Miscarriage of justice is defined as the wrongful convictions of people due to the control of the police department and the prosecution during the investigation or pre trial when the individual could be proven innocent. This kind of injustice has been experienced throughout the world a good example is Australia in cases such as the Andrew mallard conviction, Lindy chamberlain Creighton conviction in 1982, Farah Jama conviction in 2008 and Terry Irving conviction in 1993. There are many factors that contribute to wrongful convictions in areas such as Australia. These factors are false confessions, eyewitness identification and testimony, tunnel vision, in custody informers, DNA evidence and forensic evidence. This kind of injustices has made people in Australia question whether the justice system works (McCartney 2012).
Factors that contribute to miscarriage of justice
This is the scientific technique used by the forensic scientist to determine whether the evidence brought forward implicates the suspects. This allows a suspect to either be convicted or released. This type of evidence can be said to be almost 100 percent accurate, therefore, it confirms ones guilt or innocence. In some instances, DNA evidence has ended up in convicting people who are innocent. There are many cases where wrongful conviction of individuals has occurred in Australia due to this issue. One of the most notable examples is the wrongful conviction of Farah Abdulkadir Jama. In 2006, he was claimed to have raped an unconscious woman in a Doncaster nightclub toilet (Hagan 2009). DNA evidence condemned him and was convicted for six good years by judges Paul Lacava. When the victim was questioned about whether she saw anything, her only answer was that she did not recall any black man in the club and that her memory was a bit foggy on the events that occurred that night.
According to the DNA sample that was taken it proved that Farah was indeed in the club and attacked her. The judge was very harsh with the words he used to describe the case that the case was offensive and should not be tolerated in the society. At the beginning of 2009, a solicitor named Kimani Boden took it upon himself to take the case without charge or pro Bono. He called upon the office of prosecuting to test the DNA again. After the DNA testing the evidence shows that the DNA sample may have been contaminated therefore, it was not reliable.
This caused Farah Jama's lawyer to file for bail pending appeal case. An acquittal was filed in which it was later accepted thus prompted him to be released. According to sonnet, he believes that the DNA sample was contaminated because the officer who took his swab was the same one who had taken a swab from him earlier in a previous case. This case brought about concern about the justice system when it comes to DNA evidence. In order to curb this issue it is important to expand the DNA testing and not to fully rely on one test.
Forensic evidence and expert testimony
Expert witnesses have become a major issue when it comes to the criminal justice system. It is a fact that the expert witnesses are called when it comes to trials because of their knowledge about evidence. Forensic evidence is the evidence that is used in courts that came about because of scientific methods good examples are DNA tests, the ballistics and blood samples. There have been a number of cases in Australia with this mistake and a good example is the Lindy Chamberlain conviction. Lindy was convicted in 1982 for murdering her daughter Azaria, which became one of Australians most talked about cases of all times. At the end of the case, she was sentenced to life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. The major factor that caused her to be sentenced or found guilty was the incriminating forensic evidence.
It was believed she slashed her daughter's throat and ended up claiming that a dingo took her. She ended up spending three years imprison but due to new evidence found she was released in 1985. This new evidence came when David Brett fell and died on Ayers rock, which he was climbing (Moles & Bibi 2010). The place that he landed they found the matinee jacket that her baby was wearing when she was carried away by the dingo. Due to this conviction even when she was released no one believed she was innocent therefore, it led to her being rebuked and spat on by people over the years. After many years of struggling for the truth to come out in 2012, the coroner made it official that baby Azaria was killed by a dingo. This enabled Lindy and her family finally to be able to get the death certificate of their child.
False confession is mostly experienced when the police officers use their knowledge of psychology to interrogate individuals. This will definitely lead to individuals agreeing that they committed that particular crime while they did not and it could cause the individual actually to believe that they did commit that crime. One of the most notable cases with this issue is the Andrew mallard case where he confessed to have killed the jeweler Pamela Lawrence at her shop in the Mosman Park in 23 may 1994. This confession came after hours of interrogation by the police (Thomson 2008). He was convicted to life imprisonment in 1995. 12 years later in 2006 the Australian high court became aware that the police department had kept evidence that could have been useful for mallard to be set free or show his innocence.
This therefore, caused the high court to release mallard from prison, all charges were removed, and a new trial was set. This case brought about investigations in the police department and the case. After continuous investigations with the cold case team, it became apparent that the real killer was Simon Rochford who was previously sentenced for killing his girlfriend Brigit Dickens. While he was imprisoned, he committed suicide in Albany prison. The crime and corruption commission investigation that was headed by Judge John Dunford started to look at the people behind the case to try to find if there was any corruption when handling the mallard case. Unfortunately, the investigations found that two high-ranking police officers were involved in the wrongful conviction of Mr. Mallard.
The prosecutor Ken Bates was found to have taken part in the wrongful conviction. The government felt the need to compensate Mr. Mallard because of the wrongful conviction and was given a sum of $200,000 (Blackmore). There are ways in which the police department or the prosecutors can eradicate this problem and they include using of video recorder when interrogating a suspect so that when they do confess it will seem that they were not forced. The other way is that the police officers will be trained on the dangers of forcing a confession out of a person.
This is one of the main factors that have led to the wrongful convictions or miscarriage of justice of so many individuals who are suspected of committing crimes. A good example of a case that led to wrongful conviction due to this issue was the Terry Irvin conviction. In 1993, Terry Irvin was sentenced due to armed robbery in the Cairns bank. The evidence that incriminated him was due to the witnesses that came forward who were the three bank tellers. He was sentenced, imprisonment for a period of eight years though his statement in the trial remained the same that he was innocent and did not commit that crime.
While he was imprisoned, he was denied legal aid in order to apply for an appeal. Years later in 1997 when he had served practically half of his sentence, he was released on bail by the high court who found his case to be unjust (Egan 2010). The courts were also shocked to discover that he was not allowed legal lawyers thus he represented himself. Finally, the prosecutor did not find any reason for continuing with the case thus it was dropped. Some of the ways in which this problem could be eradicated is through lining up of suspects in front of the eyewitness or using numerous photos to see whether the suspect could be acknowledged.
This is when the investigation focuses on one particular suspects thereby they rule out any other suspects. Whenever there is evidence that will surely show that the individual may be innocent is disregarded therefore they end up convicting a possibly innocent man. A good example of this issue is the mallard case where the police department withheld evidence that could have exonerated the person. They continued with the case knowing full well that the suspect could be innocent (McCartney 2012). The sentencing was to be life imprisonment but years later the high court released him due to unwarranted ruling. There are actions that can be taken in order to stay away from this problem such as having more than one outlook on the case and police officers and the prosecutors should be educated on the dangers of tunnel vision and thus should investigate thoroughly.
In custody informers
This is a situation where an inmate who has incriminating information about a former inmate who confessed to them about a crime they committed contacts the police department. This kind of evidence could be false therefore; people may end up imprisoned for something they did not commit. This kind of evidence should be handled with the utmost care because it may be false (Offner 2012). This therefore means that the courts should ensure that when examining the credibility of the informant they should ensure that they look at what the informant will gain at the end of the testimony. This means that the police should look at all the evidence and see the connections to the case before they disregard it.
In conclusion, these factors have led to a lot of wrongful convictions over the years in many countries. Some of the high profile cases were due to the miscarriage of justice that led to the convictions of innocent men and women in Australia. In cases such as Mallards, there were many things that occurred to his conviction for example there were evidence that showed his innocence and the way he was denied a lawyer so that he could not continue to fight for his freedom. In his sentence, the police officers and prosecutor played a major role in making him for a crime that he knew nothing about. This kind of problems is what has made people questions forensic evidence, DNA evidence, eyewitnesses and in custody informers, because one never knows when the truth is being said or not. This means there should be measures that will help in eliminating any benefit of the doubt.
Blackmore, A. M. (n.d.). Correcting miscarriages of justice. Office of the director of public persecution .
Egan, C. 2010. "The Wronged Man Part Two – Transcript". Australian Story .
Hagan, K. 2009. DNA fiasco: rape conviction quashed. The age national .
McCartney, c. 2012. Miscarriages of Justice and Australian Criminal Appeals – a public presentation. The wrongful conviction blog .
Moles R. & Bibi S. 2010. Forensic Investigations and Miscarriages of Justice: The Rhetoric Meets the Reality. Irwin Law, Incorporated.
Offner, s. 2012. Miscarriages of justice. UNSW Australia .
Thomson, C. 2008. How the Mallard case unfolded. WA Today.com.au .