Bill introduced to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission

Minister of Justice Andrew little has introduced a bill designed to address a deficiency in our judicial system – a better means of addressing possible miscarriages of justice.

The timing of this looks suspiciously like it is designed to bolster Andrew Little’s image after the Waka jumping bill passes third reading yesterday, but it is a much more laudable bill.


Significant step to correct miscarriages of justice

Justice Minister Andrew Little has introduced the Bill to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

“The Government agreed to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission as part of the Labour New Zealand First Coalition agreement,” said Andrew Little.

“A Criminal Cases Review Commission provides a mechanism for addressing miscarriages of justice – this is a priority for the Government.

“The CCRC is an independent body that will review convictions and sentences where there is a suspected miscarriage of justice. It can refer cases back to the appeal courts, but it does not determine guilt or innocence. The CCRC will replace the referral power currently exercised by the Governor-General under section 406 of the Crimes Act 1961.

“The CCRC will be accessible and will take away some of the burden from applicants who require assistance.

“Given the resources the state puts into securing a conviction, I believe there is good reason for it to put adequate resources into correcting mistakes that may have been made. Having a CCRC will ensure there can be investigations into potential miscarriages of justice that are timely, fair and independent.”

“We have consulted with other countries who have CCRCs about their experience, and with senior New Zealand lawyers and academics. Their contributions to the Bill have been invaluable.”

“I look forward to the Select Committee’s consideration of this Bill and welcome public submissions on the Bill,” said Andrew Little.

The key aspects of the Bill are:

  • The test that a case must meet to be referred by the CCRC to the appeal court
  • The power that the CCRC has to access information, the way this power interacts with existing privileges, and the circumstances when the Commission may disclose this information
  • The interaction between the Commission and the residual Royal prerogative exercised by the Governor-General
  • The Commission’s powers to undertake inquiries into practice, policy, procedure, or other matters it considers to be related to miscarriages of justice
  • The ability for the Commission to make its own initial inquiries into a conviction or sentence.

Full text of the Bill

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2 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  September 28, 2018

    Good to see this. Marie Dyhrberg was on 1ewes last night speaking about it. I thing she reckoned there are about 40 genuinely innocent people wongly convicted, stuck in our prisons, unable to afford to access the legal & other expertise they need to get. themselves released.

    I had a quick squiz through the documents but I’m not entirely sure how easy it will be for someone in that situation to get their case before the Commission as they seem to have to have been through the appeal courts first.

    Couldn’t see anything about fees.

    Reply

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