Viewing entries posted in December 2012
Thanks to all of you who have visited my website during the year and who have found time to read, and even comment upon, my blog postings. It's been a big year, with the launch of the BEtter Consulting website on 27 January 2012, and the start of my legal practice in July 2012. During the period from 27 January 2012 up until today, BEtter Consulting has had 14,929 Unique visitors to the website!!! This has included 420,597 hits and 273,878 pages being visited. Got to be happy with that! The main users of the website come from Australia, United States, China, Germany and the Netherlands. There has also been a lot of interest in my formal presentations. For example, 131 people have downloaded the presentation on miscarriages of justice that I gave at the ANZSOC conference recently in Auckland.
Found this interesting quote in Ross on Crime in relation to the dangers of "presumptions":
I was reading the latest edition of the Law Letter which is the journal of the Law Society of Tasmania. At page 18 there is an article by Tasmanian criminal barrister, Mr Greg Barns, entitled "The Golden Thread ... NOT in Tasmania!". Before touching on the key points in the article, I thought it would be useful to explain what is meant by the term "golden thread" in the context of the criminal law.
Below is an excerpt from an address by Justice Michael Kirby in Melbourne at the launch of Principles of Criminal Law, 2001, Law Book Company, by Simon Bronitt and Bernadette McSherry held on 22 February 2001 at the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) Conference at the University of Melbourne. I found it this morning when looking for material on the "golden thread" of the criminal law. It reminded me of just how important the criminal law area is to the rule of law:
Page 4 of The Weekend Australian for 22-23 December 2012 reported that the appeal papers had been lodged in the NSW Supreme Court in the Keli Lane matter. Keli was sentenced in 2011 to at least 13 years and five months behind bars for murdering her second baby, Tegan, on 14 September 1996 (some 15 years after the event). Her lawyer, Ben Archbold, said there were eight grounds on which Lane's conviction would be appealed, including that the trial judge failed to leave open an alternative count of manslaughter to the jury. He said it would also be contended that the Crown Prosecutor had reversed the onus of proof in his closing address, which was prejudicial to the trial. This is a similar issue to one that was argued successfully in the Gordon Wood case, which also involved the same prosecutor.
When I attended the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) Conference in Auckland at the end of November, several book companies had recent publications on display. I discovered two new books by Michael Naughton from the UK. I have previously read his work and found it extremely thought provoking and interesting. Michael is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Law and Department of Sociology at the University of Bristol, specialising in the area of miscarriages of justice and the wrongful conviction of the innocent. He is the Founder and Chair of INUK, which exists to support and encourage the creation of member innocence projects in universities in the UK to undertake and facilitate academic research on the various related problems of wrongful convictions, and to inform public and policy debates. He also set up and directs the University of Bristol Innocence Project (UoBIP), the first Innocence Project in the UK, through which he coordinates student investigations into cases of alleged wrongful imprisonment.
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie made a dramatic announcement on 20 December 2012 that there will be a further review of the Graham Stafford matter. This review will be undertaken by a former Supreme Court judge and Solicitor-General, Kenneth Mackenzie QC. The Attorney-General has commented that he anticipates that the advice will be settled early in the New Year. The Stafford matter is one of the most controversial murder cases in Queensland's history and Stafford's conviction was viewed by the court as a miscarriage of justice. Paul Wilson and Graeme Crowley's book Who Killed Leanne Holland? is a must read if you want to understand the side of the story that doesn't seem to be getting airplay at the present time. See article here http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/attorney-general-jarrod-bleijie-announces-review-into-murder-case-against-graham-stafford/story-e6freoof-1226541343543
Interesting article in today's The Australian which claims that a review of the Graham Stafford saga has not produced any evidence of new suspects or persons of interest. Queensland Police have reignited the controversial pursuit of the murderer of 12 year old Leanne Holland, urging that Graham Stafford, who was convicted, jailed for 15 years and then cleared of the crime, should face trial again. However, the DPP has concluded that another trial would not be in the public interest. I have previously written about this case on my blog and have carefully read the book by Paul Wilson and Graeme Crowley Who Killed Leanne Holland? I also heard Graham Stafford speak at the Perth International Justice conference in March of this year. Whilst I have not undertaken an in-depth study of the case, it did seem to me that there were some major issues with the case against Graham Stafford and some strong alternate suspects. I would dearly love to examine the police review into this matter. See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/we-got-murder-case-right-police-review/story-e6frg6nf-1226539996179
Have just been reading Kathryn M. Campbell's chapter "The Fallibility of Justice in Canada" in Wrongful Conviction edited by Huff and Killias (Temple University Press Philadelphia 2010). In Canada, after exhausting all of their appeals, individuals may apply to the Federal Minister of Justice for a conviction review. This review has been available since 1968. Following many years of ad hoc review, in 1993, the Criminal Conviction Review Group (CCRG) was formed, reporting to the Assistant Deputy Minister of Justice. The CCRG is a group of lawyers working for the Department of Justice who review convictions thought to be in error. The groups makes recommendations to the Minister regarding remedies.
Another issue requiring urgent attention in Australia is that of proper compensation for those who have been wrongfully convicted. I am aware of one high profile exoneree and his/her family that is really struggling to get proper compensation for what occurred. I'm sure most members of the public wouldn't be aware of the enormous stress that exonerees face in trying to integrate back into society and attain a decent and reasonable lifestyle. This clearly should not be the case, particularly in the event that there has been any inappropriate conduct by police, prosecutors, lawyers or forensic scientists. In fact, a recent article from the Albany Law Review by Rachel Dioso-Villa states (at page 8) that from the analysis of cases the occurrence of "state misconduct" may be a "pivotal" factor in the determination and allocation of actual compensation payments. The article (referred to below) points out the very real limitations for those seeking compensation. Australia is one of the few common law jurisdictions that do not have state or federal compensation statutes for exonerees, leaving ex gratia payments as the primary means to seek restitution (however, the ACT is an exception). There are also no guidelines to evaluate cases or allocate awards. Furthermore, ex gratia (or "out of grace" payments) are indisputable without the chance of appeal. The article reviews successful and unsuccessful ex gratia applications for wrongful conviction in Australia from 1985 to 2011 and examines the state's corresponding rationales for these decisions. Cases examined include Farah Jama, Chamberlain, McLeod-Lindsay, Darryl Beamish, the Mickelbergs, Vincent Narkle, Diane Fingleton, Splatt and Mallard. The article finds that the rationales lacked any precedent or transparency in the decision-making process. The article concludes with suggestions for a comprehensive statute that addresses monetary and non-monetary consequences of wrongful conviction. See http://www.questia.com/library/1G1-297426803/without-legal-obligation-compensating-the-wrongfully