Criminal Courts : Criminal cases review commission

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The need for a review body

  • large number of miscarriages of justice led to the demand for a review body.
  • Home Secretary had the power to review cases.
  • Birmingham Six + Judith Ward - people feeling the Home Secretary was not independent of goverment.

Runciman Commission

  • Recommended that an independent review body should be set up.
  • Recommendation implemented by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 which set up the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
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Powers of the Commission

  • Power to investigate possible misscarriages of justice and to refer the cases back to the courts.

In order for the Commission to be abke to refer a case there must normally have already been appealed to the Court of Appeal.

  • The commission has the discretion to refer a case where 'there are exceptional circumstances'.
  • The Court of Appeal may direct the Commission to investigate and report to the court on any matters which comes before it in an appeal if it feels an investigation is likely to help the court resolve the appeal.
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Members of the Commission

  • Appointed by the Queen.
  • Atleast two-thirds have relevant experience of the criminak justice system.
  • 60 support staff
  • Most of the reinvestigation work is done by the police - Felt as unsatisfactory as it does not really make such a reinvestigation independent.
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Work of the Commission

  • Took over the investigating of miscarriages of justice at the beginning of April 1997.
  • main bulk of cases it investigates are brought to its attention by defendents themselves ojr by defendant's families.
  • Though some cases have been referred by the Court of Appeal and others have identified by the Commission itself.
  • First cases it investigated were alleged miscarriages of justice from over 40 years ago.

Derek Bentley

  • Bentley was hanged for muder in 1953, while his co-defendant, Craig, who actually fired the fatak shot was not hanged due to his youth.
  • There have been many attempts to have the case reopended but it was not until the Criminal Cases Review Commission took over the investigatiin that the case wa referred back to the Court of Appeal.
  • July 1998 the Court of Appeal held that the summing-up of the judge at the triak had not been fair and it quashed the conviction.
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Referrals to the Court of Appeal

  • 2012 the Criminak Cases Review Commission had received over 15,000 applications.
  • Commission had referred 594 cases to the Court of Appeal - 461 of these had been heard and the convictions quashed in 325 cases.
  • Cases attracted a lot of publicity :

Sally Clark

  • In 2003 has her conviction for murdering her two babies quashed after the scientific evidence was shown to be flawed.

Sion Jenkins

  • 2004 conviction for the murder of his foster daughter was quashed, also because of flawed scientific evidence.

Sam Hallam

  • 2012 the conviction for murder was quashed
  • 17 when convicted had always insisted that he was not at the scene of murder.
  • The Commission's review of the evidence showed he was not present at the attack.
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