The case for a Criminal Cases Review Commission

The Herald reports:

Dr Gilbert said the NZPIP was “run on the smell of an oily rag”, largely relying on volunteers, including University of Canterbury law students.

He acknowledged that many prisoners wrongly claimed innocence – “everyone in prison is innocent” – and said the project had been inundated since it began operations a couple of months ago.

However, if the Government were to establish a commission it would not “open a great floodgate”.

“If we look at the UK, 30 per cent of cases brought before that committee are thrown out immediately because they don’t meet the criteria, and only 6 per cent will go forward or be referred to the Court of Appeal.

“We are talking about a fairly modest number. But of those, 64 per cent are upheld, so they are righting injustices.”

So only one in 20 cases get referred to the Court of Appeal, but two thirds of those are upheld. That’s impressive figures and I think a good reason why we should have such a Commission here.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said she was satisfied the current system was capable of correcting miscarriages of justice, through appeals or the royal prerogative of mercy process.

A body like a performed exactly the same function as the royal prerogative of mercy, Ms Adams said.

I don’t agree. Firstly it would be separate from the Ministry of Justice and secondly it would build up expertise in this area.

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