Forensic Evidence Review

Forensic Home | Part 1: Homicide


Forensic Review Committee
Government of Manitoba
Part 2: Sexual Assault, Robbery and Other Cases

Terms of Reference

The Deputy Attorney General of Manitoba has established an advisory committee to examine certain sexual assault, robbery and other cases prosecuted in Manitoba where the Crown relied upon a particular type of forensic evidence. The review is similar to a recently completed review of certain homicide cases.

Composition of the Advisory Committee

The committee shall consist of a General Counsel from the Manitoba Prosecution Service as Chair; a senior Crown attorney; a lawyer in the private sector in Manitoba designated by the Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted; a representative from each of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Winnipeg Police Service; and a forensic expert unconnected with any law enforcement agency, designated by the Deputy Attorney General after consultation with the other members of the committee. Other persons with expertise may be consulted by the committee from time to time, through the Chair.

Objectives of the Advisory Committee

The committee shall consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that a miscarriage of justice has taken place in cases of sexual assault or robbery prosecuted in Manitoba during the past 15 years where:

  • the Crown tendered and relied upon microscopic hair comparison evidence;
  • the accused pleaded not guilty at trial, asserting factual innocence, but was found guilty; and
  • the conviction was appealed to the Court of Appeal, still asserting factual innocence, and the appeal was dismissed.

The committee will actively seek out such cases. It shall also invite defence attorneys to make submissions in relation to individuals convicted of other indictable offences if microscopic hair comparison evidence was relied upon and the case was appealed in the past 15 years, maintaining factual innocence throughout. The committee is also authorized to take any other steps it deems appropriate to identify cases of this nature.

Amongst other issues, the committee shall consider the following factors:

  1. the nature of the microscopic hair evidence tendered in the context of the trial record;

  2. whether, with the benefit of current scientific expertise, the conclusions tendered by the Crown at trial respecting this evidence were incorrect or overstated;
  3. the extent to which the Crown relied upon this evidence to prove the case;
  4. any comments made by the trial judge concerning the probative value or weight to be given to this evidence; and
  5. any other factors respecting this evidence that may assist in assessing whether a miscarriage of justice has occurred.

During the course of its work, the committee, through the Chair, may arrange for DNA or other scientific testing of the evidence to assist the committee during the review.

The committee shall provide a report on its findings and recommendations to the Deputy Attorney General by or before September 15, 2005.

Public communication concerning the work of the committee during the review, should that prove necessary, will be made through the Chair. Upon receipt of the report of the committee, the Deputy Attorney General will publicly announce the results of the committee's work.

Dated at Winnipeg, Manitoba this 15th day of September, 2004.

110 Legislative Building,
Winnipeg MB R3C 0V8