Author Topic: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here  (Read 6203 times)

Sap1

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Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« on: August 30, 2016, 10:53:52 AM »
An innocent Mi'lmaq man in prison for 11 years for a crime he didn't commit and when he was exonerated, the real killer got only one year


https://www.thestar.com/news/obituaries/2009/08/07/donald_marshall_jr_55_fought_racism_made_history.htmlThe Mi'kmaq man, who died yesterday at age 55, spent 11 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Marshall was eventually exonerated and his case forced sweeping changes in the way natives are treated by Nova Scotia's police and courts.

"That's his main legacy by a country mile," Mi'kmaq historian Dan Paul said yesterday. "He put a big dent in systemic racism in this province. Unfortunately, he didn't cure it by any means. It's still quite pronounced in many respects.

"But basically what Junior did is he fought stubbornly, along with his father (Donald Marshall Sr.), to clear his name. He was hell-bent and determined to do so and to find justice for himself."

When Marshall was 17, an all-white jury convicted him of murder in the 1971 stabbing death of Sandy Seale in Sydney, Cape Breton.

"If you were Mi'kmaq, you were guilty and that was that," Paul said.

Marshall was released in 1982 after RCMP reviewed the case and was acquitted in 1983. Roy Ebsary was later convicted of manslaughter in Seale's death and spent a year in jail.

Marshall's case became one of Canada's first high-profile wrongful convictions, prompting an inquiry that exposed a justice system plagued by incompetence and racism.


When he got out of prison, Marshall's first request was to visit Peggy's Cove, a fishing village near Halifax, to see the ocean.

"After that my father set him up in Lake Ainslie with our trailer and he camped out by the lake and just went fishing. That's what he loved most," said his nephew, Glen Gould.

Despite the desire for a quiet life, the soft-spoken Marshall never shied away from conflict. "He was tough as nails, whether it was a physical fight or a political battle," Gould said. "He would not back down from anything no matter how big it was."

In 1990, Marshall was finally exonerated in the report of a royal commission into the wrongful murder conviction. The inquiry concluded Nova Scotia's justice system had failed him.

Marshall received compensation of about $200,000 cash and a monthly lifetime pension.

The seven-volume report pointed the finger at police, judges, Marshall's original defence lawyers, Crown lawyers and bureaucrats.

Bruce Archibald, who served as consultant to the royal commission, said Marshall's courage was evident.

"He was not going to be bullied by the justice system into taking the easy way out. He could have gotten out on parole many years earlier if he had been willing to admit that he did it. And he stood firm on that," said Archibald, now a law professor at Dalhousie University.

Recommendations from the royal commission led to the creation of the first independent public prosecution service in Canada, said Archibald.

A second high-profile legal case involved Marshall's 1996 conviction for catching and selling eels out of season, and without a licence.

In 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a centuries-old treaty between Mi'kmaq natives and the British Crown in acquitting Marshall. The high court ruling also confirmed Mi'kmaq and Maliseet in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have the right to earn a moderate livelihood from hunting, fishing and gathering.

The fisheries victory had an impact on thousands of people across Canada, said Bernd Christmas, Nova Scotia's first Mi'kmaq lawyer, who now works in Toronto. "It made sure ... aboriginal people's rights, that were documented hundreds of years ago, are still valid," Christmas said.

Marshall ran camps for at-risk aboriginal youth until his health and funding deteriorated, said Gould.

Marshall also found himself in court for other reasons over the years, including a recent case involving charges of assaulting and threatening his wife, Colleen D'Orsay.

Family members confirmed Marshall suffered from kidney failure linked to anti-rejection drugs he had been taking following a double lung transplant six years ago.

Nish

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2016, 05:57:25 PM »
This case had a profound effect on my early years. I can firmly recall my Dad watching the proceedings whenever he could, and how viscerally disgusted he appeared to be with the powers that be.

This is one of a few cases that helped to cement my opposition of the death penalty in any way. It is not worth the risk of making a mistake. The death penalty has no place in a civilized society.

Nish

RubyRose

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2016, 07:35:50 PM »
I agree with you completely, Nish.

I followed the Marshall case closely, too, down over the years and I think the thing I could most not ever get my mind around was the fact that he spent eleven years in prison for second degree murder while Ebsary spent one year for manslaughter.  It was the same crime.  I just could never get that part.

He applied for parole but was turned down by the Parole Board because he refused to accept responsibility and show "remorse" for a crime he didn't commit.  Yet a scum bag like Graham James is granted full parole and it's a safe bet that if he gets the chance he'll do the same things all over again.

Have you read the book "Justice Denied" by Michael Harris?  A very well written and interesting account of the Donald Marshall story.

Nish

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2016, 06:47:29 AM »
I have read a lot on wrongful and malicious convictions in this country - like Marshall, Milgaard, Parsons, among others. I met Parsons a number of years ago and, fortunately, the screw job didn't lose him too many years of his life.

Rule of Law, the Charter, Fundamental Justice - these are not fluffy catch phrases that should be bandied about. They are core to our freedoms and "how" we treat our offenders, no matter how terrible their crimes. We can't suspend these for the guys we feel are guilty as hell, those rules are among what make us a civilized society. They also helped to permit the books to be reopened in cases like Marshall.

Mostly I find my views on the matter do not jive with the pulse of this site and so I will leave it at this for now.

Nice to see someone else thinks the same, RubyRose, thanks.

Nish

Sap1

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2016, 10:15:36 AM »
I agree with you all, b/c I struggle with the DP. For some I would definitely vote the DP and feel there should be that option for horrendous crimes, such as the men you mentioned ... Bernardo, Williams, Olsen ... to name a few. Milgaard lost the most time in jail while the sicko who committed the crime was free to do more, living in BC for a time and I have to wonder what other unsolved crimes were some of his.
 

RubyRose

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2016, 11:20:46 AM »
Years ago I read the book..The Coffin Affair... terrible miscarriage of justice in Canada... I do not think any of us can begin to understand the anguish , frustration and despair the wrongfully convicted endure..  I for one would not want to be the person that performed executions nor would I want to be the jurist or jailer of the innocent.... That said.. people such as russel williams, paul bernardo and clifford olsen The victims families pain has to be considered and when 100% without doubt... if I was on a jury  I would seriously have to consider the death penalty.  I am ok with life incarceration , as long as it is for life in these types of crimes. I am also of the mind that just basic needs be met for these monsters...They forfeited a right to pleasure of any kind.

The Coffin case was the worst miscarriage of justice in Canada in my memory, Long Gone.  It was so obvious to anyone who was following the trial (I was about twelve at the time and it was even obvious to me) that he was being railroaded.  He did not receive adequate legal representation and the Jury did not hear all of the evidence (at least none that would have benefited Wilbur Coffin).  Despite attempts by former Prime Minister (I believe he was a civil liberties lawyer at the time) Pierre Trudeau, Rene Levesque (then a journalist) and Jacques Hebert (later to become a senator), it seems Quebec's tourist industry was of more importance to the Duplessis government than a man's life.  They would not even allow him to marry his long time common law wife prior to the execution which I thought was particularly inhuman.

I did hear recently on the CBC that the Federal Government had been approached to open an enquiry into the case but have not heard more since.  It's too late for Mr. Coffin but he and Marian Petrie did have a son so I would hope, for his sake, that the record can finally be set straight.

I am quite certain that no jury in Canada today would convict him based on the flimsy evidence that was presented at his trial.

Nish

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2016, 02:55:40 PM »
I've muttered in the past that I could see someone put to death. I know in my heart I could never follow that through with a serious vote (not that it will ever come to one) I don't think that, even in the cases that are so clear cut, open and shut, that we should be seeking to end someone's life. I understand the pro side of the debate, I just do not agree. And yes, I mean even for Williams, Bernardo, etc.

Nish

D1

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2016, 03:21:47 PM »
A lot more of us would agree with that Nish if a life sentence meant a real life sentence. Lots of convicted Canadian murderers are out in less than 15 years. Clifford Olson had to kill a dozen kids before he got a real life sentence.. One should suffice before throwing away the key. The second/ third chance system plays Russian roulette with the public.

RubyRose

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2016, 06:00:08 PM »
On the other hand, D1, Olson suffered a far more horrible death than he would had he been executed by any means used in so-called "civilized" countries today. 

Nish

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2016, 06:20:07 AM »
A lot more of us would agree with that Nish if a life sentence meant a real life sentence. Lots of convicted Canadian murderers are out in less than 15 years. Clifford Olson had to kill a dozen kids before he got a real life sentence.. One should suffice before throwing away the key. The second/ third chance system plays Russian roulette with the public.

I'm not quite sure what you're putting across here, so let me ask: are you a proponent of capital punishment because current "life" sentences do not go far enough for you? Meaning, the prospects of early release being high or other credits for time served, etc.

Edited to add: I am genuinely curious and want to understand completely.

On the other hand, D1, Olson suffered a far more horrible death than he would had he been executed by any means used in so-called "civilized" countries today. 

I'll continue to put forward that jurisdictions that support state sponsored murder are not civilized.

Nish
« Last Edit: September 18, 2016, 06:43:35 AM by Nish »

D1

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2016, 11:20:45 AM »
I am for what Olson got for anyone who has committed multiple murders, a real life sentence that does not include any chance of parole. Even then the families of his victims had to remain vigilant and attend hearings every 5 years. Where you find people still wanting the death penalty is when the system breaks down and the really bad ones destined to re offend are released. It causes a reactionary thing especially among those personally affected by the tragic outcome of some of those decisions. As in if it were your daughter murdered instead of the neighbors daughter. Society wants to know that they aren't being endangered, not just that they feel justice hasn't been served. The rabid dog effect. Its seems to be almost wreckless endangerment to release some types of killers back into society. That's what gives rise to added calls for the DP. IMO

Nish

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2016, 12:30:18 PM »
Oh I completely get the reactionary side of things, not so much the strictly punitive. Reactionary feelings generally tend to be quelled with time and reflection. Vengeful feelings are a tad more complex and dangerous.

I'm of the mind that we are better off now than we were before with dangerous offender designations - but that doesn't cut it for everyone, I know. I can't really comment on my daughter, or anyone else's, because it hasn't happened. I have, however, spent a lot of time over the last few years studying the Norwegian massacre and their treatment of inmates, as well as some of the family statements to the sentence handed down.

Thanks for the explanation, I got where you're coming from now.

Nish

RubyRose

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2016, 03:18:10 PM »
I think there is very little likelihood of the death penalty ever being reinstated in Canada.  Perhaps I'm living in a dream world but I like to think we have come a little farther than that in the last fifty+ years.

I expect the best solution would be life imprisonment without chance of parole for first degree murder as opposed to the presently existing mandatory twenty-five years.  I can't recall if the fifteen year faint hope clause is still in effect.  Harper's gov't had talked of abolishing that but I don't know if they ever got around to it.  (One of the very few things I ever found myself agreeing  with them on so probably not).  I believe the full life sentence should only be applied to the worst offenders such as Olson (or any other offender convicted of first degree murder of a child), Bernardo and Homulka, Williams, etc  In some cases, I could also understand if it was applied in the first degree murder of policemen.

Nish

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2016, 05:11:31 PM »
I think there is very little likelihood of the death penalty ever being reinstated in Canada.  Perhaps I'm living in a dream world but I like to think we have come a little farther than that in the last fifty+ years.

I expect the best solution would be life imprisonment without chance of parole for first degree murder as opposed to the presently existing mandatory twenty-five years.  I can't recall if the fifteen year faint hope clause is still in effect.  Harper's gov't had talked of abolishing that but I don't know if they ever got around to it.  (One of the very few things I ever found myself agreeing  with them on so probably not).  I believe the full life sentence should only be applied to the worst offenders such as Olson (or any other offender convicted of first degree murder of a child), Bernardo and Homulka, Williams, etc  In some cases, I could also understand if it was applied in the first degree murder of policemen.

Agree completely, RubyRose.

Nish

jellybean

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Re: Donald Marshall Jr. Nova Scotia - posthumous mention here
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2016, 09:13:41 PM »
I agree totally with RubyRose and Nish.  Dangerous Offender has been added, and I agree with that.  But, life should mean life for the worse crimes (examples give by RubyRose.)

jb