Donald Marshall, Jr

Donald Marshall Jr., (b at Sydney, NS 13 Sept 1953; d there 6Aug 2009). The case of Donald Marshall became one of the most controversial in the history of the Canadian criminal justice system. Accused of the 28 May 1971 stabbing death of a black youth, Sandy Seale, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Marshall, a 16-year old Micmac, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. After he had served 11 years in a penitentiary, a re-examination of the case found him innocent of the murder, as he had maintained all along. Roy Ebsary was charged and convicted of manslaughter, and Marshall was acquitted in May 1983. Marshall's long incarceration for a crime he did not commit, and his subsequent struggle with provincial and federal governments for compensation, drew great interest from the general public, prison reform groups and organizations opposed to the reinstatement of capital punishment. The alleged mishandling of his case has brought the police and judicial systems under severe criticism. In September 1987 a royal commission of inquiry began to investigate the Marshall case. In 1989, the commission, headed by Chief Justice T. Alexander Hickman, completed its investigation. It concluded that "the criminal justice system failed Donald Marshall, Jr. at virtually every turn," that the police and judiciary had acted unprofessionally and incompetently, and that racism was a factor in the wrongful conviction. The commission recommended that an independent review mechanism be instituted to handle allegations of wrongful conviction and that no limit be set on the compensation amount. Donald Marshall was awarded a lifetime pension of $1.5 million in compensation.