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Miscarriages of justice: the uncertainty principle

Eady, Dennis 2009. Miscarriages of justice: the uncertainty principle. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

The thesis examines in detail the potential for error and distortion in the criminal justice process and the concept of case construction which may contribute to wrongful convictions. The effectiveness of post conviction procedures is then also considered. Three detailed case studies are utilised to illustrate case construction, post conviction issues and current social/cultural factors that may impact on miscarriages of justice. The thesis argues that the "Uncertainty Principle" permeates the criminal justice process such that wrongful convictions are an inevitable risk and moreover that, while there are certain safeguards that protect from some of the problems of the past, there remains a high potential for such events to occur. This potential is exacerbated by the current political "convictionist" rhetoric and policy framework and by trends and developments in the media world and the consequent social influence of this. Further concerns are expressed at the continuing reluctance of post conviction agencies, most notably the Court of Appeal, to fully recognise the risks inherent in the system. Consequently post-conviction procedures continue to function on the principle of finality within the system and prioritise the protection of the decisions of the lower courts. It is argued that the principle should not be finality but uncertainty and that the protection of the innocent rather than the protection of the image of the system should be the paramount concern. The thesis considers the often illusory nature of some of the principles of the criminal justice system and utilises notions of "magical legalism" (Cohen 2001) and other psychological processes that may be involved in maintaining the illusions. Some recommendations for change are proposed, focusing primarily on the philosophical change that is required to change the principles originally designed to protect the innocent from illusion into reality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Law
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
ISBN: 9781303214530
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2017 04:16
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/54837

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