SCC rules wrongfully convicted man not entitled to compensation
Rejean Hinse speaks to reporters at a news conference in Montreal, Thursday, April 14, 2011. (Graham Hughes / The CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Friday, June 19, 2015 9:58AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 19, 2015 10:24AM EDT
The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that Rejean Hinse, a Quebec man who spent nearly 50 years fighting to clear his name after being wrongfully convicted of armed robbery, is not entitled to compensation from the federal government.
The court said in its ruling Friday that Hinse has failed to prove that the then-minister of justice acted recklessly or "in bad faith" by rejecting his applications for mercy.
"There is no denying that the miscarriage of justice of which Mr. Hinse was a victim is most regrettable," Friday's ruling said.
"However, in the absence of bad faith or serious recklessness on the Minister’s part, and of a causal connection between his actions and the alleged damage, Mr. Hinse’s action against the AGC (Attorney General of Canada) must fail."
Hinse was sentenced in 1964 to 15 years in prison for a 1961 armed home robbery in Mont-Laurier, Que. He was paroled after five years and served 10 years probation, but always maintained his innocence.
In 1966, he persuaded three of the five co-conspirators in the robbery to sign affidavits to clear his name. He then submitted three applications for mercy to the federal Minister of Justice and an application for a pardon to the Governor General in Council. They were all denied.
In 1991, Hinse appealed his conviction to the Quebec Court of Appeal. His conviction was finally overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1997, which determined that the evidence presented at his 1964 trial had not been enough to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt.
Hinse sued the town of Mont-Laurier, the attorney general of Quebec, and the federal attorney general for compensation. The province and the town settled out of court for $4.5 million in 2011.
A Quebec court ordered the federal government to pay almost $5.8 million, but the award was thrown out by the Quebec Court of Appeal, which said Hinse had not established the fault of the federal authorities.