The Criminal Cases Review Commission of England and Wales (Scotland has their own Commission) has been the subject of a recent inquiry by the UK Parliament’s Select Justice Committee (see here). The inquiry received 47 written submissions and heard oral evidence from a select group of experts, lawyers and campaigners on miscarriages of justice. The Committee today released it’s highly critical report that can be read here…. It made a series of recommendations including increased funding from government, but also that the CCRC ‘relax’ it’s narrow interpretation of the ‘real possibility’ test when referring cases back to the Court of Appeal. There have been media reports highlighting the critical tone of the report:
Miscarriage of justice review body is dismissed as the Court of Appeal’s ‘lap dog’ in hard-hitting report
The report concluded:
19. We conclude that the CCRC is performing its functions reasonably well, and we have identified areas for improvement, but we were struck by the disparity between what critics believe it to be doing and what it claims that it is doing. At times there was complete disagreement, even on objective and factual matters. This indicates that at the very least the CCRC has a problem with public perception, including with the awareness of applicants as to what it can do for them and of all stakeholders, including applicants, their representatives, and others, as to how it operates. The CCRC will never convince its most vociferous detractors, but it could be doing more to ensure that its work and processes are well understood. (Paragraph 54)
20. The level of successful referrals from the CCRC shows that it remains as necessary a body now as when it was set up. We received very little evidence advocating its abolition, and even its strongest critics have said that they simply want it to improve. The existence of the CCRC is not enough in and of itself; it must be given the resources and powers it requires to perform its job effectively. The fundamental constitutional principle on which our criminal justice system rests and which the Commission exists to uphold is that the guilty are convicted and the innocent go free. (Paragraph 55)
Reblogged this on FORENSICS in FOCUS @ CSIDDS | News and Trends and commented:
Disgruntled legal thinkers wrangling about interpretations and policies are not limited to the US. Some make things SO complicated when their fiefdoms are at stake.
Reblogged this on Wrongly Convicted Group Website and commented:
A paragraph that caught my eye:
4. We are concerned that there may be some miscarriages of justice which are going uncorrected because of the difficulty the CCRC faces in getting some such cases past the threshold of ‘real possibility’, as a result of the Court of Appeal’s approach. While it is important that the jury system is not undermined, properly-directed juries which have seen all of the evidence may occasionally make incorrect decisions.