The Honourable Mr. Justice James Donnelly

Justice James Donnelly: Ontario court (general division): A worse than average bencher, he became worthy of mention in this story as a result of a performance at a high-profile judicial event -- the second trial in the Guy Paul Morin travesty.

The Kaufman inquiry into the wrongful prosecution of Morin was not mandated to blame any individuals and, indeed, its 2,000-plus-page report pulls its punches even against the subjects of its most serious criticism.


Two notebooks

Nevertheless, the report makes it clear that Donnelly performed scandalously. For starters, there was his behaviour toward Durham police sergeant Michael Michalowsky, who was ultimately charged with perjury after it became known that he had two notebooks with differing entries about various events. (The charges were dropped after he suffered severe health setbacks prior to Morin's second trial.)

The Kaufman report takes Donnelly to task for the appearance of bias resulting from his coming down from the bench, warmly greeting Michalowsky and shaking his hand when the police sergeant appeared to testify at Morin's second trial.

But the major criticisms relate to Donnelly's charge to the jury, when he used the term "consciousness of guilt" a total of 39 times vis-a-vis evidence that he said indicated Morin's responsibility for the murder of Christine Jessop.

Throughout the trial, Donnelly declined to exclude evidence ultimately found to be useless, such as Morin's failure to take part in the search for Jessop after she went missing, or his refusal to discuss the murder with acquaintances.

The Kaufman report says that such evidence should have "formed no part of the trial" and "contributed little more than prejudice, constituting the most dangerous kind of evidence."