Driskell lawyer calls for review of Crown prosecutor's cases
The lawyer representing James Driskell at his wrongful conviction inquirywants a review of all cases prosecuted by retired Crown prosecutor George Dangerfield.
The Winnipeg inquiry, which began July 17, is looking into Driskell's wrongful conviction for the murder of Perry Dean Harder in 1990.
Dangerfield, who prosecuted Driskell at his murder trial in 1991,has beentestifying at the inquiry since Monday.
James Lockyer, Driskell's lawyer at the inquiry, began cross-examination of Dangerfield Tuesday morning. But as soon as Lockyer raised the name of Thomas Sophonow, Dangerfield's lawyer objected.
Dangerfield also prosecuted Sophonow in the early 1980s. It was later found Sophonow had been wrongly convicted and was acquitted. Sophonow has been sitting through the last few weeks of Driskell's wrongful conviction inquiry, in support of James Driskell.
In responding to the objection, Lockyer told the inquiry that at the end of the proceedings, he intends to ask the commission to recommend a full examination of Dangerfield's past cases "insofar as there may be concerns in the manner he prosecuted them."
Along with Driskell and Sophonow, Dangerfield also prosecuted Kyle Unger, who spent nearly 14 years in prison for the 1990 sexual assault and murder of high school student Brigitte Grenier before a judge ordered his release on bail in 2005. Unger is currently on bail and awaiting a federal review of his murder conviction.
Earlier Tuesday morning, the lawyer forDangerfield accused Michael Code, the commission's counsel, of interrogating Dangerfield in a manner reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings.
Code responded by saying that he felt it necessary to challenge Dangerfield because some of his answers weren't making sense.
On Monday, under questioning from Code, Dangerfield admitted to knowing that his key witness lied several times while testifying against Driskell.
Driskell was sentenced to life in prison for his first-degree murder conviction for the 1990 killing of Harder. The conviction was quashed by then justice minister Irwin Cotler in 2005 after Driskell had spent 12 years in prison.
Cotler cited several reasons for his decision, including new DNA evidence that showed hairs found in Driskell's van did not belong to the victim — the Crown had argued at trial that they did. He also cited problems with key witnesses and a lack of disclosure of information that could have helped Driskell's defence.
The Manitoba government then stayed the charges against Driskell, which keeps him out of prison but does not officially exonerate him.
The inquiry is probing the role of police, the actions of the Crown and questions of disclosure in the case. The inquiry's commissioner has also been asked to determine when someone has met the threshold to be declared factually innocent or wrongly convicted.