Kamala Harris ex-prosecutor – a friend of justice?

Andrew L. Urban

Integrity goes to character. Does Kamala Harris pass the test? This is a key question now she is the Vice Presidential candidate on Joe Biden’s Presidential ticket, but in her previous life, she was San Francisco’s District Attorney (2004-2011), and then California’s Attorney General (2011-2017). Was she always a friend of justice? Is her integrity beyond reproach? Continue reading

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Sorry – for 27 years in jail

A Chinese court has apologised to Yuhuan Zhang for his wrongful conviction, after he spent 27 years in jail. The news comes just days after our two-part series on US and Australian prosecutors and judges making similar apologies. We like to report on these as encouragement to other officers of the courts to do the Honourable thing and acknowledge their mistakes (or worse, their malpractices). Continue reading

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Sue Neill-Fraser ‘much loved and respected’ by inmates

Two former prison inmates attending the Hobart vigil held on Saturday August 1, 2020 to mark the 4,000 days Sue Neill-Fraser has spent in jail, were interviewed by the Hobart Mercury’s Sally Glaetzer and the story was headline news in the paper’s online edition later that day. Neill-Fraser, the story said, made pavlovas on prisoners’ birthdays and gave legal advice; she is “much loved and respected by her fellow prisoners”. Continue reading

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The Honourable List – in Australia

Previously, we held up as examples some prosecutors and judges who had Honourably taken responsibility and apologised for mistakes and malpractice causing some innocents to suffer wrongful convictions. They were (almost) all in America; we couldn’t find any examples in Australia. But now we have – and one of them of no less stature than revered former High Court judge, The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG. Continue reading

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The Honourable List – a start

Doing the honourable thing by accepting responsibility for mistakes within the criminal justice system stands out as a novelty, it sometimes seems to us. So we want to recognise some of those who have done the honourable thing, apologising for mistakes and/or malpractice that sent people to prison. That’s a start – but The System must reduce the need to apologise. Reforms to The System would help, but The System is not reforming itself. Continue reading

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How to fix Australia’s biggest legal scandal

Andrew L. Urban.

It could be the start of a black joke: ‘have you heard the one about the chief forensic pathologist of a modern Australian state who was not qualified to do his job, was discredited by the legal establishment, yet he continued over decades to perform thousands of autopsies and the like, including 400 serious criminal cases….’ The people of Massachusetts might reply, ‘that’s not a scandal … THIS is a scandal…’  Continue reading

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Was Joanne Lees’ hair tie a smoking gun?

Andrew L. Urban.

In the wake of our July 21, 2020 story covering the CJZ produced Channel 7 documentary mini series, Murder in the Outback, in which Bradley Murdoch’s conviction for the murder of Peter Falconio was examined, several readers commented on the fact that the series didn’t mention the hair tie found on Murdoch’s holster – which some see as compelling evidence against Murdoch. It allegedly belonged to Falconio’s girlfriend, Joanne Lees. Murdoch had it in his possession … gotcha! Not quite.  Continue reading

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Innocence Files reveals the really guilty

Andrew L. Urban.

Justice at the hands of ‘The System’ is sometimes no justice at all, it seems, as the new 9-part series The Innocence Files (Netflix) reveals how police break the rules, forensic experts use junk science, prosecutors withhold exculpatory evidence and judges fail the wisdom test. But some witnesses also contribute to wrongful convictions – which can take decades to correct, if ever. Continue reading

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Sue Neill-Fraser trial flashback – the defence closing submission

Marking 11 years since her arrest (August 20, 2009) and while awaiting the oft-delayed start of Sue Neill-Fraser’s further appeal against her conviction for the murder of Bob Chappell (now scheduled for November 2, 2020), we publish the transcript of the closing submission of her defence barrister, (the late) David Gunson SC, as a case briefing for those not familiar with it, but also as an opportunity to re-examine the various elements that give rise to serious concerns about the safety of the conviction. Continue reading

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Expert Witness 101 – inform, not advocate

Andrew L. Urban.

Eve Ash, the Melbourne filmmaker whose documentary, Shadow of Doubt, opened a Pandora’s Box on the Sue Neill-Fraser (many say wrongful) murder conviction, has produced a 4-part eLearning course, Giving Expert Evidence, which has now (July 23, 2020) been released on OPENSESAME.com an acclaimed online learning library based in USA. It begins by urging expert witnesses not to advocate but inform. Oh, and beware of ego …  Continue reading

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