Viewing entries posted in June 2013
My keynote speech to 800 delegates at the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science (ANZFSS) International Symposium in September 2012 has now been published online in the Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences. There are clearly still issues in forensic science which lead to Miscarriage of Justice cases, demonstrated by the 2012 NSW Court of Criminal Appeal decision in the Gordon Wood case.
An Historic Miscarriage of Justice - Murder in Gun Alley 1921 - The Wrongful Conviction and Execution of Colin Ross
Thoroughly entertained this morning by former NT DPP Rex Wild's production of Murder in Gun Alley performed by the Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT (CLANT) "players". The play relived the original trial in which Colin Ross was found guilty of the murder of a 12 year old girl in the backstreets of Melbourne in 1921. Alma Tirtschke, who had been sexually assaulted and strangled, was found in Gun Alley on 31 December 1921. Colin Ross, the proprietor of a nearby "wine salon" was subsequently convicted of her murder. Following unsuccessful appeals, including an application for special leave to the High Court, he was hanged on 24 April 1922, only 115 days later. His trial had been conducted in an atmosphere of public fervour, offers of reward and great controversy. He protested his innocence throughout. There were a string of unsavoury eyewitnesses, a prison informant and numerous hallmarks of classic Miscarriage of Justice (MoJ) cases. Even the forensic evidence, involving hairs found on blankets and said to belong to the victim, was seriously deficient, particularly when a "close" and married female friend of Ross' also had red hair.
Brilliant presentation on Tuesday from Dr Peggy Dwyer from the NSW Bar. Peggy was Counsel Assisting the Coroner in the inquest held in Alice Springs last year into the tragic death of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the cells at the Alice Springs police complex. The young 27 year old Aboriginal man had died on 5 January 2012, at around 11.45 pm, after having been taken into "protective custody" because he was heavily intoxicated. Little did police know that another person detained had a stash of alcohol that had not been picked up on a search by police. The young man was to drink this additional alcohol in the back of police wagon on the way to the Watch House. After his death, his blood alcohol level was found to be around 0.3.
Enjoying the conference, with the theme of "Victims of the System" here in Bali. Catching up with lots of "old" friends from the NT. I lived in Darwin from 1988 to 1999 and it seems a lot of people have stayed in the NT, unlike me, who has since lived in Adelaide, Perth and Hobart!. The 14th biennial conference of CLANT has attracted 204 delegates from every State and Territory in Australia. The delegates, who are irreverently known as "dingoes", include judges, Magistrates, academics and lawyers. The dingo is their logo and totem for the conference and adorns all the conference material. A former CJ and Administrator, Austin AC QC, who is now 88 years old is also attending the conference and wearing a different dingo t shirt every day. He tells me that he has the whole collection!
A highly relevant and fascinating paper today by SA District Court Judge Sydney Tilmouth entitled "The Wrong Direction: A Case Study and Anatomy of Successful Australian Criminal Appeals". Justice Tilmouth is the author of the well known Australian Criminal Trial Directions (ACTD) which apparently graces every bench in Australian courts.
In the Sue Neill-Fraser Yacht No Body (SNF YNB) case, the trial was to end with a curious twist, given the issue of possible drug smuggling involving the Four Winds. On 14 October 2010, the day before the jury was to hand down its verdict, there was a media release by the AFP on a major drug bust (worth $160 million) involving a similar yacht and the very same marina at which Four Winds had been purchased:
A new Practice Note on Expert Witnesses in proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia commenced on 4 June 2013. See http://www.fedcourt.gov.au/law-and-practice/practice-documents/practice-notes/cm7. Rules 23.12 of the Federal Court Rules 2011 requires a party to give a copy of the relevant guidelines to any witness they propose to retain for the purpose of preparing a report or giving evidence in a proceeding as to an opinion held by the witness that is wholly or substantially based on the specialised knowledge of the witness. The guidelines are not intended to address all aspects of an expert witness's duties but are intended to facilitate the admission of opinion evidence and to assist experts to understand in general terms what the Court expects of them. It is also hoped that the guidelines will assist individual expert witnesses to avoid the criticism that is sometimes made (whether rightly or wrongly) that expert witnesses lack objectivity, or have coloured their evidence in favour of the party calling them.
Interesting article in today's The Australian where a Victorian Deputy Commissioner and the force have been accused of false and misleading evidence to the state's child sex abuse inquiry in a "withering takedown" of their allegations. See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/church-fires-back-at-police-on-abuse/story-e6frgczx-1226665970298. A committee spokeswoman commented that any false or misleading evidence provided to a parliamentary committe is a contempt of parliament which can have serious penalties.
Australia's most trusted person for 2013 according to the Reader's Digest is neurosurgeon Charlie Teo. Similar to the trusted professions, medical people featured highly in the list with burns specialist, Fiona Woods, at No. 2 and immunologist and cancer vaccine researcher, Ian Frazer, at No. 3. The Commissioner of the AFP, Tony Negus, came in at No. 34. Tony Abbott came in at No. 75 with Julia Gillard trailing in the 95th spot. Those who scored lower than our Prime Minister were Kyle Sandilands, Eddie Obeid, Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper and Matthew Newton. See http://www.readersdigest.com.au/australias-most-trusted-people-2013.
The results of the Reader's Digest Most Trusted Professions Survey for 2013 has just been released. (See http://www.readersdigest.com.au/most-trusted-professions-2013). This year the top place is shared jointly between firefighters and paramedics. There is a strong medical slant at the top with rescue volunteers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists and veterinarians also featuring in the top 8 spots. Police came in at 13, while lawyers came in at a lowly 39 (just after clergy (all religions)). The bottom 5 were: real estate agents, sex workers, call centre staff, insurance salespeople, politicians and door to door salespeople.