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Preservation of Evidence

The problem of lost or destroyed evidence has long plagued the justice system. In ongoing cases before the courts, when important evidence is lost or destroyed, an accused can seek a remedy at trial or on appeal and must accept the outcome and move on. However, in the context of post-conviction (or post-final appeal) review work, when evidence is subsequently lost or destroyed, there is no apparent remedy. The phenomenon of missing evidence in this context appears to be a growing problem and may be more of a systemic issue than an aberration. This project seeks to identify BC cases over the past two or three decades in which critical evidence decades in which critical evidence has been lost or destroyed, both during the trial and appeal process, as well as well as after all appellate avenues have been exhausted, yet while an individual still actively maintained his or her innocence. We will attempt to develop a short list of cases where evidence was lost or destroyed (some already known) and analyse the circumstances surrounding those cases, with a view to determining whether consistent systemic issues contributed to the loss or destruction. This review will include, amongst other areas, which police agencies were involved, what policies were in place at the time, how those policies were and are being implemented, and how they may have changed. We will also look to develop a position that articulates the fundamental unfairness that arises when there is specific legislation that contemplates post-conviction/appellate review (s.696), but the infrastructure allowing the process to effectively unfold is considerably lacking. The goal of this project will be to draft a position paper, lobby for reform and/or remedies for past injustices, and possibly present a subset of cases to the Attorney General for review. * has been lost or destroyed, both during the trial and appeal process, as well as well as after all appellate avenues have been exhausted, yet while an individual still actively maintained his or her innocence. We will attempt to develop a short list of cases where evidence was lost or destroyed (some are already known) and analyze the circumstances surrounding those cases, with a view to determining whether consistent systemic issues contributed to the loss or destruction. This review will include, amongst other areas, which police agencies were involved, what policies were in place at the time, how those policies were and are being implemented, and how they may have changed. We will also look to develop a position that articulates the fundamental unfairness that arises when there is specific legislation that contemplates post-conviction/appellate review (s.696), but the infrastructure allowing the process to effectively unfold is considerably lacking. The goal of this project will be to draft a position paper, lobby for reform and/or remedies for past injustices, and possibly present a subset of cases to the Attorney General for review.

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