Tuesday 24 September 2013

Jason Baldwin - West Memphis Three - to speak at AIDWYC 20th Anniversary Gala

The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) will be hosting “BACK to the FUTURE” a day-long educational conference, gala dinner and an evening of festivities in recognition of its 20th Anniversary. 
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Hyatt Regency
370 King St W Toronto, ON M5V 1J9
JASON BALDWIN (West Memphis Three) to be Keynote Speaker at AIDWYC’s Gala Dinner.

Interviews can be scheduled for all participants as well as AIDWYC’s Co-Presidents Jonathan Freedman and Ralph Steinberg:
CONTACT:  Stephen Weir at 416-801-3101 or 416-489-5868. stephen@stephenweir.com,
Gala Keynote Speaker, Jason Baldwin (West Memphis Three)—one of three teenagers wrongly imprisoned for 18 years for the murder of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.  Mr. Baldwin and his two co-accused were released in 2011.  Mr. Baldwin joins a long list of wrongly convicted Canadians and Americans who will be in Toronto to participate in this milestone event.
Conference –reflecting on past convictions through the lens of today’s developments in forensic sciences, research and evidence and working towards preventing and correcting wrongful convictions in the future.
Topics to be discussed by leading experts in their fields include: History of Innocence Work, Shaken Baby Syndrome, the Role of the Crown in Preventing Wrongful Convictions, the Role of Bias in the System, False Confessions/Plea Bargains, the relationship between Forensic Science and Miscarriages of Justice and the Long Way Home – the wrongly convicted and their families share their stories. 
The conference will include exoneree and AIDWYC Board member Ron Dalton who was incarcerated for 9 years for a non-murder before being exonerated.  Also participating  amongst many others will be the Wrongly Convicted and their Families, Toronto lawyer and AIDWYC co-founder James Lockyer, New York lawyers and co-founder’s of the Innocence Project Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, the godfather of innocence work and founder of Centurion Ministries, James McCloskey,  co-host of the Fifth Estate, Linden MacIntyre, Special advisor to the Commissioner of the Elliot Lake Inquiry and former Special Advisor on wrongful convictions to the Department of Justice, Stephen Bindman, retired Kingston, Ontario Chief of Police, William Closs, Judge Anne Derrick, QC of the Provincial and Family Court of Nova Scotia, Professor Tim Moore from the Department  of Psychology at Glendon College , who is a consultant and expert witness in criminal trials both in Canada and the United States, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
The media and public are welcome to attend “Back to the Future”.  Tickets can be purchased through AIDWYC’s website www.aidwyc.org.
Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jessie Misskelley Jr. (West Memphis Three) were tried and convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys.  Mr. Echols was sentenced to death; Mr. Misskelley Jr. and Jason Baldwin were sentenced to life imprisonment with two 20-year sentences added to Mr. Misskelley’s life sentence.
The West Memphis Three were released in part due to dedicated attorneys, a skilled private investigator, a series of documentary films produced by HBO, half a dozen books; hundreds of magazine, newspaper, and television features which drew international attention to their case.  Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan will be releasing a feature film, Devil’s Knot, the true story of the West Memphis Three case, starring Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth.
Atom Egoyan has dramatized for the screen the story of the West Memphis Three.  The film previewed to critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this fall.  Critics see this as an important film that is as compelling and disturbing as the truth itself.  Egoyan is a master at telling tales about deeply misunderstood outsiders, their families and communities, and their darkest fantasies.  In Devil’s Knot Egoyan details the small-town lives of ordinary people befuddled and angered by the senseless killing in their ostensibly safe town and the private investigator for whom the sum of the case’s parts doesn’t quite add up, and who is driven to get at the truth.
AIDWYC’s “Back to the Future” conference will educate the legal profession, the judiciary and law enforcement and compel them to respect society’s ethical obligation to reverse wrongful convictions when evidence proves a miscarriage of justice has occurred.
A number of high profile musicians and actors including Eddie Vedder, the Dixie Chicks and Johnnie Depp worked hard to secure their release based on flaws in their original trial and DNA evidence.
The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted is a national, non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to identifying, advocating for, and exonerating individuals convicted of a crime that they did not commit and to preventing such injustices in the future through education and reform.

For Further Information Please Contact:
Debbie Oakley at doakley@rogers.com or 416-648-4275 or Stephen Weir at 416-801-3101 or 416-489-5868. stephen@stephenweir.com

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Deciding on a location - It is a Presser dark art!


The Honourable Hilary Mary Weston at the podium - downtown Loblaws

 By Stephen Weir
(from a Huffington Post Blog by the author)

I have done it in a plane. Once on a train. There was that time amongst Cuba's sugar cane. Always too often in the rain, and even yes, in Spain (well a Spanish restaurant). I have never organised or attended one held in a meat market .... until today. I am rhyming 'bout the kick-off Press Conference - the bread-and-butter event of any PR campaign.
In the dark arts of organising successful press conferences, often one of the trickiest, most over-thought and criticised decisions is where you are going to actually stage the presser.  In a hotel ballroom? In a theatre? In a park? At City Hall?
Locating where you hold a briefing for the media is considered a make-or-break decision for an expensive launch. A great location doesn't guarantee good coverage, however, a poor location will hinder the media turn-out.
You want to be easily accessible to the major media outlets. There has to be parking.  If it is a BIG news story it is a must to have room out front for a couple TV sat trucks (whether they show up or not is a different issue).  You have to be sure that the media's cars and trucks won't get towed.
The endless list continues. There has to be free Wifi for social media. There should be public transit close by, and, most importantly, the location has to be media neutral -- you never ever want to hold a presser in the parking lot of CTV headquarters and expect the CBC to show up!
What about holding it in a grocery store in a space between a counter dishing out stinky gorganzola and head cheese and the dash-and-go prepared egg salad sandwich bar?  Would you have a former Lieutenant Governor and a UK "Lady" announce a literary prize while shoppers try to navigate their carts past newspaper scribes, TV crews and radio reporters.  My answer would be  NO. Never. Too Risky.
But, I would be wrong.  This morning I attended the Hilary Weston Prize  Non-Fiction Shortlist announcement that was held at the downtown Toronto Loblaws store (the old Maple Leaf Gardens) in the aisle between the deli counter and the pre-made lunch item coolers.  
The Writer's Trust annual non-fiction award now bears the name and the patronage of the former Lieutenant Governor.  Hilary and her husband Galen Weston, along with Baroness Black of Crossharbour (Barbara Amiel), were the three "big name draws" at the morning presser.  I wager none of them would ever be spotted bellying up to the Meat Counter and ordering a pound of ground but today they were happy to share the aisles with downtown shoppers.
Loblaws, owned by the Weston family, has also come on board big time helping to sponsor the large annual Canadian non-fiction book prize. They wanted to show the media how they would soon be putting the five books on this morning's shortlist into grocery stores across the nation.  Juxtaposing the wealth of one of Canada's richest families with every-day people queueing up to buy grub, effectively brought home the message that for most Canadian authors, writing a non-fiction book is a hand-to-mouth experience.  Winning this particular prize will give one starving author the ability to move from the wieners 'n' beans shelf to crackers and foie gras in Aisle Five.
Back to the actual press conference, the set-up team put in a sound system and stage that easily overcame the noise and sight line problems one might expect in a meat market! This is the second year that the event has been held at Loblaws and the number of media covering the shortlist announcement has mushroomed  - oops, wrong food reference since this morning's press conference location decision was a long way away from the veggies, fruits and nuts!

Tuesday 17 September 2013

BIG names on the street this Sunday: Meg Tilly, Chrystia Freeland, Austin Clarke

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 16, 2013 (Toronto): 
See Joseph Boyden, Meg Tilly, Chrystia Freeland, Austin Clarke, and more on the Bestsellers Stage at this Sunday’s The Word On The Street Toronto!
The Bestsellers Stage at The Word On The Street Toronto is packed with the personalities and programming that audiences won’t want to miss. Festival goers are invited to see Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning novelist Joseph Boyden, on stage to present his long-awaited, Scotiabank Giller Prize-longlisted novel The Orenda, tour the best street food and learn how to replicate the experience at home with culinary TV stars James Cunningham and Pay Chen; hear from international-journalist-turned-politician Chrystia Freeland and celebrity-actor-turned-celebrity-author Meg Tilly, and find out how Bruce Poon Tip, the award-winning CEO of G Adventures, finds success without sacrifice.
Take a trip through the legendary writing career of Austin Clarke, in conversation with his longtime editor and friend Patrick Crean, and listen in as a panel of genre fiction superstars—L. Marie Adeline, Joy Fielding, Susanna Kearsley, and J. Kent Messum—discuss what’s trending and where there is cross-pollination between genres today.
The Bestsellers Stage is a stellar venue in a constellation of extraordinary programming at this free festival. Click here for full Bestsellers Stage programming details. To find out more about the festival’s all-Canadian line-up of literary stars, click here.
About The Word On The Street:
Each year in September, in the cities of Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax, The Word On The Street unites the country in a national celebration of literacy and the Canadian written word.  Annually attracting more than 200,000 visitors to its Queen’s Park Circle location, The Word On The Street Toronto is the largest book and magazine festival in Canada.  This year’s event takes place on Sunday, September 22nd.
Media Contact:                                                
June Dickenson                                               
Festival Director:  
Heather Kanabe
For More Information – Follow us on Twitter @TorontoWOTS – Become a fan on Facebook and visit: www.thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto