A critical evaluation of the utility of using innocence as a criterion in the post conviction process.

Heaton, Stephen (2013) A critical evaluation of the utility of using innocence as a criterion in the post conviction process. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the plight of the innocent person who has been wrongly
convicted. It starts from the premise that such a fate is abhorrent and that the
criminal justice system should have effective mechanisms in place to correct such
errors. The Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) (CACD) has stated that it is not part
of its function to consider ‘innocence’. Only the safety of a conviction is within its
purview. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) cannot correct an error
itself, but can invite the CACD to consider doing so if it, CCRC, considers that
there is a ‘real possibility’ of the CACD quashing the conviction.
My hypothesis was that, in the light of these stated positions, neither the CACD
nor CCRC does treat ‘innocence’ as a discrete criterion in determining appeals
and applications respectively. I tested this hypothesis by examining CACD
judgments delivered in 2009 and judgments on CCRC conviction referrals in the
period 1997-2011. I examined 404 case files at CCRC. I found that neither body
gave consideration explicitly to whether the applicant/appellant was ‘innocent’.
I then considered whether ‘innocence’ could and should be an explicit
consideration for either body. I argue that while ‘innocence’ could be designated a
material consideration it should not be. The most important change that
Parliament should make is to CACD’s application of the appeal test: that is the
real obstacle for appellants who claim they are innocent. I propose that the CACD
should be required by statute to receive fresh evidence more readily, and in some
fresh evidence cases required to remit the case for retrial. Such changes would
impact positively upon CCRC, which would then be able to refer more cases in
which the applicant might be innocent.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Law
Depositing User: Mia Reeves
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2014 13:53
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2014 13:53
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/48765
DOI:

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