Canada’s first journalism-law student partnership on wrongful convictions has been launched at the University of British Columbia, with graduate journalism students and law students investigating miscarriages of justice in B.C.
Priority will be given to the more than 20 murder cases on file with the UBC Faculty of Law’s Innocence Project, which was founded in 2007.
Canada has exonerated more than 40 wrongfully convicted individuals in the past 25 years, including last week’s case of Ivan Henry, who was acquitted of a series of rapes after spending 27 years in prison.
Tamara Levy, Director of the UBC Law Innocence Project, a criminal lawyer and adjunct professor at UBC, said that she is looking forward to working with the journalism students because “they bring unique skills that will help us shed some light on our investigations and move them forward more quickly.”
“There are several people who have been exonerated in the United States as a result of the work of investigative journalism students, either alone or in conjunction with law students,” said Levy, “and I’m excited to be involved with the first such collaboration in Canada.”
This semester, three first-year students from the UBC Graduate School of Journalism have been chosen to join 10 law students and 24 supervising counsel on the UBC Law Innocence Project. The partnership also permits future journalism students to research and investigate UBC Law Innocence Project cases under the guidance of UBC Journalism Prof. Peter Klein.
The partnership involves an intense curriculum that includes reviewing thousands of pages of trial documents, tracking down previously unknown witnesses, and consulting with forensic experts.
Mary Lynn Young, Director of the UBC Graduate School of Journalism, said “this is a great opportunity for students to learn investigative journalism skills in collaboration with law students and lawyers as they work on reviewing, investigating and remedying important claims of innocence.”
The UBC Law Innocence Project has identified several possible cases of wrongful conviction and hopes to put its first case forward for ministerial conviction review by the end of the year.
Learn more at www.innocenceproject.law.ubc.ca