OT - Double Jeopardy Laws to be overturned

Discussion in 'JonBenet Ramsey' started by wonderllama, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. wonderllama

    wonderllama Registered Snoozer

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    Before people scratch their heads, I'm just posting this as a side issue.

    Here in Australia we have the same sort of Double Jeopardy rules as my friends across the pond here have, as well as UKGuy does.

    These apparently date back to the year 350 or so whereby they were created so that people on trial couldn't be continuously tried for the same crime until the verdict was what the Government, or whoever, wanted.

    So a reasonably good law.

    Our version comes from the UK law which dates back some 800 years or so.

    Anyway, about 23 years ago, two policemen were killed in Melbourne, Victoria (where I live) in the middle of a suburban street during the day (unheard of in safe and happy Oz) and the people who committed the crimes were some of the biggest thugs and criminals known to authorities.

    Long story short, they managed to escape justice due by nobbling of witnesses etc and got away with it.

    Now our State Government is about to overturn this Double Jeopardy law, but only in cases where DNA or overwhelming evidence or confessions, are part of the new and extenuating circumstances surrounding a case.

    Now I'm big on justice being done and being seen to be done, and everyone KNEW these guys did it....so much so that the Police over the years have managed to arrest/shoot/etc pretty much all of the people involved in relation to other crimes. But I am uncertain as to the consequences should this pass...

    I worry that the fundamental reason for implementing this law is possibly being eroded to a concerning level whereby the Govt or some other body may be able to, in effect, try someone until they get the perceived right result.

    I know, evidence is evidence and it should tell the story (and here's my tenuous JBR link), but we see how wacky and possibly contradictory evidence can result in non-results and endless speculation as to what is the correct end result in a 'justice being done' sense.

    Anyway, I just thought I'd share with you some of the goings on from sunny Down Under...where it isn't actually sunny.
     
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  3. SuperDave

    SuperDave Active Member

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    I'm with you, llama. I'm all for popping the bad guys, but an unchecked government is worse than a thousand crooks put together.
     
  4. UKGuy

    UKGuy Well-Known Member

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    wonderllama,

    Yes there has been a lot of head scratching over this issue in the UK so in England and Wales they conjured up this in 2005:

    Double jeopardy law ushered out
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4406129.stm

    and 2010 in Scotland which has a separate judicial system.
    Double jeopardy law will be scrapped in Scotland
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-10977281

    seems to relate to new incontrovertable evidence that places a cleared person at the scene of the crime e.g. dna?


    .
     
  5. wonderllama

    wonderllama Registered Snoozer

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    Yes, not retrospective, only new evidence....

    Look, I can see how DNA is GOLD for this kind of thing. It's ever evolving (pun partially intended) and if something points to irrefutable proof of guilt or innocence because of technological advances etc, are we foolish to keep an 800 year old law in spite of it?

    Probably yes, but it then comes down to who's calling the shots!
     
  6. SunnieRN

    SunnieRN Active Member

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    You have to consider the advances in DNA, including the notorious touch DNA. Is it enough to prove guilt in and by its self? There needs to be a hard look at DNA, how it is obtained, the type of DNA being used as evidence and the possibility of innocent contact, being mistaken for guilt.

    To me this has a LOT of future implications. Kind of like 'eye witness' testimony.
     
  7. DeeDee249

    DeeDee249 New Member

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    I think it is risky to use Touch DNA in a case under any circumstances, because by its very nature, it can be transferred by means that have nothing to do with the crime.

    I would like to see Double Jeopardy overturned or dismissed in cases where new evidence, including confessions, has been revealed.
     
  8. Chrishope

    Chrishope New Member

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    my 2 cents is this - the DJ laws are good and the defendant shouldn't face DJ, even with advances in forensics. A person is tried at a particular time with the science that exists at the time. There is a larger principal involved - larger than convicting the guilty party.
     
  9. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

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    I used to agree with that but DJ was all about stopping people from facing persecution by prosecution. Nowadays, forensics means that there is at least a new case (or a better case) to answer. Alien DNA is freeing criminals left, right and centre - to me, the new DJ rules are just the criminal justice system reasserting itself so, where possible, it can lasso a few people back into the net.

    That said, where you know for a fact that a criminal has perpetrated a serious crime (eg. where they have been bragging about acquittal), you can always go for a charge of perjury which carries significant penalties and has been used in at least one case in the UK recently to incarcerate a murderer who had been acquitted and, at the time, could not be re-tried and was going around bragging about it.
     
  10. BOESP

    BOESP Active Member

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    I disagree. Justice is the goal in my book, which means convicting the guilty is the primary concern (or principal as you see it).
     
  11. Barry

    Barry Registered Fence Sitter

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    I think it's a bad idea. Even DNA could be planted.
     
  12. Chrishope

    Chrishope New Member

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    It's as bad an idea today as it was 800 years ago. - and for the same reason. A person cannot be proven innocent, only found "not guilty".

    DNA could be planted, but also, changes in DNA technology can have the case flip-flopping. Suppose better technology finds more touch DNA in the JBR case - multiple IDI suspects or more unrelated DNA that doesn't belong to the killer? Have another trial? Another? Yet another? Every time technology improves you have a new trail? A person might have to stand trail every few years until he's convicted or dies. That's what DJ seeks to avoid.
     
  13. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

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    Didn't want to start a new thread but thought I'd flag up a book that I think will interest a lot of posters on here. It's called 'Defending the Guilty' by Alex MacBride, a barrister. While not a treatise on this case, it has some comical parallels here and there and is a slightly scary but also very funny commentary on common law legal systems.

    If you need some light relief, buy it or PM me and I'll send you my copy.
     
  14. Sophie

    Sophie New Member

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    Actually, chrisshope, I think you have hit upon an issue that could batter the common law criminal systems in the next few years.
     
  15. wonderllama

    wonderllama Registered Snoozer

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    Thought I'd give you all an update - this is happening next month here in my Australian state of Victoria.

    "The Victorian government will later this year introduce legislation opening the way for retrials when there is new and compelling evidence that a person acquitted of a serious crime was in fact guilty."

    The case they are already working on is a notorious Police Shooting from 1988 where 4 criminals killed 2 policemen and escaped prosecution when the star witness withdrew her testimony.

    There's a lot going on down here relating to this case.
     
  16. wonderllama

    wonderllama Registered Snoozer

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    Sorry for bumping an old thread, but now it seems one of the states in Australia is about to change the 'right to remain silent' rules to fall in line with what is used in the UK.

    You have the right to remain silent, but your lack of cooperation can be taken negatively.
    It is designed to stop people from making up alibis down the track which seem to be made up at the trial stage *cough* Casey Anthony *cough*.

    Relevance to JBR case?
    Well pretty much everyone has tried to remain silent.

    FYI
     

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