A Commission of Inquiry is currently underway in Winnipeg, Manitoba, into the wrongful conviction of Thomas Sophonow. Sophonow, a British Columbia man, was tried three times, convicted twice and spent almost four years in prison for the 1981 murder of Winnipeg waitress Barbara Stoppel before he was set free by the Manitoba Court of Appeal. The mandate of the Inquiry is to review the police investigation and the multiple judicial proceedings against Mr. Sophonow, report on any systemic issues and make recommendations concerning the current administration of criminal justice in the Province of Manitoba.
Former Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory was appointed as Commissioner of the Inquiry, and counsel to him are Richard Wolson, Q.C. of Gindin Wolson Simmonds and Marilyn Field-Marsham of Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP.
The parties who have been granted standing are the following: Mr. Thomas Sophonow, represented by Lyle Harris of Harris & Brun in Vancouver and Peter Wilson of Wilson & Buck in Vancouver; the Stoppel Family, represented by J. Prober of the Prober Law Office in Winnipeg; the Manitoba Association of Crown Attorneys; the Winnipeg Police Service, represented by Marvin Samphir, Gordon Shumacher and Kim Carswell of the Winnipeg Police Service and by David Hill and Sherri Walsh of Hill, Abra Dewar in Winnipeg; and the Province of Manitoba, represented by E. William Olson, Q.C. of Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatman in Winnipeg and Rod Stephenson, Q.C. of Aikins, MacAulay & Thorvaldson in Winnipeg.
Other parties granted standing are The Department of Justice of the Province of Manitoba, represented by Tanys Bjornson of Civil Legal Services; the Winnipeg Police Association, represented by Michael Green of Green & Dixon in Winnipeg; the four Crown Attorneys who prosecuted Mr. Sophonow: George Dangerfield, Gregg Lawlor, Stuart Whitley and Robert Gosman, represented by Randy McNicol, Q.C. of Filmore, Riley in Winnipeg; and The Association in Defence of the Wrongfully Convicted is represented by James Lockyer of Pinkofsky, Lockyer in Toronto and Louis Sokolov and Melvyn Green of Sack, Goldblatt, Mitchell in Toronto.