AIDWYC. Does that mean anything to you?
I, Ryan Venables, am very please to announce that thanks to Jonathan Thoburn and Lisa Lutwak, a couple of very keen and persistent (that’s a good thing) 1L law students, that UWO law students are now going to have the opportunity to be reviewing cases in association with AIDWYC.
I think this is a perfect time to bring this story forward considering the recent news of the acquittal of Ivan Henry, who spent 26 years in a B.C. prison for a series of sexual assaults that he did not commit.
Don’t know AIDWYC? Well, keep reading, and soon you will. Here’s how this great partnership has come to be.
As the President for the Criminal Law Student’s Association this year, I was contacted by Jonathan, an incoming 1L, who was eager in starting up AIDWYC under the umbrella of the CLSA. He had already contacted the administration and was given the green light and it was suggested to him that while in its infancy, that AIDWYC @ Western be under the umbrella of the CLSA.
Since I had never heard of AIDWYC I had to do some digging. Here is what I found out. From the AIDWYC Website:
AIDWYC is a non-profit organization that has developed a strong reputation as an advocate for individuals who have been wrongly convicted.
AIDWYC’s primary mandate is to review and support claims of innocence in homicide cases.
However, because individual exonerations do not eliminate the conditions which foster these miscarriages of justice, AIDWYC is also dedicated to addressing the causes of wrongful conviction by:
- Making representations to governments on reforms to the legal system
- Raising public awareness about miscarriages of justice
- Participating in public inquiries related to wrongful convictions
- Intervening in legal cases which seek to rectify miscarriages of justice
There is no system in place at present in Canada for an independent review of claims of wrongful conviction. AIDWYC fills this gap, attracting some of the top legal experts in Ontario to identify these cases and, where warranted, prepare an application for ministerial review to the Criminal Conviction Review Group of the Federal Department of Justice, known as a Criminal Code Section 696.1 application.
AIDWYC’s office is located in Toronto and much of our work is done in Ontario. However, we have dedicated volunteers throughout Canada and in the United States. AIDWYC welcomes applications from across the country. AIDWYC is currently reviewing over sixty claims of innocence and actively pursuing more than 40 cases.
All Canadian citizens stand to benefit from AIDWYC’s efforts to free those who have been wrongly convicted and to reform the justice system wrongfutem of justice, but everyduce or prevent wrongful convictions in the future. Canada has an excellent sysand safeguard its integrity. Wrongful convictions are not easily corrected. The resistance to AIDWYC’s efforts is formidable and the correction of miscarriages of justice is always hard-won.
Successes? Robert Baltovich; James Drisk; Anthony Hanemaayer; Clayton Johnson; David Milgaard; Guy Paul Morin; William Mullins-Johnson; Gregory Parsons; Romeo Phillion; Sherry Sherrett-Robinson; Thomas Sophonow; Steven Truscott; Kyle Unger; Erin Walsh.
Fast forward to today. AIDWYC @ Western is in the final stages of picking volunteers who will be assigned cases, reviewing them, and working hard to have the wrongfully convicted freed. It is hoped that as this project grows it will be able to come out from underneath the support of the CLSA and to form a group at Western Law akin to Pro Bono Student’s Canada.
Not only does this give fledgling lawyers a great way to get involved with a great cause, it will also give them practical experience that law student’s seem to lack coming out of school.
I personally look forward to seeing this great opportunity for students grow here at Western.