Secret trials… “Trust the judges” says justice secretary Grayling

05/06/2014

For the first time in modern history, a criminal trial involving 2 “terror suspects” is to be heard behind closed doors. You ever heard the much-quoted aphorism: “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”? Justice minister Chris Grayling is telling us that we must trust our judges to do the right thing. Which is surely one of the most stupid comments of the week. We can barely trust some judges to behave properly when the media spotlight is on them; why should we trust the self-interested idiots when no one’s looking over their shoulders?

The Guardian reports:

Until now it has not even been possible to report the existence of the forthcoming trial against the two men, known only as AB and CD. But three appeal court judges lifted a gagging order allowing reporting of a hearing challenging the plans.

The trial would be the first criminal case to be held behind closed doors for hundreds of years. It involves two defendants who are charged with terrorism but whose names are being withheld from the public. Unless the appeal succeeds, journalists will be banned from being present in court to report the proceedings on 16 June or the outcome of the trial.

The men will be tried by a jury but no report of the case will be made public and no members of the media or public will be given access to the court.

So, if the (still officially unnamed) defendants hadn’t appealed against these reporting restrictions, we the public would never have heard about it. As things are, the accused (whatever it is they’re accused of) are known to us only by the code-names “AB” and “CD”. We don’t know what they’re accused of; and journalists are barred from even reporting whether they are found guilty or not guilty!

If this travesty of justice is allowed to go ahead, it will be repeated again and again. After all, no major political party wants to be seen as “soft on terrorism”.

Worse than the “secret court” idea is the gagging component. Let’s say I’m a defendant in a secret court: people who know I’m innocent (for instance people who saw me in a pub in Glasgow when the crime took place in London will not come forward with this evidence because they won’t even know I’m being tried for it). The men will be tried by a jury but no report of the case will be made public and no members of the media or public will be given access to the court.

The court was told that the crown has sought and obtained legal orders on the grounds of national security, arguing that if the trial were held in public the prosecution might not proceed with the case. This reminds me of the terrorist suspects who are living under onerous “control orders” because if they were tried in court some terrible Godzilla monster will flatten Tokyo or something.

And what’s going to happen if the accused are found not guilty? Will the (obviously protected) prosecution witnesses be outed as liars and perverters of justice? Of course not.

Justice? What justice?

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Victim of miscarriage of justice told: Tough shit baby

25/01/2013

Jill-Dando-010
Jill Dando. She was not killed by Barry George, but the courts don’t give a toss

Barry George, the man wrongly convicted for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando, has been told he isn’t entitled to a penny of compensation even though he served eight years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. George is one of four people whose faulty convictions and subsequent claims for compensation were reviewed by the London high court.

This is because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 concerning compensation payments to victims of miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court ruling states:

“[A miscarriage of justice occurs] when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it…

“A claimant for compensation will not need to prove he was innocent of the crime but he will have to show that, on the basis of facts as they are now known, he should not have been convicted or that conviction could not possibly be based on those facts.”

Not all miscarriages of justice, it follows, will lead to compensation. “Procedural deficiencies that led to irregularities in the trial or errors in the investigation of offences will not suffice to establish entitlement to compensation,” the supreme court judges explained.

This means that it makes no difference whether you have committed the crime or not. You’ll get compensation only if compelling new evidence comes to light. A flawed police investigation, or faulty behaviour by court officers at the time of the trial, mean nothing. So Barry George, who wrongly served eight years, gets nothing by way of compensation. Neither will Ismail Ali, who was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon his wife at Luton Crown Court in 2007; Kevin Dennis, whose conviction of the murder of Babatunde Oba was declared unsound and whose retrial was abandoned when the trial judge agreed with submissions there was no case answer and directed the jury to acquit Dennis of murder; and Justin Tunbridge whose convictions for two counts of indecent assault in 1995 were eventually quashed by the Court of Appeal in April 2008. Another eleven miscarriage of justice cases are due to come before the High Court soon, but these rulings make it unlikely that any compensation will be paid to these innocent people.

This is what it boils down to: it doesn’t matter if you actually committed the crimes you were sent to jail for. In Barry George’s case, he served eight years for a crime he did not commit. His wrongful conviction made him a hate figure to the public who loved Jill Dando. And now he’s been denied compensation, which will make people think “there’s no smoke without fire – he must have done it, otherwise he’d have got compensation.” This could happen to any of us. And this is British justice? Gaddafi’s Libya would probably have been fairer.

Make no mistake: George, Ali, Dennis and Tunbridge did not commit the crimes for which they were imprisoned. They’ve had years stolen from their lives, they have been labelled murderers,or sex offenders, labels which tend to stick. And what compensation do they get? None. British justice is a sadistic farce.

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Capital punishment is GOOD!! There have NEVER been miscarriages of justice blah blah bullshit…

15/05/2012

Interesting story in the Guardian today – one which demonstrates how much of a dick is “Justice” Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court. A few years back, Scalia said “There has not been a single case – not one – in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred … the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.” Hope you’re up on the roof right now, Scalia, shouting the name “Carlos DeLuna”.

The Guardian article tells us:

Carlos DeLuna was arrested, aged 20, on 4 February 1983 for the brutal murder of a young woman, Wanda Lopez. She had been stabbed once through the left breast with an 8in lock-blade buck knife which had cut an artery causing her to bleed to death.

From the moment of his arrest until the day of his death by lethal injection six years later, DeLuna consistently protested he was innocent. He went further – he said that though he hadn’t committed the murder, he knew who had. He even named the culprit: a notoriously violent criminal called Carlos Hernandez.

But the police and prosecution made a mockery of that claim: they declared that they’d searched high and low for this “Hernandez” character didn’t exist. And it’s only thanks to the diligence of Professor James Liebman and 12 students (plus the one, repeat one private investigator Liebman hired to find Hernandez, which he did in one day!) that we now know Carlos Hernandez does exist, that he was an alcoholic with a history of violence, who was always in the company of his trusted companion: a lock-blade buck knife. Whereas DeLuna had no history of carrying a weapon.

I’m not going to repeat the entire article here – go read the story in the Guardian (here’s a link for ya) – all I’m trying to do is show that capital punishment is A Bad Thing; people get executed for stuff they didn’t do; and if the truth ever does surface (thanks to folk like Liebman and his colleagues) there ain’t a damn thing you can do to right the wrong. Carlos DeLuna’s dead, and he’s staying dead regardless of what the courts do about Hernandez. Now go see if you can wash that blood offa your hands, “Justice” Scalia and friends.

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