Viewing entries posted in January 2013
The Tasmanian Times is today running my findings in relation to Tasmania Police practices in the Sue Neill-Fraser case, following my analysis of records provided by police on the issues of call-taking and doorknocking. See http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/weblog/article/sue-neill-fraser-case-call-taking-and-recording.-doorknocking-/.
A documentary called The Central Park Five premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012 and was released in the US in November 2012. The movie outlines the MoJ involving the wrongful incarceration of five black juveniles for the assault and rape of a female jogger in New York City's Central Park in 1989. The convictions were vacated in 2002 when a convicted rapist and murderer serving a life sentence for other crimes claimed to have committed the crime. DNA evidence confirmed his involvement in the rape. It seems that the police investigation left much to be desired with the boys having been intimidated, lied to and coerced into making false confessions. The detectives had used "ruses" to convince the suspects to confess, with one of the juveniles only confessing when he was told that fingerprints were found on the victim's clothing. It was also the case that none of the DNA collected at the crime scene matched the suspects. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Park_Jogger_case. I hope we get the opportunity to see this doco in Australia.
Thanks to a friend and colleague for drawing this one to my attention. It outlines a miscarriage of justice in the French inquisitorial system, which is apparently a rare occurrence.
Someone asked me the other day what it was that drove me to spend such an inordinate amount of time and energy on Miscarriage of Justice cases. It caused me to reflect long and hard about why I feel the way I do about such matters and why I feel compelled to probe, challenge and pursue every lead, no matter how minor.
Fascinating article in the last day or so on a murder case in New Zealand which is said to have transfixed the nation See http://www.theage.com.au/world/guilty-by-suspicion-20130114-2co9j.html. This case, by definition, is not a miscarriage of justice (as referred to in the literature), as there has not been a "wrongful conviction". Nevertheless, the matter has caused a great deal of stress and heartache for the family involved and concern for New Zealanders. The case involved the shooting murder of farmer, Scott Guy, 32, at the gates of his farm in July 2010. The victim's brother in law, Ewen Macdonald was arrested and charged with his murder but acquitted in court in July 2012.
The latest case to have been exposed as a miscarriage of justice involves a Victorian teacher, Josephine Greensill. ABC Radio National broadcast information about the case on 18 December 2012. See http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/lawreport/josephine-greensill/4432288. The Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal quashed her conviction and ordered her to be released without delay after ruling that the guilty verdict was "unsafe and unsatisfactory" and could not be permitted to stand. The Court also found that no jury properly instructed could have convicted her of those offences. In 2010, Josephine was sentenced to five years in gaol for very serious child sex offences. The jury found her guilty of assaulting two eight year old boys back in 1979. At the time, her husband and own child were in the house. The two complainants had had a sleepover at Josephine's house, sleeping in a tent in her back garden. They both alleged, years later, that during the course of the evening, Josephine had entered the tent and had intercourse with both of them. The Court of Appeal found that there was the likelihood that the two complainants, now men in their 40's, had collaborated, and that there was a real possibility of concoction. In the interview on radio, Josephine recounts that she spent 2 years, 5 months and 13 days in gaol. She also stressed that she was not eligible for parole as she had shown no remorse and wouldn't complete the sex offenders program. She was also given a particularly hard time in gaol because of the nature of the offences and was held in protective custody.
All of us are well aware of the term "Beyond Reasonable Doubt". In fact, there have been movies and books with that very title, including the very famous book by David Yallop about the Allan Arthur Thomas case in NZ which led to Thomas' pardon (Penguin Books 1978). But how well do we understand its meaning, particularly in a strict legal context? And what about jurors? How are they meant to understand the term?
A Victorian Court of Appeal judge will be brought to WA to hear the appeal lodged by the Crown in the Rayney matter. See http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/the-judge-who-holds-rayneys-fate/story-e6frg12c-1226548216639. No WA Judges can be involved in the matter due to conflicts of interest arising from the Rayneys' high profile involvement in the legal community in WA.
As you may have detected from previous entries on my blog, I am very interested in medico-legal issues and becoming involved in coronial law, particularly so given my experience in coronial investigation, forensic science and my Pharmacy qualification and experience. Found a very useful (undated but recent) paper on the WA Coroner's website (see http://www.coronerscourt.wa.gov.au/_files/Inquest_Hearings_WA.pdf) which outlines the inquest process and provides useful guidance on applying for an inquest to be held. The paper states that there are currently no guidelines in WA relating to when it is "desirable" to hold an inquest but it is anticipated that such will be produced following the outcome of the Strategic Review of the Office of the State Coroner and the government response to the recent Law Reform Commission of Western Australia Final Report, Review of Coronial Practice in Western Australia (2012). Will be following up on the Law Reform Commission report and any subsequent developments. The paper does refer to guidelines in a number of jurisdictions such as Queensland and NZ.