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Wrongful Conviction Day - October 4

The goal of the Canadian criminal justice system is to ensure the guilty are convicted and the innocent are acquitted. But sometimes errors are made and those that are factually innocent spend years behind bars serving time for a crime they did not commit.

A group of Ontario Tech Forensic Psychology graduate students have partnered with Innocence Canada to raise awareness about these miscarriages of justice at the sixth-annual Wrongful Conviction Day event on Friday, October 4.

You'll hear from:

  • Exoneree Robert Baltovich, who in 1992 was wrongfully convicted for the murder of his girlfriend. Baltovich spent eight years in prison before he was acquitted, and another decade after that trying to clear his name. 
  • Jeff Kaplan, Ontario Tech Forensic Psychology PhD student and Director of the Interrogation Evaluation Clinic at Coral Coast Group, who will speak about the role of false confessions in wrongful conviction cases.

You'll also have a chance to win trivia prizes!

Wrongful Conviction Day is an international campaign to encourage organizations and the public to set aside one day to focus on and discuss the causes and remedies concerning wrongful conviction: an issue that affects and devastates individuals and societies worldwide.

In the years since its inception, Innocence Canada’s team of volunteers have reviewed hundreds of cases, leading to the successful exoneration of more than 23 innocent individuals who together spent more than 200 years in prison for crimes they did not commit. Innocence Canada’s team of pro-bono lawyers are currently reviewing approximately 80 claims of innocence in Canada alone.

Wrongful Conviction Day activities:
Guest speaker Q and A
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
61 Charles Street, Room 217

Screening of Death by Fire (PBS Frontline documentary)
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Science Building, Room 2140

Guest speaker bios

Robert Baltovich

Robert Baltovich was wrongly convicted of the second-degree murder of his girlfriend Elizabeth Bain on March 31, 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 17 years. While awaiting his appeal, a serial rapist and murderer named Paul Bernardo was arrested and it became known that he had lived a short distance away from the University of Toronto Scarborough campus in 1990 and that he had committed many violent sexual assaults in the area.

Eight years to the day after his conviction, Baltovich was released on bail pending appeal. Four years later, on December 2, 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal quashed his conviction and ordered a new trial. Four years later, in April 2008, Baltovich was acquitted when prosecutors chose to call no evidence and asked the jury to acquit him.

In 2010, lawyers for Baltovich filed a $13-million civil suit alleging malicious prosecution, negligent investigation and negligent representation by his original trial lawyers; the civil suit is still before the courts. Since his release in 2000, Baltovich has completed a diploma at Seneca College and a master’s degree at the University of Toronto. He has worked as a librarian at the Royal Ontario Museum, Centennial College and for the Government of Ontario. For the past six years, he has been teaching English as a Second Language in Toronto.

Jeff Kaplan

Jeff Kaplan is Forensic Psychology PhD student at Ontario Tech, and Director of the Interrogation Evaluation Clinic at Coral Coast Group. He holds degrees in psychology, forensic psychology and criminal justice. His research focuses on assessing interrogations for coerciveness and risk factors for false confessions. Jeff provides assessment services in cases of disputed confessions to attorneys and advocacy groups; his past clients include the Innocence Project and Center on Wrongful Convictions. He has also designed and taught courses and workshops on false confession for Coral Coast Group, the American Psychology-Law Society (forthcoming), and Palo Alto University.