The Wrong Man: Discussion
It's the skeleton in the closet of Canada's legal system: that despite the presumption of innocence, the right to a vigorous defence and a fair trial, there are still cases in which innocent people are convicted, most disturbingly, of murder. Some of the names are well-known: Milgaard, Marshall, Truscott, Sophonow. In The Wrong Man, Bob McKeown introduces you to someone else who's seen wrongful murder conviction from the inside. The prosecutor who's presided over more of them than anyone else.
Originally broadcast on March 5, 2010 | Comments 38
Cops & Prosecutors think of themselves as "the good guys" regardless of their own bad actions.
One of the aspects of our legal system is that it depends upon an adversarial approach to determining guilt.
If you have a preosecutor with a large ego, then this can reduce to the playing of a game. It ceases to be about justice but becomes an issue of winning a conviction. To win a conviction can require the distortion of evidence, withholding of evidence from the jury and defence, and who knows what other underhand approaches to fabricating evidence. The fatc that the outcome can destroy someone's life seems to be much lesser than the kudos of winning a prosecution.
We have to tie this to the natural instinct in humans for vengeance, It maybe better to find a culprit, any culprit, than to find the real culprit. These are very human failings.
And so we have wrongful convictions - and likely there are many, many. many more for low profile cases that no-one bothers to re-investigate with more modern scientific approaches.
I suppsoe this is a very valid argument against capital punishment because this would lead to the execution of innocents.
It would be nice to think that behaviour such as Dangerfield's could result in him and the justice system in some way being held to account. But the legal system is a closed shop. Lawyers defend brothers just as policemen do the same and it seems rare that such miscarriages and what is really corruption of the legal principles, ever result in anyone paying for their misdeeds if you are in the legal brotherhood.
It is why I view all leagl processes as imherently flawed by the very failings of human nature and should always be regarded with some feeling of suspicion.
Ah, to Mr. Steeves......
Sir your point is mute. Had they,(the fifth estate) dug deeper you would see a more disturbing trend than just George Dangerfield. Having personally seen some of the undisclosed information in one of these cases it is brutal to what transpired. One can only hope that all will be exposed in time.
— Posted on March 12, 2010 11:27 AM
I don't understand why Dan Lett was apart of the program. Janie Duncan investigated the case and unfortunately, he took all the credit. Lett's findings in the newspaper were not admitted in court.
John W. Winnipeg
— Posted on March 12, 2010 05:40 AM
It amazes me in reading the previous postings to find that all are so agreeable with TFE's character assassination of George Dangerfield. It amazes me even more as to what is acclaimed to be cutting edge investigative journalism. Bob McKeown did not point out anything that hadn't been rehashed ad nauseum in the past. It's not much of a revelation that Dangerfield, being the senior prosecutor, prosecuted Manitoba's most prominent cases of the time, including TFE's 4 subject cases. McKeown doesn't explore the fact that there is a far greater likelihood for those cases to undergo scrutiny than one producing lesser prison time-and not likely prosecuted by Dangerfield. Of course it would be contrary to McKeown's motive to explore the momentum created by one of these lifers being declared wrongly convicted, and the great appetite for overturning these convictions as a result. And as the laws have changed since those convictions, it has opened the door for many of the convicted to be heard. The fact that those voices now have our attention has given rise to the unravelling of the cases. These cases would have been, quite expectedly, within the domain of the senior prosecutor Mr. Dangerfield to prosecute. It's incredible to think that McvKeown doesn't examine any of the details of these cases. Instead his whole thesis is centered around the notion that 4 people have cried foul and there's your pattern. It must be true. It is proof positive of a grand conspiracy by Mr. Dangerfield to recklessly send innocents to prison. McKeown simply glossed over the matter leaving out many of the facts which if more widely known, would give balance and make people aware that there were very strong reasons for all the authorities involved to pursue these matters as they had. Because McKeown and the CBC opt for a uncomplicated story that they know will sell well with the sentiments of their well-propagandized admirers, they deliberately leave out facts that interfere with their demonization of Mr. Dangerfield and all things authority. For good measure McKeown employed the dubious musings of some tired old narcissistic criminal lawyers to bring consensus to his sickening attack. I don't recall McKeown pointing out at any time that most off these so-called wrongfully convicted have not been formally exonerated. Oh yes, they've been paid, but I have to ask why it is that the same government that paid out, didn't jump at the chance of exoneration.
The only useful point that McKeown made was that the law has changed (courtesy of Stinchcombe) since these matters were in court, as have advancements in forensic science. It is primarily for those reasons the justice system had no choice but to make the determination in these cases that these people did not have a fair trial.
Of course the idea of being wrongly convicted rightfully resonates with anyone with conscience. One need only read the previous postings above.
With that in mind, it would also seem reasonable that people would avoid wrongfully convicting Mr. Dangerfield basing their assertions on the injurious and threadbare superficial twaddle put out by the CBC.
R. Steeves Winnipeg
— Posted on March 10, 2010 11:30 PM
Keep digging you guys, there is so much more for here you have no idea...I have been failed by every level of government and every aspect of our judicial system here in manitoba....keep digging....things won't change unless the silence is broken....
Jason Hyra winnipeg
— Posted on March 10, 2010 04:55 PM
Makes you wonder how many others are in jail for things they didnt do.
This man could not have achieved this alone. He needed extremely slimey cops and a corrupt system to get away with this garbage for a whole career.
Now he louges in Vancouver, enjoying his fat pention.
I love the fith estate. It's a gem.
— Posted on March 10, 2010 08:57 AM
I think you people at the fifth estate are doing a great job and your show is awsome.These wrongs that were done to these people from the mb. courts (goverment)are you could say the more extreme bad things they have done to people.I have experianced myself injust actions of our goverment most of us probabily have at differant levels.It is very frustrating because really there aint much you can do about it.For me to walk around mad and complaining about the dummies in our system just harms me and does know good for anyone so i beleave the wisest thing i can do is have faith and leave vengance to god.Thats his job.Karma is real and like ms.tate says louis real also said when being sentanced to death i will pray for your souls.If it is true when you die that you will feel all the pains you caused to people in your life i feel really sorry for george bush and brian mulrooney..lol THE MEN WHO HOLD HIGH PLACES MUST BE THE ONES WHO START TO MOLD A NEW REALITY CLOSER TO THE HEART YA CLOSER TO THE HEART GREAT LINE BY SIR GETTY LEE mb.mike @hotmail.com
mike payeur winnipeg
— Posted on March 9, 2010 11:34 PM
I am not foolish enough to think our Canadian Legal System is pearly white, but I have to admit to being in a state of near shock at what I watched on your "Wrong Man" show just now. This Mr. Dangerfield should be in the jail he sent so many innocent people to. WHY ISN'T HE? And who is that, for lack of a better word at the moment, clot you interviewed who stuttered and stammered excuses for him? (That is my opinion of him anyway) Why does he still have that job? He is clearly pro "winning at all cost even if lying, cheating and paying off witnesses is required to do it".
My heartfelt wishes for a much better life from here on out to those wrongly convicted. And what exactly is being done to catch the real perps? Do the original victims not deserve some honest justice also? Adding up the numbers of people abused by the system at the hands of this one self centered, self serving man, and apparently his replacements in Manitoba, is mind boggling.
In my 64 years on this earth, I have never been ashamed of being Canadian but tonight, on this issue at any rate, I certainly am ashamed.
Please, Fifth Estate, do not let this get forgotten. We cannot afford to forget or one day what has happened to these people could happen to us as well. Let us, help us, get this man put behind bars. And he does not deserve any sympathy because he is now an old man - he was young enough when he was playing around with other people's lives.
I am most sincere
Im so greatful for The Fifth Estate doing stories such as these one's , to expose the Corruption within our Government . I am the mother of an inmate whom died while sreving his sentence , my son was 22 at the time of his death it has destroyed my life !!! To live a life with no answers is just inhumane , animal's are treated much better than the family's of inmates ? I won't tell you that my son didn't deserve to pay society's dues , tho he never committed a crime he deserved to die for ! I know first hand just what all these family's have been threw and God Bless each and every one of them , as it could of easily have been them in my shoes ! It's about time something should be done !!! And STOP THE COVER- UPS
— Posted on March 9, 2010 02:33 PM
This crown prosecutor should GO TO JAIL,
even if its a fraction of the half century of falsly and sometimes dowright framed innocent people he railroaded.
Why is he not charged with anything at all?
— Posted on March 8, 2010 07:47 PM
Without a doubt this person is dangerous and he had NO business serving as a "prosecuter..." If anyone should be in prison it is this man. The grief he has caused so many people is God awful and it's about that simple......
I remember having the most wonderful brother in the world.I remember going to all the trials, and watching him being put through so much tramatic grief. I remember Tom when his Spirit died..A young man who was delivering Christmas stockings to sick kids in the hospital on Christmas Eve night then the nightmare begins....I SAW the smug look on Dangerfields face at the preliminary, and all three trials. No matter how much money these innocent people get, for what they have been through it will never be enough, for what the Justice system has put them through especially hearing the words that still ring in my ears at night the word "GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY"
I do wonder if Dangerfield sleeps well at night and has his family close. My brother does not.
All I want to say to Dangerfield is:For what you have bestowed on the Sophonow family. May God have Mercy on your Soul
A truly great expose of our justice system! Hopefully someone will act against the Vancouver perpetrator because we all know the law won't. No amount of dollars can possibly compensate these injustices or the numerous connected lives they've ruined. Let the public be warned.
This is a very disturbing world when you understand the real truths. Thanks for a great and valuable series - the Fifth Estate.
I personally think George Dangerfield should go to prison himself, for the crimes he has comitted in these cases. I feel for each and every one of these men that was subjected to the prison life for crimes they never committed, little own the year's they spent behind the wall's of the prison!!! Than to distroy there family's by this ! YES he DESERVE'S PRISON , JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED !
— Posted on March 7, 2010 07:23 PM
I can't believe that the government is letting him get away with this. The prosecutor should be put behind bars for the rest of his life for what he did. Incompetence/poor judgment doesn't even come close to covering it. This guy is pure evil and obviously only cared about his conviction rates. The fact that so many turned a blind eye to his wrongdoings is even more bizarre. It's scary how corrupt things are in the upper levels of government. Why isn't the prosecutor required to pay out the victims? (Not that money can ever make up for what happened to them). It makes me sick that us taxpayers are paying millions for this creep's actions. I bet he's retired in luxury while the rest of us are struggling to make ends meet. Just disgusting. I'm sad for Canada and our ridiculous legal system.
I watched this program and was disgusted by the crown who was the subject. I don't think any crown cares about bringing justice to anyone...but i do think they fully understand the im[plications when doing this to people...if they didn't..the supreme court of canada wouldn't have made a ruling to prottect them.....making it impossible for them to be held accoutnable for these situations that are drectly their cause.
This programmed showed...again....that there were criminal acts to get each and ever wrongly convictexc person into prison....much like priosns being a national disgrace...describe by the Correctional Investigator.....so is this situaion regarding wrongful conviction. Just because a crown doesn't lay charges against these people doesn't mean there is now crime. Passing of that law is cowardly and put every member of society at risk of a wrongful conviction....
I said it before...we don't have "Justice System"....we have a "Conviction System"...people should learnt the difference......considerthis....it is a criminal act to pejur yuurself, obstuction justice.,, and mislead the clourt....in doing this to each of...we were all murdered......meaning these people were wreckless in their whether death occured or not...and that my friends is murder....I was in prison for soemthing tha tdidn't even happen.....and i could have benn killed any given day....all because crowns attorney's endorsed and didn't wuestion prjured and manufactured evidence......
This is the true National Disgrace to Canada......congratulations Canadian gov't and court..you made it!!!!!!!!!!!
I love the fifth estate! This episode was great as well, keep them coming!
— Posted on March 6, 2010 09:28 PM
You guys at the fifth estate do an unbelievable job, in spite of all the odds of the "mafia" and it's system stacked against you and us, I don't know how or where you get all the energy from. But Saints or Angels you are to all of us ! !
— Posted on March 6, 2010 09:23 PM
George Dangerfield is dangerous. Put him in prison please.
Malfeasance is a crime and clearly Dangerfield had to lie to get those convictions. That is as big a crime as any murder or robbery. Send the bastard to jail- after a fair trial of course. He might get that fair trial in a third world country, maybe with Sharia Law. If we do not demand accountability or justice for public officials then you or I could be there next innocent victim.
— Posted on March 6, 2010 08:05 PM
It was a fantastic story and done well. I wish it went deeper than just George Dangerfield. There are real probelms in the Province of Manitoba, and real problems with the Police Service here. Corruption is rampant and the Justice Department here has no amintion to change anything. Although they claim that they are doing something they are in fact not. I myself am at the end of a wrongful conviction but it receives less attention becasue no one has died. I have been fighting it for 8 years. I have been threatened many times now personnaly, my job, and my family. That i should go away or else. When they know i was innocent but they must protect the enitity of the Winnipeg Police Service at any cost. Why you ask? Because I was framed for a crime by a WPG Police Officer and an x-girlfriend and the WPS is very aware of the crimes they committed in order to frame me for my crime, when i was an actual witness for the WPS and they then hung me out to dry.
I wish you would dig deeper into the reality and problems that exist in Manitoba.....
Jason Hyra winnipeg
— Posted on March 6, 2010 01:00 PM
I have a friend whom recently was charged with police assault while protesting at the law society in Toronto. Two officers and a security guard all had different stories as to what happened under oath but yet he was still convicted. “A reasonable doubt” exists and yet the Judge still convicts .......To me something seams wrong here. If it would have been anyone else they would have gotten off.
— Posted on March 6, 2010 12:47 PM
Thank you to The Fifth Esate! The truth will set us free ! I have waited all my life to have my dad at home! Thank you to everyone who has helped us : ) He is the best dad anyone could ask for and to others so kind and giving! I hope that people care about these cases it needs to stop and it only stops if others care, it could be you one day who knows! You have more power then you think. If you want to help show you care come sit with me in the court in due time! Show our city cares!
— Posted on March 6, 2010 12:13 PM
As the sister of Perry Harder, I was led to believe the judical system had done their job; trial, evidence, conviction. Perry was laid to rest and our lives went on. Fast forward to Mr.Driskell and his dream teams quest for justice for wrongul conviction. I (speaking only for myself, not my family), was in denial of Driskell's innocence for many years, and only wanted to blame someone for Perry's death.After all, who else was there to blame? It was not until late, I had begun to re-read the trial transcripts, inquiry transcripts, Dan Lett's articles and the Homicide review I had missed key points the first time, and now conclude our judical system has failed Mr.Driskell, and, my family in this case. Along with the cases of other wrongful convictions, those families who felt the system did their jobs, are now reliving their nightmares all over again. If those wrongfully convicted did not do it, then who did it? In Perry's case, I have stayed in contact every month for seven years with the Homicide Dept and now the Cold Case unit. Unfortunately, Perrys case has not been touched for years, and, the officers advised it will not be touched in the future unless there is a tip worthy of re-opening. Therefore, Perry's case may be the one of many that may never get solved. So Mr.Dangerfield, kudo's to you winning the top award of the stereotypical heartless lying lawyer in Manitoba of all time, hey you forgot your award when you left Manitoba so fast.
As the law in Canada now stands, those in authority can do whatever they like to get convictions, knowing that they can do so with impunity because they belong to the same organization as those who would be responible for prosecuting them if their criminal actions were revealed, an organization which is determined to maintain the status quo because this is one guarantee that they will always be the most powerful body in this Country.
Until such time of these "Officer's of the Court" are subjected to the same punishment as their victims were subjected to, there will never be any change.
WELL DONE CBC!! Finally someone has had the balls to bring thisstory to the national spotlight! Being a native Winnipegger & a bit of a newshound, I've followed almost all of these cases from the beginning & it's been baffling as we've watched each of these men paraded out after the fact - exonerated - after having lost so much of their lives - all with one common denominator - George Dangerfield. How is he still walking around a free man??? And Mr. Slough (sp?) needs to get a grip - he's still totally in denial about what went on. Perhaps he needs to go next!! When he was saying "Oh no, it wasn't lying, it was serious misleading" . . . my question to myself was, "What's the difference in cases of this magnitude?" A milli-second later, Bob asked the very same question!! Good job Bob! I like your tenancity!!! Please keep us updated on any actual action against Dangerfield. And why have they not all been compensated???? I think the next story that needs doing on the police department's role in all these cases!!! Thank you!!
Peggy W Winnipeg
— Posted on March 6, 2010 10:32 AM
The victim of the injustice is right when he says that lawyers and police who engage in perjury should be convicted and be punished by jail time. Equal justice for all, is the basis of law.
Something that has not yet been determined is how taxpayer dollars appear to have been diverted in exchange for testimony. Who was privy to that information? Who was making those decisions? Shouldn't that have been part of the information disclosed on the reviews?
L Jones Winnipeg
— Posted on March 6, 2010 10:27 AM
One thing that your documentary did not address is the fact that the people who committed the murders, that these four men were wrongly convicted of, are, I assume, still out there and perhaps have or will commit more murders and other crimes. This is the most scary aspect of what happened because of these false convictions... I remember when the young woman referred to was murdered in the doughnut shop in Winnipeg. I was working in inner-city Winnipeg and her death was mourned by many of us but we were also afraid that we could meet the same fate that she did. When we thought the murderer was caught, we let down our guard. To think that the murderer was still out there, is still out there is chilling, indeed. International Women's Day comes up this week. It is a good time to remember that our justice system can be a very flawed one and that often it only seems to bring those who commit crimes against us to justice. This is a far cry from justise being done.
As a lay person, I believe that these cases of wrongful conviction show that there is enough evidence to charge this Crown prosecutor with obstruction of justice.
If the Harper government wants to get 'tough on crime', I strongly favour that police officers, Crown attorneys and others that we taxpayers PAY to fight crime do not use their powers to commit injustices.
I am an elderly law-abiding citizen who has been the victim of crime. It happens. Our society is not perfect. When friends and acquaintances were falsely accused of offences, I felt very victimized with them.
When a law-abiding elderly person like I am cannot confidently advise younger people to trust the police and our justice system, we are in big trouble.
The first step in getting 'tough on crime' is to get tough on public servants who abuse their positions of trust.
Rudi Peters Winnipeg
— Posted on March 6, 2010 12:19 AM
I know in a way what these men are feeling. I was wrongly accused of assult and serve 6 months in a prison cell for someone elses actions. It has on my police reports that it wasn't me who did the actions and the victume even testified that i wasn't the one who did it. Even after all that i was still sentenced because they had to have someone pay for what had happened. In those six months i lost time with my wife and my children, who got damaged the most emosionally. I would love to meet with the judge who sentenced me and ask him why?? The guards at the facility i was staying even asked what i was doing there because the knew i shouldn't be there. How can this happen from a large to a small scale?? I need answers as well as these families that suffered from seperation.
I am a wrongfully convicted person; I was nieve enough to believe that I could defend myself as I believed it when told that the crown is supposed to pursue justice not just convictions. Fortunately my punishment was merely a 300.00 fine and a year of probation.
I have since become a successful businessman and have contributed to Mr. Lockyer's organization - I encourage everyone to do the same. I have also noted with great concern the increasing impunity that law enforcement and prosecutors have enjoyed in the wake of 9/11. The hero worship the public showers these people with will make the task of rooting out the George Dangerfields monumental.
— Posted on March 5, 2010 11:17 PM
This is the kind of journalism Canadians desire because we have a voice through the Fifth Estate unlike other main media sources, it's a no wonder why the Crown Prosecutor ran from your interview because he and others like him know that the Fifth Estate are the voice for those less fortunate to tell their horrific stories. Thanks and keep up the great work :).
Is there any lawyer out there who has a conscience to assist these individuals to obtain accountability of an injustice these people and their families had to face and deal with for many years?
Dangerfield by mid 2005 had reinvented himself as a thespian, under the stage name of 'Jeremy' NOT George Dangerfield. Research his contribution to Canadian cinematography with his many cameos in Guy Maddin's latest film "My Winnipeg". Maybe Wm. Shakespeare got it right when he said, "first we kill all the lawyers."
film fan Manitoba
— Posted on March 5, 2010 08:12 PM
How can I be surprised? I've known judges who have NEVER ruled in the wives' favours in divorce cases. I've known cops who boasted of "arranging" evidence, cops who were drunks and druggies. I've known town councillors who trades drugs for favourable stores in the press.
So how can I be surprised? Incompetents, people with agendas, pedophile judges and lawyers and cops: they have all risen like scum to the tops of their professions until, occasionally, they are found out; or until, and usually, they retire with the grateful thanks of the nation.
As we have noted in so many failed states today, one of the most crucial requirements of a civilization or a nation is the availability to its citizens of a functioning judicial system. While none is perfect, the deliberate distortion of the truth to actually make it more imperfect is an affront to every citizen of that nation where it occured, at the very least.
Crimes have been committed unintentionally in many circumstances; these have been labelled everything from second degree murder to driving drunk and causing an injury or death. These crimes generally incur jail time.
The action of deliberately corrupting the judicial system is, by itself, a significant act against one's own society. To do it to a person who, as a result, goes to prison for a very long time is significantly more serious, and to do it DELIBERATELY to SEVERAL persons KNOWING it WILL result OVER AND OVER AGAIN in PROLONGED time in prison, steps into the realm of the commission of an act against the people with a callous and complete indifference to the basic rights of all of them, and specifically against the rights of those individuals subjected to the outcome. It is worse than perjury. It is, I think, worse than the commission of any single one of the crimes for which these individuals were jailed, and anyone who corrupts the justice system in this way should spend a significnat time behind bars himself.
R Vincent Winnipeg
— Posted on March 4, 2010 06:21 PM
These wrongful convictions Although Very serious This Practice Goes right from homicide to shoplifting There is no appearance of Justice Required in Canada --like politics It's only a dream.
Prosecution is conviently selected to convict using any means as it takes .They look good Cops look Good in a society that sets law inforcement on a podium just as high as the infallible Pope ???
Small cases don't attract Media Coverage But Is Flourishing from sea to sea . Proof And Honesty Do Not = Justice I personally have seen -experienced da Wrath of justice
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