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NLIS 3
June 21, 2006
(Justice)
 

Government releases Lamer Inquiry report

Government today released the Lamer Inquiry Report into the Administration of Justice. Justice Minister and Attorney General Tom Marshall, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, said the report is comprehensive in meeting the terms of reference set out by government and provides recommendations that once implemented will ensure public confidence in the administration of justice in this province.

"The Lamer Inquiry report is very well-written and detailed and provides profound insight into the circumstances surrounding the cases of Ronald Dalton, Gregory Parsons and Randy Druken," said Minister Marshall. "It provides 45 recommendations on improving the administration of justice and our government is committed to implementing each and every one of them. Public confidence in our legal system is of the utmost importance and implementing these recommendations will significantly improve the way in which we deliver justice services in this province."

"I am pleased to say that some of these 45 recommendations have already been implemented and that others will be implemented immediately. In some cases however, certain recommendations may be subject to budgetary approval and federal government jurisdiction, but government remains committed to each of these recommendations," continued Minister Marshall.

Of the recommendations already implemented, Minister Marshall noted many pertain to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC). Minister Marshall said Commissioner Lamer is very complimentary to the RNC for striving to resolve problems identified in the proceedings without waiting for the final report. "Commissioner Lamer applauds improvements in attitude, technological change, recruitment and training, and makes special mention of the RNC Training program at Memorial University which government implemented in 2004 to recruit and train 75 officers new over a three year period." said Minister Marshall.

"Our government is committed to providing a high level of public protection and we have worked diligently over the past two and a half years to provide the RNC with the human and operational resources together with the technology and training required to ensure the people of this province feel safe and secure in their communities. In Budget 2006 alone government invested an unprecedented $10 million in policing and will continue to make sound investments in policing to ensure the RNC is one of top forces in the country.

Establishing an independent review of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is one of the recommendations Minister Marshall said government will implement immediately. Commissioner Lamer recommends that an independent review be called to ensure that steps have been taken or will be taken to eliminate the "Crown culture" that contributed to the wrongful conviction of Gregory Parsons, and was also evident in the prosecution of Randy Druken.

"This is an important recommendation on which government must act immediately and we are pleased that retired Court of Appeal Justice, William Marshall, will immediately head up the review," said Minister Marshall. "The review will be very thorough, independent and at arms length; it will examine resources, training, morale and the systemic issues identified in the report."

The minister also expressed sincere regret for what Mr. Dalton, Mr. Parsons and Mr. Druken have endured and accepted responsibility for the role government played in their hardship. "Our hope is that publication of the Lamer inquiry report and the knowledge that government will be implementing its recommendations will help bring closure." Minister Marshall also said that although the issue of compensation remains outstanding for Randy Druken and Ronald Dalton, he encourages their counsel to begin dialogue as soon as they had the opportunity to review the report.

"On behalf of Premier Danny Williams and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, I would like to thank Commissioner Lamer and the commission staff for their hard work and dedication to the completion of this report," concluded Minister Marshall.

NOTE TO EDITORS: A copy of the report is available on the government news releaseís site at www.gov.nl.ca/releases or www.gov.nl.ca/just/lamer

Media contact: Billy Hickey, Communications, (709) 729-6985, 691-6390

BACKGROUNDER: Lamer Inquiry

  • On March 21, 2003, the former Minister of Justice and Attorney General announced the appointment of retired Chief Justice of Canada, The Right Honourable Antonio Lamer, to conduct a public inquiry into various aspects of the administration of justice in Newfoundland and Labrador. Specifically, Chief Justice Lamer was tasked to conduct an investigation into the death of Catherine Carroll and the circumstances surrounding the resulting criminal proceedings against Gregory Parsons, and an investigation into the death of Brenda Young and the circumstances surrounding the resulting criminal proceedings against Randy Druken. Chief Justice Lamer was also be asked to inquire as to why Ronald Daltonís appeal of his murder conviction took eight years before it was brought on for a hearing in the Court of Appeal.
     
  • In November 2004 the terms of reference were amended to provide Commissioner Lamer with an extension of one year to adequately conclude the inquiry and provide sufficient time for Commissioner Lamer to submit his final report. The revised date for the final report to be submitted to government was on or before December 31, 2005.
     
  • In May 2005, following consultation with Commissioner Lamer, government made further changes to the terms of reference including announcing they would await the receipt of Commissioner Lamerís report on the administration of justice before proceeding with the compensation phase of the inquiry and announcing a grace period of not more than six months following receipt of the report. At that time, the minister also determined that the circumstances of Mr. Daltonís arrest and prosecution did not warrant a public inquiry.
     
  • In September 2005 government provided an additional compensation package for Greg Parsons. A total of $650,000 to top-up the original compensation provided in February 2002. Following a careful review of statements made during the Lamer Inquiry and concerns expressed by Commissioner Lamer, government had some concerns about Mr. Parsonsí personal situation at the time he agreed to the original compensation package. The total amount awarded to Mr. Parsons ($1.3 million) remains within the scope of packages received by wrongfully convicted persons in Canada.
     
  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General Tom Marshall granted the Lamer Commission of Inquiry a final extension to June 1, 2006 deadline and received the report May 30, 2006.

2006 06 21                                          1:05 p.m.


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