Rubin “Hurricane” Carter died in Toronto Sunday at the age of 76. I met him at the old Vancouver Public Library (the prominent downtown Vancouver building now occupied by a Victoria’s Secret lingerie store) several years ago, while he was on a speaking tour. I found him to be charming, ebullient and passionate. What impressed me most was his apparent lack of bitterness after spending 19 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. The best years of Rubin Carter’s life, and the opportunity to excel in a professional boxing career, were taken away by a fallible criminal justice system, yet he remained remarkably upbeat. The “Hurricane” was an exceptional human being. May he rest in peace.
We have been acting as counsel for Ivan Henry since 2006, when the provincial government appointed a special prosecutor to investigate whether Mr. Henry was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Mr. Henry had been sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment in 1983, following his conviction on ten counts of sexual assault. In 2010 the British Columbia Court of Appeal acquitted Mr. Henry of all charges, finding that “the verdict on each count was not one that a properly instructed jury could reasonably have rendered.” He was freed after spending almost 27 years in jail.
Ivan Henry was never going to be the middleweight boxing champion of the world and Bob Dylan didn’t write a song about him.
The government has not provided Mr. Henry with any compensation for his wrongful conviction. His civil claim is scheduled to proceed to trial on September 8, 2014.