Viewing entries posted in July 2013
Today at lunchtime, in the offices of the Hon. Andrew Wilkie here in Hobart, I spoke to members of the National Council of Women Tasmania (NCWT) on my background and new role as a lawyer and integrity/justice consultant. I also told them of my recent work in the Sue Neill-Fraser case and asked them for their support in informing the community and agitating for an independent review of the case, through a variety of mechanisms. The motto of the group is appropriately:
The big day has finally arrived. Today sees the World Premiere of the Eve Ash documentary Shadow of Doubt on Foxtel ci tonight at 7.30 pm and at the State Cinema here in Hobart at 8.30 pm. We have a range of important VIP guests attending the event here in Hobart. You should also tune in to A Current Affair tonight at 6.30 pm on Channel 9, for coverage of the Sue Neill-Fraser case. About to jump in my car and head off to Risdon Prison to update Sue on developments.
My previous blogs have indicated what I perceive to be possible issues in relation to the Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA) issues in the Sue Neill-Fraser case, from a layman's perspective. I certainly do not profess to be an expert in this area, but a critical analysis of the expert evidence at trial and the forensic reports provided throws up potentially concerning matters, particularly as to whether some of the patterns detected might be attributed to a cough or a sneeze during a nosebleed (Bob Chappell had to be hospitalised in December 2008 in Queensland for his nosebleeds which occurred on the yacht) and the luminol testing of the dinghy and the interpretation and presentation of the results.
Locke in his article on the broken US Justice system also covers "junk" forensic science. He refers to data from the US Innocence Project which shows that from the 225 DNA exonerations studied, 52% of those involved "unvalidated or improper forensics". Data from the National Registry of Exonerations for 873 cases places this number at 24%. Locke prefers to refer to forensic "technology" as he refuses to call it a "science". He says that the ONLY forensic technology that has a truly scientific foundation is DNA analysis. And the only forensic technology that can make a statistically valid identification of a single individual is nuclear DNA analysis (as opposed to mitochondrial DNA analysis). He states:
The Locke article referred to in blog postings over the last few days, also covers the issues of Juries. Locke says that juries "scare me to death". He comments:
Today I am covering Point 4 of Locke's article "Why I Think the US Justice System is Broken - and Why It's Not Getting Fixed" from the US wrongful convictions blog of 20 February 2013. My blog postings for 27, 28 and 29 July 2013 cover the earlier parts/points.
Further to my previous blog postings of 27 and 28 July 2013, today I cover the issue of Judges and their possible contribution to Miscarriages of Justice according to Locke. Once again, it needs to be kept in mind that in the US, judges, like prosecutors, are an elected political position. Locke states that his experience tells him that judicial misconduct is rare but that judicial bias may not be. He states that when judges do "go wrong", the impacts can be "staggering". He says that there are few more serious threats to individual liberty than a "corrupt" judge. We are very fortunate here in Australia and judges go out of their way to ensure integrity, independence and impartiality.
Following on from my blog of 27 July 2013 in relation to an excellent article by Phil Locke about the US criminal justice system, I will today cover point 2 in his article - Prosecutors.
Very interesting article in The West Australian in the last day or so about the submission of a Petition for Mercy to the WA Attorney-General seeking referral of the Robin Macartney 2001 conviction for murder back to the courts in relation to the 1999 murder of 27 year old Lalita Horsman at Greenough beach. See http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/18165461/greenough-killer-seeks-appeal/. The High Court had previously dismissed his application to challenge his conviction.
Excellent article on the haphazard nature of justice in the US and how it might be fixed. See http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2013/02/20/why-i-think-the-us-justice-system-is-broken-and-why-its-not-getting-fixed/ (which I found on Bob Moles' excellent Networked Knowledge website).