The impact of an unreliable witness

“It is the honest, but mistaken, eyewitness who creates the real challenge for the [justice] system,” said James Stribopoulos of York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, in The Globe and Mail Feb. 17 in a story about the case of Joe Webber who was wrongfully convicted of robbery and forcible confinement in 2008. Stribopoulos said eyewitnesses usually appear sincere, making their testimony compelling, yet their evidence can all too often “be inherently flawed and completely unreliable.”

Stribopoulos praised the fact that trial judges now routinely issue warnings to juries about the frailties of eyewitness testimony, but he said the next step must be a prohibition on all in-court identifications. “That sort of identification evidence is really worthless,” he said. “Appellate courts have recognized it as such, but there is still a puzzling reluctance to exclude it from evidence.”

Stelco called cleanup saboteur

Delisting Hamilton harbour as an international toxic hotspot depends on cleaning up the reef and improving sewage treatment, wrote The Hamilton Spectator Feb. 17 in a story about a new book that reveals Stelco Inc. tried unsuccessfully to derail the Hamilton harbour remedial action plan (RAP) in 1997. York University researchers say delisting would bring the bay area almost $1 billion in economic benefits over 25 years.

Former York administrator has gone to the birds

Nature enthusiast David Homer retired from a career in the hectic city of Toronto to move to the peaceful north and live a life for the birds, wrote the Orillia Packet & Times Feb. 17.

“It’s amazing to me that some people can go through life not knowing one bird from another,” said Homer, a self-taught bird sculptor. Homer creates his pieces in a small studio overlooking Lake Dalrymple. Originally purchasing the property as a cottage retreat, Homer and his wife Bonnie have since made it their home.

Homer spent the majority of his working years in the broadcasting industry, before his retirement in 1996. At that time, he held the position of assistant vice-president in charge of business operations at York University.

While working in Toronto, Homer was given a magazine about birds by a York student who knew of his adoration for nature. The magazine had a story in it about a recently retired clergyman who began making carvings of birds. His interest piqued, Homer ordered a book on bird carving advertised in the magazine and began teaching himself how to sculpt birds.

Starting out with carvings mainly of ducks, Homer has since incorporated songbirds into his collection because they are smaller and take less time to create. Even at that, each small bird takes approximately 200 or more hours, start to finish.

Congolese refugees arrive in The Blue Mountains

The Kemu family has finally arrived, wrote The Blue Mountains Courier-Herald Feb. 16 in a story about the Congolese refugees’ arrival. Jessica Jackel, a York University student and resident of The Blue Mountains who spent time in Africa and learned Swahili, met us at the airport.

On air

  • Harvey Schwartz, professor emeritus of economics in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, spoke about the City of Toronto’s rising debt, on CFRB Radio Feb. 16.
  • Cynthia Holmes, adjunct professor of real estate and infrastructure development in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about the federal government’s move to tighten up home mortgage rules, on CBC Radio’s “Ontario Today” Feb. 16.