Miscarriage of justice
Overview
A miscarriage of justice primarily is the conviction
Conviction
In law, a conviction is the verdict that results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime.The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal . In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdict of "not proven", which counts as an acquittal...

 and punishment
Punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 of a person for a crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 they did not commit. The term can also apply to errors in the other direction—"errors of impunity
Errors of impunity
Errors of impunity is a term used in 's book Errors of Justice and in Robert Bohm's introduction to a special edition of The Journal of Criminal Justice on miscarriages of justice. They are defined as lapses that result in criminals either remaining at large or receiving sanctions that are below a...

", and to civil cases. Most criminal justice systems have some means to overturn, or "quash", a wrongful conviction, but this is often difficult to achieve. The most serious instances occur when a wrongful conviction is not overturned for several years, or until after the innocent person has been executed or died in jail
Jail
A jail is a short-term detention facility in the United States and Canada.Jail may also refer to:In entertainment:*Jail , a 1966 Malayalam movie*Jail , a 2009 Bollywood movie...

.

"Miscarriage of justice" is sometimes synonymous with wrongful conviction, referring to a conviction reached in an unfair or disputed trial
Trial (law)
In law, a trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
A miscarriage of justice primarily is the conviction
Conviction
In law, a conviction is the verdict that results when a court of law finds a defendant guilty of a crime.The opposite of a conviction is an acquittal . In Scotland and in the Netherlands, there can also be a verdict of "not proven", which counts as an acquittal...

 and punishment
Punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 of a person for a crime
Crime
Crime is the breach of rules or laws for which some governing authority can ultimately prescribe a conviction...

 they did not commit. The term can also apply to errors in the other direction—"errors of impunity
Errors of impunity
Errors of impunity is a term used in 's book Errors of Justice and in Robert Bohm's introduction to a special edition of The Journal of Criminal Justice on miscarriages of justice. They are defined as lapses that result in criminals either remaining at large or receiving sanctions that are below a...

", and to civil cases. Most criminal justice systems have some means to overturn, or "quash", a wrongful conviction, but this is often difficult to achieve. The most serious instances occur when a wrongful conviction is not overturned for several years, or until after the innocent person has been executed or died in jail
Jail
A jail is a short-term detention facility in the United States and Canada.Jail may also refer to:In entertainment:*Jail , a 1966 Malayalam movie*Jail , a 2009 Bollywood movie...

.

"Miscarriage of justice" is sometimes synonymous with wrongful conviction, referring to a conviction reached in an unfair or disputed trial
Trial (law)
In law, a trial is when parties to a dispute come together to present information in a tribunal, a formal setting with the authority to adjudicate claims or disputes. One form of tribunal is a court...

. Wrongful convictions are frequently cited by death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 opponents as cause to eliminate death penalties to avoid executing innocent persons. In recent years, DNA evidence
Genetic fingerprinting
DNA profiling is a technique employed by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals by their respective DNA profiles. DNA profiles are encrypted sets of numbers that reflect a person's DNA makeup, which can also be used as the person's identifier...

 has been used to clear many people falsely convicted.

While a miscarriage of justice is a Type I error for falsely identifying culpability, an error of impunity would be a Type II error of failing to find a culpable person guilty.

Scandinavian languages have a word, the Swedish variant of which is justitiemord, which literally translates as "justice murder." The term exists in several languages and was originally used for cases where the accused was convicted, executed, and later cleared after death. With capital punishment decreasing, the expression has acquired an extended meaning, namely any conviction for a crime not committed by the convicted. The retention of the term "murder" represents both universal abhorrence against wrongful convictions and awareness of how destructive wrongful convictions are. Some Slavic languages have also the word (justičná vražda in Slovak, justiční vražda in Czech) which literally translates as "justice murder", but it is used for Judicial murder
Judicial murder
Judicial murder is the unjustified execution of death penalty.The term was first used in 1782 by August Ludwig von Schlözer in reference to the execution of Anna Göldi...

.

Also, the term travesty of justice is sometimes used for a gross, deliberate miscarriage of justice. The usage of the term in a specific case is, however, inherently biased due to different opinions about the case. Show trial
Show trial
The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

s (not in the sense of high publicity, but in the sense of lack of regard to the actual legal procedure and fairness), due to their character, often lead to such travesties.

The concept of miscarriage of justice has important implications for standard of review
Standard of review
In LAW, the standard of review is the amount of deference given by one court in reviewing a decision of a lower court or tribunal. A low standard of review means that the decision under review will be varied or overturned if the reviewing court considers there is any error at all in the lower...

, in that an appellate court
Appellate court
An appellate court, commonly called an appeals court or court of appeals or appeal court , is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal...

 will often only exercise its discretion to correct plain error when a miscarriage of justice (or "manifest injustice") would otherwise occur.

General issues

Causes of miscarriages of justice include:
  • Plea bargain
    Plea bargain
    A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case whereby the prosecutor offers the defendant the opportunity to plead guilty, usually to a lesser charge or to the original criminal charge with a recommendation of a lighter than the maximum sentence.A plea bargain allows criminal defendants to...

    s that offer incentives for the innocent to plead guilty
  • Confirmation bias
    Confirmation bias
    Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue...

     on the part of investigators
  • Withholding or destruction of evidence
    Evidence
    Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either presumed to be true, or were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth...

     by police
    Police
    The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

     or prosecution
    Prosecutor
    The prosecutor is the chief legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system...

  • Fabrication of evidence or outright perjury
    Perjury
    Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

     by police (see testilying
    Testilying
    Testilying is a United States police slang term for the practice of giving false testimony against a defendant in a criminal trial. It is typically used to "make the case" against someone they believe to be guilty when minor irregularities during the suspect's arrest or search threaten to result...

    ), or prosecution witnesses (e.g. Charles Randal Smith
    Charles Randal Smith
    Charles Randal Smith was a Canadian pathologist who was the head pediatric forensic pathologist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, from 1982 to 2003. The quality of his autopsies, and the resulting criminal charges and convictions of several people, have been called into...

    )
  • Biased editing of evidence
  • Prejudice towards the class of people to which the defendant belongs
  • Misidentification of the perpetrator by witnesses and/or victims
  • Overestimation/underestimation of the evidential value of expert testimony
    Expert witness
    An expert witness, professional witness or judicial expert is a witness, who by virtue of education, training, skill, or experience, is believed to have expertise and specialised knowledge in a particular subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially and legally...

  • Contaminated evidence
  • Faulty forensic tests
  • False confession
    False confession
    A false confession is an admission of guilt in a crime in which the confessor is not responsible for the crime. False confessions can be induced through coercion or by the mental disorder or incompetency of the accused...

    s due to police pressure or psychological weakness
  • Misdirection of a jury by a judge during trial
  • Perjured
    Perjury
    Perjury, also known as forswearing, is the willful act of swearing a false oath or affirmation to tell the truth, whether spoken or in writing, concerning matters material to a judicial proceeding. That is, the witness falsely promises to tell the truth about matters which affect the outcome of the...

     evidence by the real guilty party or their accomplices (frameup
    Frameup
    A frame-up or setup is an American term referring to the act of framing someone, that is, providing false evidence or false testimony in order to falsely prove someone guilty of a crime....

    )
  • Perjured evidence by supposed victim or their accomplices
  • Conspiracy between court of appeal judges and prosecutors to uphold conviction of innocent


Risk of miscarriages of justice is one of the main arguments against the death penalty
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

. Where condemned persons are executed promptly after conviction, the most significant effect of a miscarriage of justice is irreversible. Wrongly-executed people nevertheless occasionally receive posthumous pardon
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

s—which essentially void
Void (law)
In law, void means of no legal effect. An action, document or transaction which is void is of no legal effect whatsoever: an absolute nullity - the law treats it as if it had never existed or happened....

 the conviction—or have their convictions quashed. Many death penalty states hold condemned persons for ten or more years before execution, so that any new evidence that might acquit them (or, at least, provide reasonable doubt
Reasonable doubt
Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard of evidence required to validate a criminal conviction in most adversarial legal systems . Generally the prosecution bears the burden of proof and is required to prove their version of events to this standard...

) will have had time to surface.

Even when a wrongly-convicted person is not executed, years in prison can have a substantial, irreversible effect on the person and their family. The risk of miscarriage of justice is therefore also an argument against long sentences, like life sentence, and cruel sentence conditions.

The Netherlands

The Schiedammerpark murder case, as well as the similarly overturned case of the Putten murder, led to the installation of the "Posthumus I committee", which analyzed what had gone wrong in the Schiedammerpark Murder case, and came to the conclusion that confirmation bias
Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue...

 led the police to ignore and misinterpret scientific evidence (DNA). Subsequently, the so-called Posthumus II committee investigated whether other such cases might have occurred. The committee received 25 applications from concerned and involved scientists, and decided to consider three of them further: the Lucia de Berk
Lucia de Berk
Lucia de Berk, often called Lucia de B. or Lucy de B is a Dutch licenced paediatric nurse, who was subject to a miscarriage of justice. She was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2003 for four murders and three attempted murders of patients in her care...

 case, the Ina Post case, and the Enschede incest case. In these three cases, independent researchers (professors Wagenaar
Willem Albert Wagenaar
Willem Albert Wagenaar was a Dutch psychologist noted for his work on the reliability of memory. He gained fame as an expert witness in some high profile legal cases.- Academic History :...

, van Koppen, Israëls, Crombag, and Derksen) claim confirmation bias and misuse of complex scientific evidence led to miscarriages of justice.

Norway

Norwegian police, courts, and prison authorities have been criticized and convicted on several occasions by the European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is a supra-national court established by the European Convention on Human Rights and hears complaints that a contracting state has violated the human rights enshrined in the Convention and its protocols. Complaints can be brought by individuals or...

 for breaking the principle of innocent until proven guilty.

However, the maximum penalty in Norway is normally no longer than 21 years. Thereby, most of the victims have been acquitted after their release from prison.

Spain

The Constitution of Spain
Spanish Constitution of 1978
-Structure of the State:The Constitution recognizes the existence of nationalities and regions . Preliminary Title As a result, Spain is now composed entirely of 17 Autonomous Communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of autonomy, to the extent that, even though the Constitution...

 guarantees compensation in cases of miscarriage of justice.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 a jailed person whose conviction is quashed may be paid compensation
Damages
In law, damages is an award, typically of money, to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury; grammatically, it is a singular noun, not plural.- Compensatory damages :...

 for the time they were incarcerated. This is currently limited by statute to a maximum sum of £500,000. See also :Category:Overturned convictions in the United Kingdom.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Until 2005, the parole
Parole
Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole . Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their...

 system assumed all convicted persons were guilty, and poorly handled those who were not. To be paroled, a convicted person had to sign a document in which, among other things, they confessed to the crime for which they were convicted. Someone who refused to sign this declaration spent longer in jail than someone who signed it. Some wrongly convicted people, such as the Birmingham Six
Birmingham Six
The Birmingham Six were six men—Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker—sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 in the United Kingdom for the Birmingham pub bombings. Their convictions were declared unsafe and quashed by the Court of...

, were refused parole for this reason. In 2005 the system changed, and began to parole prisoners who never admitted guilt.

English law has no official means of correcting a "perverse" verdict (conviction of a defendant on the basis of insufficient evidence). Appeals are based exclusively on new evidence or errors by the judge or prosecution (but not the defense), or jury irregularities. A reversal occurred, however, in the 1930s when William Herbert Wallace
William Herbert Wallace
William Herbert Wallace was convicted in 1931 of the murder of his wife Julia in their home in Wolverton Street in Liverpool's Anfield district...

 was exonerated of the murder of his wife. There is no right to a trial without jury (except during the troubles in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 or in the case where there is a significant risk of jury-tampering, such as organised crime cases, when a judge or judges presided without a jury).

During the early 1990s, a series of high-profile cases turned out to be miscarriages of justice. Many resulted from police fabricating evidence to convict people they thought were guilty, or simply to get a high conviction rate. The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad
West Midlands Serious Crime Squad
The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was a police unit in the English West Midlands which operated from 1974 to 1989. It was disbanded after an investigation into allegations against some of its officers of incompetence and abuses of power....

 became notorious for such practices, and was disbanded in 1989. In 1997 the Criminal Cases Review Commission
Criminal Cases Review Commission
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an non-departmental public body set up following the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice itself a continuation of the May Inquiry. It aims to investigate possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 was established specifically to examine possible miscarriages of justice. However, it still requires either strong new evidence of innocence, or new proof of a legal error by the judge or prosecution. For example, merely insisting you are innocent and the jury made an error, or stating there was not enough evidence to prove guilt, is not enough. It is not possible to question the jury's decision or query on what matters it was based. The waiting list for cases to be considered for review is at least two years on average.

In 2002, the NI Court of Appeal made an exception to who could avail of the right to a fair trial in R v Walsh.
“… if a defendant has been denied a fair trial it will almost be inevitable that the conviction will be regarded unsafe, the present case in our view constitutes an exception to the general rule. ... the conviction is to be regarded as safe, even if a breach of Article 6(1) were held to have occurred in the present case.” see Christy Walsh (Case)

Scotland

The Criminal Appeal (Scotland) Act 1927 increased the jurisdicion of the Scottish Court of Criminal Appeal following the miscarriage of justice surrounding the Trial of Oscar Slater.

Reflecting Scotland's own legal system
Scots law
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is considered a hybrid or mixed legal system as it traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. With English law and Northern Irish law it forms the legal system of the United Kingdom; it shares with the two other systems some...

, which differs from that of the rest of the United Kingdom, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission
The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission is a non-departmental public body in Scotland, established by the Criminal Procedure Act 1995 ....

 (SCCRC) was established in April 1999. All cases accepted by the SCCRC are subjected to a robust and thoroughly impartial review before a decision on whether or not to refer to the High Court of Justiciary
High Court of Justiciary
The High Court of Justiciary is the supreme criminal court of Scotland.The High Court is both a court of first instance and a court of appeal. As a court of first instance, the High Court sits mainly in Parliament House, or in the former Sheriff Court building, in Edinburgh, but also sits from time...

 is taken.

United States

Numerous cases. A list of dozens of death sentence miscarriages is at US Exonerated Death Row Cases.

Instances of where a wrongful execution has taken place is at Miscarriage (Executed)
Wrongful execution
Wrongful execution is a miscarriage of justice occurring when an innocent person is put to death by capital punishment, the "death penalty." Cases of wrongful execution are cited as an argument by the opponents of capital punishment....

.

See also

  • Vincent Simmons
    Vincent Simmons
    Vincent Simmons is a prisoner at Angola State Prison in Louisiana. He was a subject of the 1997 HBO documentary "The Farm: Life In Angola Prison," as well as the follow-up documentary "Shadows of Doubt." He has remained in Angola for the last 34 years where he is serving a 100-year sentence for the...

  • Deventer murder case
    Deventer murder case
    The Deventer murder case is a murder case which took place in the Dutch city of Deventer in 1999. It has become a cause célèbre because the murder has officially been solved, but not everybody agrees with the final judgment of the court. The case has been re-opened twice...

  • Timothy Evans
    Timothy Evans
    Timothy John Evans was a Welshman accused of murdering his wife and daughter at their residence in Notting Hill, London in November 1949. In January 1950 Evans was tried and convicted of the murder of his daughter, and he was sentenced to death by hanging...

  • Johnny Garrett
    Johnny Garrett
    Johnny Frank Garrett was a Texas inmate executed for the rape and murder of a 76-year-old nun, Sister Tadea Benz, on October 31, 1981....

  • Murder of Meredith Kercher
    Murder of Meredith Kercher
    The murder of Meredith Kercher occurred in Perugia, Italy, on 1 November 2007. Kercher, aged 21 at the time of her death, was a British university exchange student from Coulsdon, south London. She was found dead on the floor of her bedroom with stab wounds to the throat...

  • Chantal McCorkle
    Chantal McCorkle
    Chantal Watts McCorkle is a British citizen. Along with William J. McCorkle , her American husband, she was tried and convicted in 1998 in Florida for her part in a financial fraud. The McCorkles sold kits purporting to show buyers how to get rich by buying property in foreclosures and...


  • Teresa de Simone
    Murder of Teresa de Simone
    The murder of Teresa de Simone was committed in Southampton, England, in 1979 and led to one of the longest proven cases of a miscarriage of justice in British legal history. The murder occurred outside the Tom Tackle pub and was the subject of a three-year police investigation which resulted in...

     - The longest case of miscarriage of justice in British law.
  • Christy Walsh (Case)


  • Error of impunity
  • False accusations
    False accusations
    False accusations can be in any of the following contexts:* informally in everyday life* quasi-judicially* judicially.-Types:...

  • False allegation of child sexual abuse
    False allegation of child sexual abuse
    A false allegation of child sexual abuse is an accusation that a person committed one or more acts of child sexual abuse when in reality there was no perpetration of abuse by the accused person as alleged. Such accusations can be brought by the alleged victim , or by another person on the alleged...

  • False confession
    False confession
    A false confession is an admission of guilt in a crime in which the confessor is not responsible for the crime. False confessions can be induced through coercion or by the mental disorder or incompetency of the accused...

  • Fingerprint
    Fingerprint
    A fingerprint in its narrow sense is an impression left by the friction ridges of a human finger. In a wider use of the term, fingerprints are the traces of an impression from the friction ridges of any part of a human hand. A print from the foot can also leave an impression of friction ridges...


  • Innocence Project
    Innocence Project
    An Innocence Project is one of a number of non-profit legal organizations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand dedicated to proving the innocence of wrongly convicted people through the use of DNA testing, and to reforming the criminal justice systems to...

  • Legal abuse
    Legal abuse
    Legal abuse refers to abuses associated with both civil and criminal legal action. Abuse can originate from nearly any part of the legal system, including frivolous and vexatious litigants, abuses by law enforcement, incompetent, careless or corrupt attorneys and misconduct from the judiciary...

  • List of exonerated death row inmates
  • Police misconduct
    Police misconduct
    Police misconduct refers to inappropriate actions taken by police officers in connection with their official duties. Police misconduct can lead to a miscarriage of justice and sometimes involves discrimination...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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