Review of miscarriages of justice ‘absolutely overdue’

The AM Show 28/09/2018

A criminal defence lawyer says the establishment of an independent body to look at miscarriages of justice is long overdue.

Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced the Bill, which would create the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), on Thursday.

"Given the resources the state puts into securing a conviction, I believe there is good reason for it to put adequate resources into correcting mistakes that may have been made," he said.

"Having a CCRC will ensure there can be investigations into potential miscarriages of justice that are timely, fair and independent."

Marie Dyhrberg told The AM Show the legal profession had been asking for a commission for years.

"Retired Justice [Thomas] Thorp has been calling for this for years and years, and the defence bar in particular has been right behind it," she said.

"You're going to have dedicated staff, committed to looking at general policy such as disclosure identification issues that will arise in miscarriages of justice, but they will concentrate on whether a particular case is indeed a miscarriage of justice, and it will have the independence."

Ms Dyhrberg worked on the case of Teina Pora, who spent years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit, and said there could be others like him in prison.

"People say 'it's terrible what happened to Teina', but [what about] all those other people sitting inside, the other hundreds of Teinas who are still inside."

According to Ms Dyhrberg, a lot of miscarriages of justice are down to a lack of access to legal help and the sheer amount of time needed to mount an appeal.

"People are in jail, they cannot find appeal lawyers, [and] they cannot find good lawyers that can put all the hours aside that are necessary to provide the watertight case, "she said.

"You don't get the funds for it, so it's an access to justice system."

Watch the full interview with Marie Dyhrberg above.

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