Marshall Inquiry is a Royal
Commission of Inquiry initiated in September of 1987 to investigate the wrongful
conviction and imprisonment of Donald Marshall Jr. for the 1971 death of Sandy Seale in
Sydney Nova Scotia.
Marshall, a Micmac (Micmac is a
member of an Algonquian people of the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland in Canada),
spent 11 years in prison before he was found to be innocent. Donald Marshall Jr. spent 11
years in jail for a murder he did not commit. When he was finally acquitted, the appeal
court still called him "the author of his own misfortune."
Today, after a fight lasting
almost two decades, Marshall's name is finally cleared. The same cannot be said for the
police, prosecutors and judges who wrongfully convicted the Mi'kmaq man. A 16,000-page
royal commission report accuses them of racism, incompetence and
miscarriage of justice at every turn.
MARSHALL INQUIRY: TEN
Howard Epstein - January 26, 2000
Halifax - NDP Justice critic Howard Epstein said today the provincial justice system still
has a long way to go to establish the fairness and equality recommended by the Marshall
Inquiry ten years ago.
"Today is the tenth anniversary of the report of the Marshall Inquiry and there is
still much work to do," Epstein said. "This historic anniversary is an
opportunity for the government to take stock of the progress it has made and redouble its
efforts in areas where it has failed to meet the expectations of the report."
Epstein said Justice Minister
Michael Baker would send a signal of his government's commitment to the principles of the
Marshall report by promising now to enforce the hiring guidelines being developed by a
committee examining the minority hiring practices of Halifax law firms.
"Last fall Mr. Baker said his government would not require law firms gaining
government contracts to open their doors to graduates of Dalhousie's Aboriginal Black and
Mi' kmaq law program, a program that grew out of the Marshall report." "I
urge the minister to choose today to commit to ensuring graduates of the IBM program will
have the same opportunities as other young lawyers."
The Halifax Chebucto MLA pointed to other concerns in the justice system that have not yet
been addressed such as the ongoing reluctance of governments to adopt recommendations to
ensure we have a first-class prosecution service.
"For example, we still do not have a director for the Public Prosecution Service,
which has left that organization rudderless and adrift," he said.
Epstein called the Marshall Inquiry and report "an event of national
"It eliminated the province's two-tier justice system and went a long way toward
creating a fair and equal system. This anniversary should act as a reminder that there is
more work to do."