Since the high profile exoneration of Teina Pora (see here…) and lots of calls for reforms in New Zealand, including a body to look at miscarriages of justice, the newly created New Zealand Public Interest Project (NZPIP) has now started work. A charitable organisation, it plans to look into cases as well as wider concerns about the operation of the NZ criminal justice system. The body already has a queue of high profile cases in which a prisoner is claiming innocence. While good news…. it is not a government backed (or funded) body… which should have been the response to growing concerns about the justice system in New Zealand. One hopes that if they can bring attention, and overturn, further miscarriages of justice, the government will take the issue seriously and set up a funded body. Read more here….
Australia has seen another high-profile wrongful conviction hit the headlines this week with the release on bail of Henry Keogh after serving 19 years in prison for the apparent murder of his fiancee in 1994. Keogh had always maintained his innocence, claiming a litany of errors during the autopsy, resulting in the bizarre conclusion that he had drowned his fiancee in the bath by lifting her legs over her head. The motive was apparently financial, with his fiancee having several life insurance policies. The case has been back and forth to the South Australian courts and Governors over the years until the South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal finally ordered a retrial on Monday, permitted Keogh to be free until such time the DPP decides to bring another prosecution. Keogh, aged 59, was only permitted a further appeal to the courts after a change in South Australian legislation last year, allowing appeals on ‘new and fresh compelling evidence’. Read more on the news here….
Henry Keogh released on bail after 20 years in jail on Anna-Jane Cheney murder conviction
and a journalist who assisted with the case for years, Bob Mole, has a page dedicated to Henry Keogh’s case here….
Networked Knowledge: The Henry Keogh Homepage
It is starting to feel in the UK like ‘another day, another story of police lies’. In what feels like just a few months we have had media coverage of (to mention just a few) scandals where, for example, police have been caught falsifying reports of an altercation that they ‘witnessed’ when they were not present (see Plebgate scandal...). We have the ongoing revelations over police lies and their coercion of others to lie in the Hillsborough disaster cover-up (see Hillsborough inquiry...). It is suspected that these tactics were honed during the Miner’s Strike when striking miners were ‘fitted up’ (see Miners Strike….). Such tactics clearly have continued for years with many undercover police officers lies leading to convictions (see undercover policing....) as well as the recent revelation that high profile victim Stephen Lawrence’s family were put under police surveillance during the inquiries into the police failures after Stephen’s murder (to try and discredit the family and their campaign for justice). This all comes on top of the almost run-of-the-mill stories of police ‘collusion’ with one another after fatal police shootings, with the introduction of body-worn cameras to enable the police to be ‘more transparent’ about fatal shootings. In fact, the introduction of police body-worn cameras has been posited as a boon for police as it will cut down on false allegations from the public. However, is it perhaps more likely that police body-worn cameras may serve to make the police more honest? Will they be able to lie with camera footage of the real altercation readily available?
In Omagh, Northern Ireland, the introduction of CCTV cameras in the town has led to the uncovering of police lies leading to miscarriages of justice – with solicitors claiming that miscarriages may be ‘endemic': increasingly, CCTC footage is being shown to demonstrate that the police account of events is unreliable – even untrue (see story here…) Of course this has not been a good week either for police south of the border in Ireland, having been found to have been illicitly tape recording phone calls made to police stations (see here…). The other side of the world, in New Zealand, they are calling police lies and false evidence which have led to convictions as ‘failings’ and ‘sloppy police work’ (see here…Police failures led to wrongful conviction).
We have all known for years that there are ‘rotten apples’ and that wrongful convictions have often had police misrepresentations, if not outright corruption and lying, at their heart. However, the question must surely now be asked: is lying among the police an endemic international problem? If so, what can be done about it? These questions are already beginning to be murmured in corners of the UK, I think it is now time to get such questions out in the open. These are challenging times for the police, and if we are not to lose trust in them completely, I believe some hard questions must be asked and answers demanded.
- The unintended consequences of compensating the exonerated
- Canada’s system for reviewing alleged wrongful convictions “failing miserably”
- West Virginia University Law Innocence Project pushes interrogation recording bill
- What does a record number of U.S. exonerations in 2013 tell us?
- ESPN video on the wrongful accusation against Richard Jewel for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing
- Ex-cop exonerated after 20 years in prison awarded $9 million
- Mexican lawyers turned filmmakers win civil suit against them brought by family of victim in wrongful conviction case they exposed through the documentary Presumed Guilty
- Planned changes in UK’s compensation laws for exonerees will make it nearly impossible to obtain compensation after wrongful conviction
- New Zealand Innocence Project re-ignites debate about the need for a wrongful convictions commission
- Idaho Innocence Project client Sarah Pearce may soon be released—settlement discussions ongoing
In light of this week’s decision at the Privy Council to overturn the murder conviction of New Zealand citizen Mark Lundy (see earlier post here….), ongoing debate surrounding the need for an independent review commission, along the lines of the UK’s Criminal Cases Review Commissions, has again been sparked. An earlier post here…. detailed how New Zealand authorities have long been contemplating the creation of a post-appeal review body, but they have so far resisted calls. See an interesting news piece here….
The Privy Council, sitting in London, has heard an appeal from Mark Lundy, a New Zealand resident serving a 20 year life sentence for murdering his wife and daughter. Mark Lundy has already served over 12 years in prison for the murder that he has always maintained he did not commit. The court has overturned the conviction and instructed the authorities in New Zealand to give Mr Lundy a new trial as soon as possible. Mr Lundy turned to the Privy Council after losing all appeal avenues in New Zealand. His appeal turns upon new ‘credible’ expert evidence that casts serious doubt over the original evidence used at trial, of stomach contents analysis, in order to determine the time of death of the victims. Mr Lundy has always had an alibi for when he claims the murders must have taken place, but the stomach content analysis put the deaths at a time when he could have committed the murders. If this evidence is proved flawed, then the whole case is thrown into doubt.
Read more here:
A retired New Zealand judge is arguing, 10 years after conducting an inquiry into miscarriages of justice in New Zealand, that the country is still in dire need of an independent body to investigate cases. This article outlines his conclusions then, and now, and the political concerns surrounding the establishment of such a body.
Read more here: A decade after he recommended New Zealand set up an independent commission to investigate claims of miscarriages of justice, Sir Thomas Thorp says the case is even stronger.
At long last, the University of Cincinnati Law Review symposium issue stemming from the 2011 International Innocence Conference in Cincinnati is finally in print. The edition contains articles discussing and summarizing the causes and extent of wrongful conviction in countries across the globe. You can find the entire volume here. Congrats to all involved on completing this important work.
Posted in Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Eastern Europe, Inquisitional and adversarial systems of justice, Latin America, Middle East, North America, Scholarship, United Kingdom, Western Europe
New Zealand media are again focussing attention on the case of Teina Pora (read about his case here) , a man convicted 21 years ago of a rape and murder that he maintains he did not commit. Pora is now awaiting a pardon, having lost all his appeals and reached the end of the line. Many groups including politicians and police support his claims of innocence. However, the Premier of New Zealand (John Key) is rejecting calls for the government to set up an inquiry into the conviction. Instead, the case may (if refused a pardon) have to go to the Privy Council in London.
Read more here: Key, Collins shy off action on Pora case.
The case is attracting sufficient criticism that it is heightening calls for a criminal case review body specifically created to look at potential miscarriages of justice. Commentators are looking to renew previous calls in New Zealand to set up a review bodysimilar to the CCRC in the UK. With Pora’s case featuring so heavily in the news, the calls may get greater political and public support. Read more here: Criminal conviction review system long overdue
Meanwhile, similar calls are being made just across the Tasman Seain Tasmania (a state of Australia). They too are demanding new appeal rights for those alleging a miscarriage of justice. Similar to many of the States in Australia, once you have your appeal in Tasmania,
you cannot have a subsequent one, even if new evidence is produced. Civil Liberties Australia are now calling for greater appeal rights in Tasmania, a call that could similarly be made all across Australia. Read more here: Calls mount for retrial ruling
A veteran reporter in Western Australia, Bret Christian, has written a new book entitled ‘Presumed Guilty’. In promoting the book, he has given an interesting radio interview where he calls for the abolition of juries. He claims that having covered many miscarriages of justice, this may prevent further occurring. You can listen to the interview here….
More details on the book are available here: