incidence of wrongfull convictions was so high in Canada. It is good that you point that out. Suddenly one can see that the Wilbert Coffin case is not just an isolated incident. Of course his stands out because he was executed. makes one wonder how many were executed in this manner before this case.

B Delorme

M Holmes said...

I agree with Mr. Delorme above. I come from Manitoba and I know there were examples of metis people executed in the early days for nothing more than speaking out. So sad.

Thanks a lot for bringing this stuff to the front for people to see. Maybe it will encourage some to research some of the happenings that have been swept under the carpet in this country.

Our hands are not clean, and yet we point out the same weaknesses in human rights to other countries.

M. Holmes

G Theberge said...

Without a doubt Lew you hit the nail squarely on the head when you talk of corrupt legal systems.

We have made it abundantly clear that our track record has been terrible. We need to hang our heads in shane.

I wish sir that you had surfaced 30years ago. You would have made a great federal politician. Not too late yet you know.

G Theberge

G Theberge said...

I forgot something in my comment, must be getting old or something.

Just wanted to say that I am in Vancouver visiting my daughter and you got a beautiful city and province here. Nice fireworks too. Keep up the good work.

G Theberge

Margaret Cassidy said...

An excellent way with words mr. Stoddard. You write it in a way that it is easy to understand. I hope and pray that your efforts will be rewarded knowing that you made a difference in righting a terrible black mark on Canadian history.

Margaret Cassidy

c. briscoe from halifax said...

I do not believe that you know very much about this case. why would you know any more than anyone else when it has always been proven that Wilbere coffine killed three people and they hunged him for it. i know all about this case.

C. briscoe
from halifax

Joyce said...

I am glad to read that you are making your own submission to the review group. You and Mrs. Mitchell have worked long hard hours on this and I am certain that it is important that your findings be heard by the appropriate authorities. I wish much success for you as I am sure the Coffin family does as well.

Bristol, New Brunswick

Cecile Gautier said...

Likewise, as with others I am glad that you are pursuing this case all the way to Ottawa. Throughout the past couple of years you have displayed a large amount of dedication, and in such a way that you were not planning to abandon your cause. I believe that through your efforts and those assisting you, you have made a profound difference, and it is apparent that had your findings been put into practise years ago, Wilbert Coffin would have been a free man, and as well, the real killers would have been brought to justice. Good luck Sir in the home stretch.

Cecile Gautier

Frank Davis said...

That last comment says it all. I may live in Alberta, but I am aware of the Coffin case from Quebec. You have worked long and hard. Because of your work many more Canadians are now aware also.

Frank Davis
Edmonton, Alberta

T. McConnachie said...

It is sad to think that even if the government can see their errors, they will still not acknowledge them without a fight. Don't give up!

T. McConnachie

D. Mackin said...

I am so glad that you are carrying through with this case. There has been and there still is so much junk floating around on this whole thing.

It is obvious that this latest yahoo to come along with another so called book knows nothing about the case. He copied word for word from transcripts that were already a farce. It has needed what you have been doing, researching and investigating beyond all this crap. Good luck to you Sir.

D. Mackin

Brenda L said...

Good luck in the home stretch Lew Stoddard.

Brenda L

Marla McKinnon said...

Put your trust in Him and He will see you through.

God Bless you and Lani for all your hard work on the Coffin case.

Marla McKinnon
Moose Jaw, Sask

Anonymous said...


Best of luck with your efforts. I have followed your journey for the past few years. My grandmother was a sister to Wilbert. Never did she or my father ever talk to me about anything related to Wilbert.

I clearly remember being with my Grandmother keeping me at my parents hoem while my parents were on vacation. The phone rang, it was my Grandfather who was staying at his home. He was calling my Grandmother to alert her that "Front Page Challenge" was doing a piece on the Coffin Affair. As my Grandmother left to answer the phone, I heard a little too much at an early age. When my Grandmother returned to the room her eyes saw mine, and we both knew, even I at a fairly tender age. Never did we speak about it. Proof that the family continued to bare a cross they should not have.

I wish you luck Lew, and thank you for all your hard work. We can only hope that if nothing else, the truth will be told AND recognized.