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Old 4th March 2019, 01:35 PM   #1
Nessie
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The causes of miscarriages of justice.

An interesting Freedom of Information response from the Criminal Cases Review Commission for England and Wales, where the reason why convictions were quashed is given;

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/reque...ges_of_justice

"...the following comes from an analysis of the cases of the 78 individuals whose convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal between 1st April 2006 and 31st March 2009 following referral by the Commission....They are broken down here according to the principal reason for the Commission’s referral:

• New Expert (non- medical) evidence: 7 (covering a range if issues from DNA to false confessions and psychiatric reports).

• Discredited expert witness: 3 (this is a single case with three co-defendants).

• New medical evidence: 3.

• Unreliable witness / miscellaneous new witness: 11 (basically where new information about a witness, often but not always the complainant, or new witness testimony has been obtained to undermine the safety of the conviction.)

• Non-disclosure of material to the defence -13 (the accidental or deliberate non-disclosure, by prosecuting or investigating authority, of material which might have assisted the defence or undermined the prosecution and which the disclosure rules say the defence should have had access to).

• Misconduct by police or other authorities (such as HM Customs and Excise) – 15 (15 individuals involved in six actual cases)

• Judicial / process failure: 10 (issues such as errors in summing up, jury directions, not making alternative counts available for the jury to consider – this includes two cases involving a ruling by the House of Lords to clarify a point of law about causation in manslaughter conviction)

• One case was referred on grounds of defence incompetence.

• One was a magistrates’ court case related to planning law."

If you add together new evidence and non disclosed evidence, then the most common cause of a miscarriage of justice is the police failing to properly investigate and/or disclose all the evidence.

I have just finished reading this book about a teacher falsely accused of sex offences. The police were not at all interested in the exculpatory evidence and ignored everything that pointed to the teacher's innocence.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/p...warr-cbjv6fjgx

There should be more research into the causes of miscarriages of justice and action taken to rectify them.
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Old 4th March 2019, 05:33 PM   #2
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Convicting the Innocent

Brendan Garrett's book Convicting the Innocent also tabulates the reasons for miscarriages of justice, although his book is limited to the United States IIRC.
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Old 4th March 2019, 05:42 PM   #3
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I don't think anyone would claim that the criminal justice system is perfect. But it is the best we've been able to come up with so far.
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Old 4th March 2019, 05:45 PM   #4
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I'm not sure all of the examples in the OP are actual miscarriages of justice.

Some of them at least appear to be a question of new information.

To me, a miscarriage would be trusted agents betraying our trust to get unjust outcomes. Agents doing the best they can with the information available at the time are being just.
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Old 6th March 2019, 12:09 PM   #5
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It depends on how the new information came to light

A great deal stands or falls with exactly what one means by new information. There are plenty of examples of the police or prosecution not disclosing exculpatory information. There are also examples of judges who barred exculpatory information from the trial for reasons that are open to question. Offhand, I cannot think of any wrongful conviction that did not have some sort of incompetence. In some instances (Patricia Stallings conviction comes to mind) the problem was in the laboratories that did the testing, as opposed to the police or prosecution.
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Old 6th March 2019, 03:30 PM   #6
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Books.

There are two new excellent books on exactly this topic:

Koen, W. J., & Bowers, C. M. (Eds.), (2017). Forensic Science Reform. Protecting the Innocent. Amsterdam: Academic Press.

Koen, W. J., & Bowers, C. M. (Eds.), (2018). Psychology and Sociology of Wrongful Convictions. Same publisher.
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Old 9th March 2019, 03:41 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm not sure all of the examples in the OP are actual miscarriages of justice.

Some of them at least appear to be a question of new information.

To me, a miscarriage would be trusted agents betraying our trust to get unjust outcomes. Agents doing the best they can with the information available at the time are being just.
MOJ refers to someone being found guilty when they were innocent. There can be genuine accidental MOJs as well as malicious whereby, for example an alleged victim is lying or the police deliberately hide or destroy key evidence.
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Old 9th March 2019, 06:29 AM   #8
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I don't think it's necessarily a miscarriage of justice for an innocent person to be found guilty.
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Old 9th March 2019, 08:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think it's necessarily a miscarriage of justice for an innocent person to be found guilty.
The list is from instances where an innocent person was found guilty and subsequently acquitted, and the major cause of that happening.
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Old 29th April 2019, 12:23 PM   #10
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Headline news today, rape (and other victims of crime) as to be asked to consent to having their mobile phones searched by the police for evidence and if they refuse to consent, that could result in the ending of investigations;

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48096239

This has come about because of the collapse of numerous rape investigations when exculpatory evidence has been found on accuser's phones, such as further requests for sex and admissions an accusation was false in text messages.

Victim's groups are up in arms, but I side with the need to examine phones as it has helped to keep innocent people from being convicted.
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Old 2nd May 2019, 06:54 PM   #11
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I understand why it can't be, especially in 'he-said-she-said' cases*...

...but there are times when it seems terribly unjust that there are such poor penalties for false claims of sexual assault or child abuse.

(i.e. lives are destroyed by the accusation, but the accuser is usually excused.)

*In case this isn't generally understood, it's because these cases are terribly hard to prove, and the failure of a case to prove guilt isn't the same as a false accusation.
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Old 3rd May 2019, 04:24 AM   #12
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Yes, proving someone lied about abuse, as opposed made a mistake or as has been claimed, were pressured by the police to claim abuse, is difficult.

I know someone very well, who was accused of historical sexual abuse, but thankfully the investigating police made enquiries to establish that the accuser was a habitual liar and had made some factual errors about time and places that a real accuser would not have made. So, he was not charged.

Others, such as Simon Warr a teacher who wrote about his experience in the book "Presumed Guilty: A teacher's solitary battle to clear his name", were not so lucky. There the police ignored evidence which cast huge doubts on the accuser's claims, but they ploughed on irrespective.
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Old 3rd May 2019, 04:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
Yes, proving someone lied about abuse, as opposed made a mistake or as has been claimed, were pressured by the police to claim abuse, is difficult.

I know someone very well, who was accused of historical sexual abuse, but thankfully the investigating police made enquiries to establish that the accuser was a habitual liar and had made some factual errors about time and places that a real accuser would not have made. So, he was not charged.

Others, such as Simon Warr a teacher who wrote about his experience in the book "Presumed Guilty: A teacher's solitary battle to clear his name", were not so lucky. There the police ignored evidence which cast huge doubts on the accuser's claims, but they ploughed on irrespective.
This thread on IA is an interesting one to check, Charlie Wilkes smelled a rat from the outset....

http://www.injusticeanywhereforum.co...p?f=123&t=3316
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Old 4th May 2019, 09:06 AM   #14
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Authors and their affiliations

Originally Posted by thines View Post
There are two new excellent books on exactly this topic:

Koen, W. J., & Bowers, C. M. (Eds.), (2017). Forensic Science Reform. Protecting the Innocent. Amsterdam: Academic Press.

Koen, W. J., & Bowers, C. M. (Eds.), (2018). Psychology and Sociology of Wrongful Convictions. Same publisher.
With respect to the former book, here is a list of the authors and chapters.
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Old 25th May 2019, 02:38 PM   #15
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Luke Mitchell and the murder of Jodi Jones

The Luke Mitchell case from Scotland is a high-profile case that illustrates one major problem: police getting witnesses to change their testimony. In this instance a major plank against Mr. Mitchell was that he helped to locate the body; however, the witnesses changed their testimony one month after the fact. Some accounts suggest that it was his dog that first gave an indication of where the body of Jodi Jones was.

This case illustrates a second problem, which is that obviously exculpatory evidence is dismissed. In this case the semen of another man was found on Ms. Jones's clothing. IIUC this man was the boyfriend of Janine Jones, Jodi's sister. From reading I have done elsewhere, there are at least two male DNA profiles, neither of which is Mr. Mitchell's.

There seems to be interest in this case from at least one organization. "After doubts that Mitchell was not the perpetrator of the crime, she began to investigate and became convinced the schoolboy had suffered a miscarriage of justice. She gained a PHD in criminal justice and has become a campaigner for those wrongfully convicted and currently works with the charity, the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation." link2

"As well as pursuing a new appeal in Scotland, Mitchell's defence team has lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about his pre-arrest interview, which, in accordance with Scottish law, was conducted without a solicitor present. Despite denying last year's appeal, the three judges said some of the police questioning of Mitchell was 'outrageous'." link3 Mr. Mitchell was fourteen at the time of the murder.

This case illustrates so many themes one sees in wrongful convictions that it might deserve its own thread.
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Last edited by Chris_Halkides; 25th May 2019 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 25th May 2019, 10:52 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Chris_Halkides View Post
The Luke Mitchell case from Scotland is a high-profile case that illustrates one major problem: police getting witnesses to change their testimony. In this instance a major plank against Mr. Mitchell was that he helped to locate the body; however, the witnesses changed their testimony one month after the fact. Some accounts suggest that it was his dog that first gave an indication of where the body of Jodi Jones was.

This case illustrates a second problem, which is that obviously exculpatory evidence is dismissed. In this case the semen of another man was found on Ms. Jones's clothing. IIUC this man was the boyfriend of Janine Jones, Jodi's sister. From reading I have done elsewhere, there are at least two male DNA profiles, neither of which is Mr. Mitchell's.

There seems to be interest in this case from at least one organization. "After doubts that Mitchell was not the perpetrator of the crime, she began to investigate and became convinced the schoolboy had suffered a miscarriage of justice. She gained a PHD in criminal justice and has become a campaigner for those wrongfully convicted and currently works with the charity, the Miscarriages of Justice Organisation." link2

"As well as pursuing a new appeal in Scotland, Mitchell's defence team has lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) about his pre-arrest interview, which, in accordance with Scottish law, was conducted without a solicitor present. Despite denying last year's appeal, the three judges said some of the police questioning of Mitchell was 'outrageous'." link3 Mr. Mitchell was fourteen at the time of the murder.

This case illustrates so many themes one sees in wrongful convictions that it might deserve its own thread.
Yes, New Zealand needs to pay close attention to see how the SCCRC denies this young man justice in the most blatant miscarriage.
Our proposal uses SCCRC as a model. This ain't good advertising. Maybe our Scottish friends here can throw more light.
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Old 29th May 2019, 06:44 AM   #17
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I've had a look at that case, and the personalities involved are all too familiar. (Remember the Lockerbie trial was only a few years before this. The prosecutor named was also a prosecutor in the Lockerbie trial.)

It's a cross between Damian Echols and Paul Esslemont. Unless there's something they're not telling us, I don't see how you can get a BRD conviction on that evidence.

You know, I read somewhere that if Donald Findlay is well known as a defender of the actually guilty. I wonder if nobody told the family?
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Old 3rd June 2019, 01:56 PM   #18
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Here is a recently posted interview with his mother Corinne to cast light on how the miscarriage occurred.
Marilyn Manson poster features lol.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6ys...ature=youtu.be
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Old 3rd June 2019, 04:04 PM   #19
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Thanks, Samson, that was interesting. I don't reckon anything on polygraphs, but it's as the mother said. The people who read the broadsheets think Luke is innocent, the people who read the tabloids think he's guilty. I haven't been following the case but I did read the broadsheets back then - the Scottish ones, even though I was living in England - and I knew there were huge doubts about the conviction right from the start.

From what the mother says, reading between the lines, I think the person who confessed, the person who was seen at the crime scene, is a family member of Jodie's, and the family are either shielding him or are so much in denial that they cling to the idea of Luke's guilt because they can't cope with the alternative.

There's also a subtext of possible corruption in the investigation and indeed the legal process. I wouldn't discount that on first principles, although I don't know any of the details. In a country of only 5 million people a lot of people know a lot of other people, if you get my meaning. It ain't six degrees of separation, it's probably about three for most people. The thing about the solicitor turning the case down is a bit unsettling.

Corinne is being cagey with names, presumably because she doesn't want to be hit with a defamation case. In her situation I'd seriously think about naming the names and daring them to do it, but possibly she simply cannot risk the potential costs.

I don't know if the case has ever been in front of the SCCRC, but really, if not why not?
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Old 3rd June 2019, 04:27 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I don't think anyone would claim that the criminal justice system is perfect. But it is the best we've been able to come up with so far.
But if it makes a mistake it should pay for that mistake. And, more importantly, if it can be shown any police hid or avoided including exculpatory evidence those police involved should get double the time the claimed criminal got and the claimed criminal payment of say 20,000 pounds per year of time in jail or, if the claimant was making more than that then double his/her salary per year for the time involved in incarceration and be required to be given back his/her job with retraining/certification if needed for that job. No person should ever be wrongly jailed.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 04:31 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think it's necessarily a miscarriage of justice for an innocent person to be found guilty.
I do and have no idea why you wouldn't and hope you or anyone else ever happens du to it
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Old 3rd June 2019, 04:31 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
No person should ever be wrongly jailed.
I agree and disagree.

Yes, no person should be wrongly jailed.

But.

No system is perfect. The moment you decide to start jailing people, you must accept that sooner or later you will jail the wrong person. Even if you do the best you can to be ethical and accurate, you will still make mistakes.

How severely should you be punished, for trying to do the right thing, imperfectly?
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Old 3rd June 2019, 04:34 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
I do and have no idea why you wouldn't and hope you or anyone else ever happens du to it
No system is perfect. Sooner or later, you're going to do everything right, and still get it wrong. If you're not ready to accept that, then I don't think you're ready to have an opinion on crime and punishment.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 05:45 PM   #24
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I think the question of investigating a suspect's alibi is an important one. Whose job is it to do that?

I was talking to someone who thinks David Gilroy might be innocent, and he was telling me Gilroy's own story about what he was doing during the unexplained time on his journey (about 3 hours 20 minutes) during which the police think he was hiding the body of his victim. It sounds very much like the dog ate my homework to me, but I asked if there was any proof of this story. No, came the answer, because nobody investigated it. Whose job is that anyway? The police repeatedly ask if any member of the public saw a silver car somewhere along the A83 road, but they've never asked if any member of the public saw a silver car parked at the side of the A85 road possibly jacked up and with someone looking underneath it. Should they be asking that?

Or what about Stefan Kiszko? He had an alibi which was eventually confirmed - after he'd been in jail for about 18 years. The police sneered at him and didn't follow up what he told them.

I don't for a moment believe that David Gilroy spent over three hours staring at damage to his car which he couldn't possibly do anything about, then just got back in it and drove 100 miles without any apparent difficulty. But on the other hand Stefan Kiszko was proved to have been visiting his father's grave at the time of the murder he was convicted of. How should the police handle these situations? Is it fair to put out multiple calls to the public for evidence to support your own theory about the case but never to ask for evidence that might show the suspect's alibi is actually true?
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Old 3rd June 2019, 06:38 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Thanks, Samson, that was interesting. I don't reckon anything on polygraphs, but it's as the mother said. The people who read the broadsheets think Luke is innocent, the people who read the tabloids think he's guilty. I haven't been following the case but I did read the broadsheets back then - the Scottish ones, even though I was living in England - and I knew there were huge doubts about the conviction right from the start.

From what the mother says, reading between the lines, I think the person who confessed, the person who was seen at the crime scene, is a family member of Jodie's, and the family are either shielding him or are so much in denial that they cling to the idea of Luke's guilt because they can't cope with the alternative.

There's also a subtext of possible corruption in the investigation and indeed the legal process. I wouldn't discount that on first principles, although I don't know any of the details. In a country of only 5 million people a lot of people know a lot of other people, if you get my meaning. It ain't six degrees of separation, it's probably about three for most people. The thing about the solicitor turning the case down is a bit unsettling.

Corinne is being cagey with names, presumably because she doesn't want to be hit with a defamation case. In her situation I'd seriously think about naming the names and daring them to do it, but possibly she simply cannot risk the potential costs.

I don't know if the case has ever been in front of the SCCRC, but really, if not why not?
Well, yes.

"Dr Sandra Lean, who highlighted his case in her book No Smoke! The Shocking Truth About British Justice, led the battle against Mitchell’s life sentence alongside his mother, Corinne.

Her withdrawal follows a ruling by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which found there were no grounds to challenge the guilty verdict.

Following the report’s publication, Dr Lean admitted it was a “shattering blow” to the long-running campaign to clear 25-year-old Mitchell’s name, but said he would “not give up his fight”.

Sources said Mrs Mitchell had become unhappy with Dr Lean’s involvement in the wake of the SCCRC ruling, which followed two years of investigation by Scotland’s official justice watchdog.

Dr Lean would not comment on any factors behind her departure, adding the “reasons would remain private as a matter of respect”.Dr Sandra Lean, who highlighted his case in her book No Smoke! The Shocking Truth About British Justice, led the battle against Mitchell’s life sentence alongside his mother, Corinne.

Her withdrawal follows a ruling by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC), which found there were no grounds to challenge the guilty verdict.

Following the report’s publication, Dr Lean admitted it was a “shattering blow” to the long-running campaign to clear 25-year-old Mitchell’s name, but said he would “not give up his fight”.

Sources said Mrs Mitchell had become unhappy with Dr Lean’s involvement in the wake of the SCCRC ruling, which followed two years of investigation by Scotland’s official justice watchdog.

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.c...hell-1-3478153
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Old 3rd June 2019, 07:01 PM   #26
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There's something extremely strange about that case. It seems dodgy as hell to me, but there has to be some reason for all the smoke that's being blown. I don't claim to be at all familiar with the detail though.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 07:37 PM   #27
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Mods might look at Chris's suggestion and split this Luke Mitchell case to its own thread.
It really is a shocker. For Errors.
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Old 4th June 2019, 01:36 AM   #28
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We could always just start a new thread if we want to discuss it in more detail. There's no reason the posts in this thread can't stay here.
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Old 4th June 2019, 02:48 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
We could always just start a new thread if we want to discuss it in more detail. There's no reason the posts in this thread can't stay here.
Yes better idea.
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Old 4th June 2019, 09:15 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I agree and disagree.

Yes, no person should be wrongly jailed.

But.

No system is perfect. The moment you decide to start jailing people, you must accept that sooner or later you will jail the wrong person. Even if you do the best you can to be ethical and accurate, you will still make mistakes.

How severely should you be punished, for trying to do the right thing, imperfectly?
Double the punishment the innocent person got - for a start.
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Old 5th June 2019, 07:24 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Double the punishment the innocent person got - for a start.
I think that would have profoundly chilling effect on justice. Ideal happiness is not approached by draconian punishments.
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Old 6th June 2019, 03:35 PM   #32
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Old Today, 01:45 AM   #33
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A searchable database on miscarriages of justice in the UK since 1970.

https://evidencebasedjustice.exeter....verview-graph/

Causes -

Official misconduct (121) 34.97%
Witness evidence from non-complainant (95) 27.46%
Confession (91) 26.3%
False or misleading forensic evidence (75) 21.68%
Inadequate disclosure (73) 21.1%
Witness testimony from complainant (48) 13.87%

Types of case -

Murder (145) 41.91%
Sexual offences (70) 20.23%
Robbery / burglary (61) 17.63%
Other (57) 16.47%
Manslaughter / non-fatal offence against the person (35) 10.12%
Drugs offences (14) 4.05%

Location -

England & Wales (268) 77.46%
Northern Ireland (47) 13.58%
Scotland (31) 8.96%

Gender -

M (308) 89.02%
F (34) 9.83%
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Old Today, 01:48 AM   #34
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With a particular interest in Scotland, what stands out to me is that there have been 16 murder MOJs and official misconduct drops from the most likely cause to third, after witness failures and issues with the forensic evidence. In E&W and NI, official misconduct is the most common cause of a MOJ. Are Scottish police just more honest, or is there better checks of the police?
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Old Today, 05:32 AM   #35
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Or are they just getting away with it?
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Old Today, 05:43 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
MOJ refers to someone being found guilty when they were innocent. There can be genuine accidental MOJs as well as malicious whereby, for example an alleged victim is lying or the police deliberately hide or destroy key evidence.
Not in all the cases you listed - some of those people might have been guilty of what they are accused of but the process used to determine guilt was improper in some way.


(ETA: didn’t notice thread necromancy.)
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Last edited by Darat; Today at 05:44 AM.
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Old Today, 05:46 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Nessie View Post
With a particular interest in Scotland, what stands out to me is that there have been 16 murder MOJs and official misconduct drops from the most likely cause to third, after witness failures and issues with the forensic evidence. In E&W and NI, official misconduct is the most common cause of a MOJ. Are Scottish police just more honest, or is there better checks of the police?
Are the differences “statistically” significant?
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Old Today, 05:48 AM   #38
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Nessie - have you looked at when they happened? Was thinking you might be able to tease out if certain changes have had an effect (either way)?
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Old Today, 08:31 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Are the differences “statistically” significant?
I don't know for sure. The data goes back to 1970. It would need finding out how many cases have been reported by the police and then what percentage of those are MOJs?

A simpler calculation is that Scotland is 8% of the UK population and 8.96% of the MOJs. I think that NI, which is 2.8% of the population and 13.58% of MOJs is statistically significant.

Why are there proportionately more MOJs in NI and those MOJs are far more likely to be attributed to police misconduct? The answer, since the statistics go back to 1970, is the first 20 years of The Troubles. In 1991 there are 7 cases primarily to do with one incident regarding the false imprisonment (abduction) of an informant for 2 days. After that, MOJs have not been so common. If MOJs in NI had always been at the 0, 1 or 2 a year they have been since the early 1990s, then NI would not be statistically significant.
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Old Today, 08:39 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Nessie - have you looked at when they happened? Was thinking you might be able to tease out if certain changes have had an effect (either way)?
Just as NI had a notable drop in MOJs after the start of the 1990s, E&W has had a notable drop since 2008. Scotland has got worse, with only 2 in the 1970s, 7 in the 1980s, 6 in the 1990s, 11 in the 2000s and 5 in the period 2010 to 2014, but in no year has there been more than 2.
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