Thanks to Dr Kris Klugman OAM, President of Civil Liberties Australia, for drawing this one to my attention. A most useful article in The Canberra Times on 17 May 2014 (see http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/the-david-eastman-inquiry-explained-20140516-zrekd.html) giving an overview of where things are at with the David Eastman Inquiry into the shooting death of AFP Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester, in Canberra, some 25 years ago. The article suggests that it might be possible that Mr Eastman may have his conviction quashed after almost 19 years behind bars. The Inquiry is said to have costed the taxpayer around $4 million to date.
Video of Last Night's Talk by Professor Gary Edmond on what Lawyers Need to Know about the Forensic "Sciences"
Last night's public lecture in the Centenary Theatre at UTAS in Hobart was very well attended. UTAS filmed the event and it is available here http://new.livestream.com/accounts/7587656/events/2993805. You will see my comments about miscarriages of justice and the need for, amongst other things, a Criminal Cases Review Commission from 1:09:34. There were some very critical and concerning issues raised by Gary Edmond in his talk which require urgent attention from the forensic science community in relation to the validation of many forensic science techniques, particularly in the identification/comparison areas (fingerprints, bitemarks, ballistics, shoeprints, toolmarks etc). There is also a need to undertake research to determine reliablity and error rates. The use of language by forensic scientists in court is also an issue as is the lack of independence (from police) in many of our current forensic services. Moreover, despite numerous high level reports out of countries like the US and Scotland, outlining serious problems with forensic science, the legal system appears not to have taken such concerns on board. Gary expressed concern with current expert opinion provisions in our laws of evidence concerning the requirement for "specialised knowledge" which did not give much needed attention to the concept of reliability. He informed the group that there was an important case going to the High Court shortly (R v Honeysett). I will monitor the outcome of this case. The main message coming out of this event for me was the need for much greater engagement between the forensic and legal communities.
You can now purchase your own copy of the Eve Ash AFI-nominated and international award-winning documentary Shadow of Doubt (about the Sue Neill-Fraser case here in Tasmania) online. See http://shadowofdoubt.tv/buy-the-dvd/. I am advised that the film is now being used for educational purposes by schools and universities as a useful case study.
Today started off with the Budget Breakfast (attended by around 250 persons - mostly men in suits!) hosted by KPMG at the Wrest Point Casino (7.00 am to 9.00 am). I then headed off to Risdon Women's Prison for a professional visit, then it was back to town and to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (RYCT) where I presented to the Studio Network Luncheon (of around 40 attendees), chaired by the wonderful Genevieve Atkins, on Strategies for Success (and the pursuit of "Happiness"!). Heading into town for an evening cocktail reception (involving Women Chiefs Enterprises International and others) at the Menzies Centre for Ms Fitria Sofyani from Marie Claire Indonesia (will be a chance to practise my Bahasa Indonesia). Met some wonderful people today particularly those attending the RYCT luncheon. Some great strategic networking opportunities. I hope to load a copy of my powerpoint presentation soon on the Presentations page of this website.
The Thought for the Day comes from the Weekly Bulletin of my Rotary Club - the Rotary Club of Hobart:
"Playing Forensic Science Monopoly" is the title of a plenary paper to be delivered to the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science (ANZFSS) International Symposium in Adelaide to be held from 31 August to 4 September 2014. The paper is to be delivered by Liesl Chapman SC who has an impressive history in dealing with forensic science and expert evidence matters in the courts and in Royal Commissions (See http://www.aomevents.com/ANZFSS2014/Speakers/Plenary_Speakers). A copy of the abstract for the paper can be found at http://www.aomevents.com/media/files/ANZFSS/Chapman%20L_plenary%20abstract.pdf. It appears that the presenter is of the view that dealing with forensic science in the courts is a game of chance. This is one session that I will definitely be attending.
The UK case of Kevin Nunn has resulted in a challenge that was heard last month in the UK Supreme Court. See http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/10/kevin-nunn-supreme-court-appeal.
Stuart Tipple Event Confirmed - 7.00 pm Wednesday 28 May 2014 at the Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre
Lindy Chamberlain's highly respected lawyer, Mr Stuart Tipple, will give a public lecture at the Stanley Burbury lecture theatre at UTAS, Sandy Bay, Hobart, at 7.00 pm on Wednesday 28 May 2014. The event is supported by UTAS and hosted by Professor Rob White from Criminology. The topic of the talk is:
A colleague passed this Queensland District Court decision on to me when we were discussing my blog posting from 1 May 2014 on experiments in criminal cases. R v James  QDC involves Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) and the use of a BPA experiment which led to the determination of the admissibility of evidence of a forensic "experiment".
Interesting debate here at present in Tasmania about the multi-million dollar (said to be around $50 million) Fox Eradication Program given comments by international scientific experts in the area. See http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/the-great-tasmanian-fox-hunt-...-the-background-briefing-report/. Some are calling for an inquiry into this program in light of this new evidence. Tasmanians for Transparency have called on a full inquiry by the Tasmanian Integrity Commission.