Viewing entries posted in January 2014
I will be attending the AFI/AACTA Awards tomorrow night in Sydney at the Star Casino with psychologist Eve Ash, whose documentary Shadow of Doubt is one of four movies nominated for Best Feature Length Documentary. Eve and I, along with the two others from the production team, will be walking the red carpet with our "Free Sue" badges on. You might catch it live on the TV - channel 5 from 8.30 pm onwards. It would be wonderful if the film were to win, especially due to the national and international attention it would draw to Sue's case.
I always enjoy reading the Australian Lawyers Alliance newsletter so that I can keep in touch with issues from other jurisdictions, including key ones from overseas. They have a very entertaining section containining "Opinion matters" with quirky quotes, "Fast Facts" and "Word of the Week". I really like the latter. This week's word of the week is Doryphore (DOR-ee-phor) - One who draws attention to the minor errors made by others, especially in a pestering manner; a pedantic gadfly.
The word “corruption” is a problematic one and has a host of definitions and interpretations. It is often frequently used to refer to a wide range of misconduct matters. (Interestingly, in Tasmania, when Government chose to establish an Anti-Corruption Authority (ACA), they called it the “Integrity Commission”. The legislation that underpins the agency does not even mention the word “corrupt” or “corruption” once, unlike the ACA’s in other States/Territories.)
The US Department of Justice and the US Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced appointments to a newly created National Commission on Forensic Science. Members of the commission will work to improve the practice of forensic science by developing guidance concerning the intersections between forensic science and the criminal justice system. The commission also will work to develop policy recommendations for the US Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility and requirements for formal training and certification. See http://wrongfulconvictionsblog.org/2014/01/14/national-commission-on-forensic-science/
An article from the US Florida Innocence Project argues that women are treated differently by the justice system in the United States. See http://floridainnocence.org/content/?p=10458. The article claims that women's cases are often fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, falsifying or withholding evidence, and gender-based bias. In many cases, the bias against women by prosecutors, judges, and juries is often pivotal in deciding the case. The article points out that in many cases, women are convicted using circumstantial evidence. According to a study by the Bluhm Legal Clinic's Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern Law School, 40% of female exonerees were victims of police or prosecutorial misconduct. The article also provides some illustrative case studies. In one case, it was the woman's own defence counsel who failed to adequately challenge critical forensic evidence (toxicological findings about the alleged arsenic poisoning).
Thanks Peter from Sydney for your heads up on this thought provoking article. An article by Adam Creighton in The Australian on 10 January 2014 entitled "Too many laws, too many lawyers" asks some interesting questions. See http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/too-many-laws-too-many-lawyers/story-fnc2jivw-1226798547298#. It seems that there is a dramatic waning in the number of economists and a burgeoning of lawyers. In fact, the article refers to lawyers as "anti-economists". The article states that in the nine years from June 1999, the number of people employed in the legal services industry in Australia ballooned more than 25% to 99,000. The number of practising solicitors in NSW, over the same period, surged 51% to 22,105.
There was a surprising development in the Gordon Wood case earlier this month when senior NSW Police applied to have the matter re-opened based on what they believed to be fresh and compelling evidence. See the summary provided by Dr Bob Moles at his Networked Knowledge website - http://netk.net.au/NSW/Wood1.pdf
Further Screenings of Shadow of Doubt in Hobart to Mark the 5th Anniversary of Bob Chappell's "Death"
The State Cinema Hobart will hold two "encore" screenings of the international award winning doco Shadow of Doubt on Saturday 25 January at 1.00 pm and Wednesday 29 January at 6.15 pm. The movie has now screened in Hobart, Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney, with more screenings in other major centres to occur in 2014.
Yet another story of a shocking miscarriage of justice here in Australia, this time in Victoria. Douglas Jensen was wrongly convicted of murdering his father, who died in 2000 in the kitchen of his farm house from a single shotgun wound. You can read his story at http://www.smh.com.au/national/2450-days-in-prison-for-a-murder-he-didnt-commit-20140111-30ndj.html. Douglas has now submitted a claim to the Victorian A-G for financial compensation for wrongful imprisonment. The claim was denied and Jensen was informed that the A-G was not obliged to give a reason. Is this justice?
The Eve Ash documentary Shadow of Doubt, which covers the issues surrounding the 2010 Sue Neill-Fraser murder conviction here in Tasmania, has received yet another prestigious award. This time from America - a CINE Gold Eagle award. The list of awards is growing with the movie also having been nominated here in Australia for an AFI/AACTA award for Best Feature Length Documentary. The award will be announced on the evening of 30 January 2014 in Sydney.