Saturday, October 04, 2008

Globe and Mail Article on UK Review System for Wrongful Convictions

Yesterday, the Globe and Mail published an article by justice correspondent Kirk Makin that looked at the Criminal Cases Review Commission in the United Kingdom.

The Commission is an independent public agency that has the power to investigate possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It can decide to refer convictions or criminal sentences to courts of appeal for review when the facts or evidence warrant.

Over the last 10 years, it has referred roughly 4% of the cases examined by its team of more than one hundred independent investigators and case managers to appeal courts for review because it believed there was a real possibility of a wrongful conviction.

Makin writes that half a dozen Canadian commissions of inquiry into wrongful convictions going back to the late 1980s have recommended that Canada create such an independent commission.

The latest commission of inquiry to do so was the Goudge Commission whose report was published earlier this week. It looked into the activities of a renegade Ontario pathologist whose incompetent work led to a number of miscarriages of justice (see the Library Boy posts of October 1, 2008 - Goudge Commission Report On Rogue Pathologist Who Sent Innocents To Jail - and October 2, 2008 - Ontario Government Responds to Goudge Report on Rogue Pathologist).

In Canada, at the federal level, there is a unit within Justice Canada that looks into allegations of wrongful conviction called the Criminal Convictions Review Group. The Group has a staff of 6 lawyers. The decision to refer any case to courts of appeal for review is in the hands of the Minister of Justice.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:53 pm


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