ANALYSIS: High profile miscarriage cases attract publicity because of corrupt police or dishonest or incompetent experts, writes Maslen Merchant; however, compare those relatively few cases with the number of cases which become miscarriages because of poor defence work. This is happening in every court every day to some degree. As the criminal legal aid budget is tightened it will only get worse. Conscientious, ethical, altruistic lawyers are now few and far between and the number of miscarriage cases rises proportionately.
Today’s criminal lawyer is a businessman first and foremost – practising law seems to be sandwiched somewhere in between accountancy, practice management and marketing.
Access to justice for a defendant in criminal proceedings is entirely dependent on the trial process being fair. This extends not only to the judiciary and the prosecuting authorities but also the defence lawyers. In my view, there are far too many defence lawyers who fail in their duty to their clients at very basic levels and who, therefore, undermine the fairness of the proceedings as a whole.
This is an extract from Wrongly Accused? Who is responsible for investigating miscarriages of justices due out later this month as part of the Justice Gap series. The whole article is here.
PHOTO: The photo comes from www.justiceforkevinlane.com. Kevin Lane was jailed for life for in 1996 for the murder of Robert Magill. Maslen Merchant is acting for Kevin Lane. Police are presently investigating the new material- see the Guardian. ‘We should have a substantive response to our grounds of appeal in about two weeks time,’ Maslen says; adding that there should be a hearing at the court of appeal some time in December.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award