Abuse of Office Led to Wrongful Conviction of Ivan Henry

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Abuse of Office Led to Wrongful Conviction of Ivan Henry

Abuse of Office Led to Wrongful Conviction of Ivan Henry

Ivan Henry spent 27 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Hinkson concluded that Crown’s wrongful non-disclosure of relevant information seriously infringed Mr. Henry’s right to a fair trial and demonstrated a “shocking disregard” for his Charter rights, and awarded him $8 million in damages[1].

Lawyers and judges are court officers. We also have police (including police dogs) sworn in as police officers. An officer is an artificial person[2] in law that one chooses to represent[3] to gain the special powers and privileges of that office, as the office and the officer that represents it are “conceptually divisible but legally indivisible.”[4]

For police officers, lawyers, and prosecutors, one special privilege is being virtually immune from prosecution for their acts in such offices[5]. Unfortunately this sometimes results in a wrong conviction[6] like the Ivan Henry case.

Often it is because the system demands quick results for political reasons (even in the movie Zooptopia!) This happened to the Central Park Five – they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once police and/or prosecutors pick someone to be “guilty”, they then can selectively find evidence to support that false belief, and also reject any evidence that does not support their “belief” (watch a 2½ minute preview at: http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi2114495513?ref_=tt_ov_vi).


It is easy to do because there are few consequences. For police officers and prosecutors their credibility is held higher than the average citizen. Unfortunately, if they are dishonest, then the system also lets them cover it up easier than for the average citizen, plus they are virtually immune from prosecution unless done in bad faith. It also does not help that they are self-regulated: investigations are by other police or by the lawyers’ bar. The other problem with self-regulation, of course, is cognitive dissonance – the officer or lawyer cannot be wrong, because to admit that is to admit that the system is broken and runs counter to the famous dictum that “It is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.”[7]

It seems that everyone but the lawyers and officers can see that the system is broken. As all smartphones have video recorders, a search of the term “police brutality” on YouTube results in 513,000 videos; this would not have been possible ten years ago.

Like these 513,000, Ivan Henry’s case is due to abuses of offices. This will continue unless officers can somehow be held liable for their actions. Forcing these individuals to deal with you not as officers, but in their private capacity, strips them of immunity protection as such officers.

  1. http://www.canada.com/news/judge+awards+ivan+henry+million+wrongful+imprisonment/11972867/story.html
  2. Principles of Contract, 6th Ed., Sir Frederick Pollock, p. 107: “Officer: The Roman invention, adopted and largely developed in modern law, of constituting the official character of the holders for the time being of the same office, … into an artificial person… of legal capacities and duties.”
  3. As we are not an artificial person, an officer must be another person in law we can choose to represent.
  4. The Queen’s Other Realms, Peter Boyce (2009), Canberra: Federation Press, page 5.
  5. For an US article see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/01/prosecutorial-misconduct-new-orleans-louisiana_n_3529891.html
  6. For Canadian examples see: Manufacturing Guilt: Wrongful Convictions in Canada, Barrie and Dawn Anderson, Fernwood Publishing, 1998
  7. A Book for Judges, Hon. J.O. Wilson, Canadian Judicial Council, p. 3, quoting Rex v. Sussex Justice, [1924] 1 K.B. 256 at p. 259.

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