Pell convictions not supported by evidence – now quashed

Andrew L. Urban

In its unanimous 7 – 0 decision, the High Court concludes its summary of the decision in the George Pell appeal with an abundance of restraint: “a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof”. Continue reading

Posted in Case 07 George Pell | 14 Comments

Justice derailed – Part 3

Andrew L. Urban

In Part 1 of this series, we referred to the damaging effect that tunnel vision can have on the entire criminal justice process, from start to finish. Following the Australian examples in Part 1 (published January 15, 2020), here in Part 3 we outline a deeply disturbing example of tunnel vision from the US which demonstrates its extraordinary ‘stickiness’. (Part 2, concerning the case of Cardinal George Pell, was published March 13, 2020. The High Court decision in Pell will be delivered on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.)  Continue reading

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Justice derailed – Part 2

Andrew L. Urban.

 In Part 2, we examine the controversial case of Cardinal George Pell; his conviction and failed appeal, asking whether the evidence meets the standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt and whether the majority in the appeal court was justified in rejecting his appeal. The High Court this week heard arguments from both sides and is considering the case. (see Part 1, published January 15, 2020)

Continue reading

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Importing judges to avoid conflict of interest

Andrew L. Urban.

February 4, 2020: Further to our February 3 report on the former judge who has called for the Sue Neill-Fraser new appeal in Tasmania’s Supreme Court to be heard by mainland judges, we report on other such judge importations. Continue reading

Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 16 Comments

Sue Neill-Fraser appeal should be heard by mainland judges – says judge

Andrew L. Urban.

February 3, 2020: The three Tasmanian judges set to hear Sue Neill-Fraser’s new appeal in May 2020 against her 2010 conviction for the 2009 murder of her partner Bob Chappell should disqualify themselves and be replaced by interstate judges, says a former State and Federal court judge thoroughly familiar with the case. Continue reading

Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 44 Comments

Sue Neill-Fraser’s bitter sweet Australia Day

Andrew L. Urban.

January 26, 2009 was the last Australia Day that Sue Neill-Fraser enjoyed in the true spirit of Australia, with a blustery, crowded and celebratory Hobart full of young and old, her partner Bob Chappell tinkering aboard their marvellous new yacht, Four Winds, anchored in the Derwent River at Sandy Bay. She never saw him again. That August, she was charged and a year later convicted of his murder. She is still in prison, victim many believe, of a decidedly un-Australian spirit in the process that fused a deficient police investigation with a flawed prosecution and miserably unjust trial. Celebrate not, Australia, in her name.  Continue reading

Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 21 Comments

Australia “limping behind UK, NZ, Canada” in appeal laws – Kirby

“In Australia, two of the states and both mainland territories have not yet even decided to permit a second criminal appeal by leave on compelling evidence. And no jurisdiction has yet resolved to establish a Review Commission. What is it about our country that always sees us limping behind [UK, NZ and Canada] where justice is at stake, whereas we can move with astonishing speed to diminish civil liberties, increase official powers and raise levels of incarceration, with no parliamentarian raising a murmur,” writes The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG* in Criminal Law Journal, discussing right of appeal provisions.  Continue reading

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Blueprint for a fairer system

Andrew L. Urban.

Before Walkley Award winning journalist and legal historian Evan Whitton died (5 March 1928 – 16 July 2018), I had the good fortune to exchange a few notes with him about miscarriages of justice. He had written the acerbic book, Our Corrupt Legal System, whose title reflects his views about it. So we ask, How would we design a better, fairer legal system?  Continue reading

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Justice derailed – Part 1

Andrew L. Urban.

As 2020 begins, we look forward to Tasmania’s Supreme Court finally hearing Sue Neill-Fraser’s new appeal against her 2010 murder conviction in May. Also during the year, the NSW the Supreme Court is expected to hear Robert Xie’s appeal against his 2017 multiple murder conviction. In Part 1 of this series we examine these two cases where tunnel vision was a key element in securing unsafe convictions. Continue reading

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Hobart vigil for Bob Chappell & Sue Neill-Fraser

The support group for Sue Neill-Fraser, convicted of the murder of her partner Bob Chappell on Australia Day, 2009, is organising a vigil on the Parliament Lawns in Hobart. “The vigil is to remember Bob Chappell and to show our ongoing support for Sue Neill Fraser,” the Support Group said in a statement.

11am – 1pm
Parliament Lawns, Hobart

Posted in Case 01 Sue Neill-Fraser | 4 Comments