Dalhousie Law Journal


Donald Marshall, conviction, injustice, criminal justice system, Nova Scotia, royal commission, Native rights, racism, Attorney General


Prolegomena to the Cure or the Beginning of the Epitaph: "Look, Doctor, try to see things my way. All the diagnoses have been made and the treatment has been prescribed, but somehow ... I just don't feel quite right. Sometimes I think I'll never get well. Is there something you haven't told me? The Doctor's skeptical but still deferential patient echoes the sentiments of many who have keenly observed the unfolding of the Donald Marshall, Jr. saga. A monstrous injustice was perpetrated and then sustained over a period of fifteen years in the conviction and ongoing persecution of an innocent person. Finally, by October 1986, even a government which had been blind to the need for reform in the criminal justice system could no longer resist the pent up provincial and national demand for a full inquiry into the circumstances of Mr. Marshall's conviction. The Nova Scotia Government also asked the Royal Commission to "make recommendations" to help such tragedies from happening in the future".' On January 26, 1990, after extensive public hearings, several separate research projects, and a forum on Native rights, racism, and the role of the Attorney General, the Commission published its seven volume study. "The report came in one fell swoop with a catastrophic effect."'