Viewing entries posted in December 2013
Jack Waterford reported yesterday in The Canberra Times that the Eastman Inquiry might be going into recession for good, if the DPP gets its way. Read http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/eastman-inquiry-in-recess--for-good-20131206-2ywzs.html#ixzz2mjzxu29W. The DPP says the inquiry should be circumscribed, or quashed altogether, because the grounds upon which it was ordered in September 2012 did not satisfy the legal requirements (although they did not appeal at the time). The DPP is arguing that an inquiry can only consider fresh information or argument, or matters which could not have been raised before the 1995 trial. The article provides an insightful overview of the issues in the case and the approach or attitude to date of the AFP. Interesting that the Inquiry seems to have lost contact with the primary forensic scientist whose evidence was to come under determined scrutiny in relation to gunshot residue.
For the dangers involved in using informers or "snitches" in criminal cases and how their use can lead to wrongful convictions see http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/when-lies-lead-to-wrongful-convictions/article_038434d8-548c-11e3-b64a-001a4bcf887a.html.
Phil Locke has described the initiative to establish a Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct as "huge". See http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2013/11/22/center-for-prosecutor-integrity-to-establish-registry-of-prosecutorial-misconduct/
Police Chiefs in the US Lead Efforts to Prevent Wrongful Convictions by Altering Investigative Practices
It is great to see that Police Chiefs in the US are tackling this problem head-on. They can hardly deny there is an issue with 311 people now conclusively exonerated by the US Innocence Project through the use of DNA. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is looking at a range of measures to prevent any future miscarriages including new guidelines for conducting photo lineups, videotaping witness interviews and corroborating information from informants. The group is also looking at formalising the way flawed cases are reviewed and the way assertions of innocence are investigated. The group recently convened a national policy summit on wrongful convictions. The goal is to continue to evaluate, "slow down" and "get the right person". This all seems eminently sensible. The findings of the summit also reflect a growing willingness to investigate past errors by adopting what the IACP called a "culture of openness" in rethinking how police analyse evidence and tackle problems such as investigative bias. See http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2013/12/02/police-chiefs-lead-effort-to-prevent-wrongful-convictions-by-altering-investigative-practices/
I am delighted to announce that Eve Ash's film Shadow of Doubt on the Sue Neill-Fraser murder conviction has been nominated for a prestigious AFI award. The actual category is the AACTA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary. Shadow of Doubt is one of only four documentaries nominated. Congratulations to Eve and her team for an outstanding achievement which was executed with a real passion for both truth and justice. See http://www.aacta.org/winners-nominees/3rd-aacta-awards-nominees.aspx (You may need to click on Documentary to get through to the actual nominations).
Very honoured to be attending Parliament House today at lunch-time as I have been nominated and short-listed for a Tasmanian Human Rights Award as part of Human Rights Week. My website clearly states my organisational values as Integrity, Justice and Humanity. I understand that I was nominated for my work on miscarriage of justice cases, particularly the case of Sue Neill-Fraser here in Tasmania. If I do happen to win this award, it will certainly be another important milestone in the fight to get the death of Bob Chappell investigated by way of a Coronial hearing and the conviction of Sue Neill-Fraser independently examined as to its safety. I certainly plan to continue my efforts, with others, to see national reform in relation to a further right to appeal provision and the establishment of a national body similar to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in the UK. In that respect, please check out the lead article on today's Tasmanian Times website by Dr Bob Moles from Adelaide.
Terms of Reference for the Inquiry into the Conviction of David Eastman for the Murder of AFP Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester
The terms of reference for the Board of Inquiry into the Eastman conviction for the Winchester shooting murder in 1989 make for very interesting reading. See http://www.eastmaninquiry.org.au/terms-of-reference/
The retiring WA Coroner, Mr Alastair Hope, has come out in the latest annual report calling for changes to the law to address situations where police officers leak or display confidential coronial information. See http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/state-coroner-alastair-hope-calls-for-new-laws-for-wa-police-officers-who-share-private-information/story-fnhocxo3-1226772068417#. I tend to agree with the comments of WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan in that there is already mechanisms to deal with such misconduct. However, following the recent incident with Detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles in Victoria last week, concerning a half-naked photo of rape/murder victim Jill Meagher, it may be necessary to reinforce the need for absolute confidentiality in such matters. But I do believe that more than legislation or threats to enforce such legislation is required. After my 30 years in policing, I feel that a degree of unavoidable desensitisation occurs where police, including well-intentioned and honourable police officers, fail to realise the sensitivity of some material and its potential impact on families and ordinary members of the public. I think ongoing training and guidance is required to remind police about how organisational culture can affect their decision-making and judgment on occasions. Clear policies on what is permitted by way of public presentations should also be put in place by the organisation.