Wrongfully convicted man wins Supreme Court hearing on compensation
Réjean Hinse was acquitted of murder but federal government has yet to pay $5.8M judgment
After nearly 50 years spent fighting to clear his name, a wrongfully convicted Quebec man is getting another chance — this time from the Supreme Court of Canada — to force the federal government to pay compensation.
Réjean Hinse was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1964 for an armed robbery, but always maintained his innocence, arguing he was 200 kilometres from the scene when the robbery took place.
In 1989, the Quebec Police Commission concluded that Hinse was the victim of a botched investigation.
Five years later, the Quebec Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and ordered a stay of proceedings, but that was not enough for Hinse. He kept up the fight for exoneration.
In 1997, the Supreme Court of Canada formally acquitted him of the crime.
Then-justice Charles Gonthier read the court's ruling from the bench:
"In the circumstances, being of the view that the evidence could not allow a reasonable jury properly instructed to find the appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, we are all of the view that the appropriate remedy is an acquittal," the ruling said.
"Accordingly, the appeal is allowed, the stay of proceedings order is set aside and the acquittal of the appellant is entered."
Hinse then brought a suit seeking compensation from Quebec and the federal government. In 2011, before a judgment was delivered, the province settled for $4.5 million.
The Quebec Superior Court ordered the federal government to pay nearly $5.8 million.
"After living through an unending, traumatizing and painful legal saga, it is difficult to express how satisfied I am at having reached the light at the end of the tunnel," Hinse said at the time.
The federal government, however, had other ideas and appealed the decision. Last September, the Quebec Court of Appeal found that Hinse failed to establish the fault of the federal government and overturned the award.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Hinse's appeal of that decision.