Sunday, November 9, 2003

A Question of Innocence

Rubin Carter: Day after day, week after week, I would sit in that filthy cell, seething. I was furious at everyone. At the two state witnesses who lied, at the police who put them up to it, at the prosecutor who sanctioned it, at the judge who allowed it, at the jury who accepted it, and at my own lawyer, for not being able to defeat it.

Katrina Bolton: As nations around the world demand security and safety, the law and order drums are pounding. Our leaders promise to get tough on crime – to catch those who do us harm, and lock them away. But behind the law and order drums, there’s a new beat – an innocence movement – lawyers, academics and students digging through old crimes and proving the wrong person is behind bars. The movement’s already reached Australia but it started in the United States of America.

Rob Warden: It’s really amazing. There have literally been hundreds of exonerations in the United States. From our death rows alone in the United States there have been more than one hundred people exonerated and released today.

Katrina Bolton: Marvin Anderson, cleared of rape after 15 years behind bars in Virginia, Eddie Joe Lloyd, cleared of murder after 17 years in a Michigan jail, Dennis Williams, cleared of murder after 18 years jail in Illinois….the list keeps growing.

And the sight of innocent men walking out of prison is putting a blowtorch to the US justice system. Earlier this year, the outgoing governor of Illinois commuted the sentences of all 167 inmates on the state’s death row. Rob Warden has helped some of these prisoners go free. He heads up the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Rob Warden: The whole reform movement it driven by the discovery of these innocence cases. Here in the state of Illinois, we’ve been a little more active than most and we’ve had 17, and it’s literally almost 6% of all people who have been sentenced to death under the current law have later been shown to have been innocent. And of course we know that we’re only discovering a tiny fraction of all of the innocent people who are actually incarcerated.

Katrina Bolton: Three innocence-style projects, similar to those that have been so successful in the US, have set up in Australia. And they’re starting to take on cases. A few weeks ago, the movement’s international cause celebre, Rubin Carter, flew to Australia to give these fledgling projects some celebrity publicity.

Applause

Rubin Carter: I spent almost twenty years in prison. Two hundred and forty months, seven thousand, two hundred days, a hundred and seventy-three thousand and two hundred hours. And there were many many times when I was really frustrated by the law, frustrated by the slow pace of the legal system, frustrated at the high cost of defending oneself, and frustrated most of all by a criminal justice system that for twenty years would have tolerated the manipulation of witnesses.

Katrina Bolton: Rubin Carter sums up what this movement is all about. A young black boxer called "The Hurricane” – he’s within spitting distance of the world middleweight crown when he’s arrested and sentenced to three life sentences for a brutal triple murder he says he never committed. There’s an appeal, public rallies…and of course, there’s that song...

That's the story of the Hurricane,
But it won't be over till they clear his name
And give him back the time he's done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Bob Dylan - "Hurricane"


Katrina Bolton: It takes 20 years before a team of crusading citizens uncovers evidence to convince the courts what Rubin Carter’s been claiming all along – he’s innocent. Hollywood makes it a blockbuster.

Film soundtrack

I hereby order Rubin Carter released from prison henceforth from this day forward…


Katrina Bolton: The Innocence movement is propelled by success stories like Rubin Carter’s. But it’s also being propelled by DNA technology, and the alluring prospect of determining guilt or innocence once and for all. In Australia, Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison has been talking up the technology’s potential.

Weak NSW Government suspends Innocence Panel
The DNA evidence panel is under investigation and the New South Wales Innocence Panel's operations have been suspended and a review of how it works ordered.

Minister Chris Ellison: Well I think DNA has been the most stark example where technology and science can prove quite definitively that the person has been wrongly convicted. DNA has been a great step forward in the administration of justice. Of course it’s not only about convicting the guilty, it’s also about exonerating the innocent.

Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder

The DNA database is already being used to help convict the guilty. But so far, when it comes to using DNA to free the innocent, the wheels of justice are grinding much more slowly.

Weak NSW Government suspends Innocence Panel

No one is claiming the scale of exonerations seen in America will be repeated in Australia. But, equally, no one is claiming the justice system is infallible. [?]

[The claiming of the scale of exoneration cannot be seen in NSW because the Government only wants to use DNA to frame and convict and not to exonerate as seen by the weak NSW government suspending the Innocence Panel.]

Applause [?]

Rubin Carter: I am indeed honoured…

Katrina Bolton: And when he was in Queensland a few weeks ago, the champion of this international movement, Rubin Carter, was singing the praise of one of the women who’ll be instrumental in investigating claims of innocence here.

Rubin Carter: And particularly my dear and wonderful friend, the director, the executive director of the Griffith Innocence Project, Lynne Weathered…

Katrina Bolton: Lynne Weathered is also the executive director of the newly established Australian Innocence Network. She says only a small percentage of people in jail actively claim innocence.

Lynne Weathered: We’re not na├»ve enough to think that everyone writing to us is going to be actually innocent of the crime and we’re not saying that there are large numbers of people in our prisons that are innocent. [Why not?]

We think the system gets it right pretty much most of the time. [?We don't!]

But we have our own cases, known cases, of wrongful conviction here. So I guess what I am essentially saying is we can’t just ignore everybody’s claim of innocence because we think that some of those claims are, are false.

Katrina Bolton: Lynne Weathered says the legal system just isn’t structured to deal with claims of innocence once the trial process is over.

Lynne Weathered: What you have is generally a one-month time limit between your conviction and when you have to apply for an appeal. But it’s highly unlikely that any kind of new evidence of their innocence will be available at that appeal.

Experience in the United States has shown that it takes sometimes between four and ten years for investigations to actually uncover that evidence of innocence. So what you’ve got here is then someone who’s found evidence of innocence, alright, so lets say they had their appeal, they lost their appeal, they write to an innocence project or they have a pro-bono lawyer or whoever working on their behalf and they uncover this evidence of innocence.

What our current system says is you don’t have the right to a further appeal on that because courts have only jurisdiction to hear one appeal. So your option therefore you would think would be to go to the High Court. But the current interpretation of the law is that the High Court can’t receive fresh evidence. And so it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear appeals based on innocence, because appeals based on innocence will be based on fresh evidence of innocence.

Katrina Bolton: Lynne Weathered’s university project has volunteer students and lawyers dedicating what time they can to reinvestigating old cases. So far the only official body to review claims of innocence was in NSW, where it was announced by the premier, Bob Carr.

Premier Bob Carr: We will form an Innocence Panel comprising representatives of police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Privacy Commissioner and victims of crime. [No representation of ex-prisoners?]

We’re going to enable that panel to receive applications from prisoners who argue that DNA might establish a wrongful conviction. The purpose of the panel is to look at the material, to look at the claim and where it thinks the prisoner might have a reasonable case, to send that into the court system.

Weak NSW Government suspends Innocence Panel

Katrina Bolton: The panel swiftly ran aground. It’s currently suspended and a review into its operations is before the Police Minister John Watkins. He’s not talking about it yet, and no one who is on the panel is allowed to speak either. But the state’s former Privacy Commissioner, Chris Puplick is able to talk. He was on the panel up until a few months before its suspension.

Chris Puplick: The first I heard of it was when a journalist rang me and said, "did you know the minister for police has just answered a question in the parliament today saying that an Innocence Panel is being set up to review convictions where new DNA evidence has come to light, and that you as privacy commissioner are a member of that new panel?". That was the first I had heard of the process and I think probably the first most people heard of it.

Katrina Bolton: When news of the official panel reached Kirsten Edwards, director of an Innocence Project based at the University of Technology in Sydney, she initially wondered whether it would leave her and her law students with nothing to do. But she says that impression quickly faded.

Kirsten Edwards: A lot of people were concerned that there were a lot of people from the DPP, a lot of people from the police and stuff, and that it was under the auspices of the police ministry, which certainly was a very bad look in terms of talking to prisoners.

They’d say it’s run by the police ministry, you’ve got to be joking, and it was hard to assuage their doubts in those respects, although the list of people they created, I think they’re decent people, I think they’re all intelligent people, and I think they’re all fair people and I don’t’ think they were necessarily carrying the badge of their office in a particularly partisan way, but I couldn’t work out what they were supposed to do.

Police WarLords set to take over Sydney again


Katrina Bolton: Behind the closed doors of the Innocence Panel, even the members were struggling to work out how exactly the panel would operate. Former member, Chris Puplick.

Chris Puplick: The failure to have the panel established in a statutory fashion meant the panel had to make up its own rules rather than have the elected parliament give it the rules by which it should operate.

So the panel decided, for example to limit initially the crimes to serious crimes that came under the Serious Offenders Review Council. But it would have been better if the parliament had said: “these are the crimes the panel should deal with”.

Katrina Bolton: And there were other issues. Chris Puplick says the panel members needed to be indemnified, so they couldn’t be sued if they made a decision that was later overturned. And they also had to study up on DNA science and the workings of the legal system. All in all, it took more than two years from when the panel was first mentioned, to when it started taking applications. And then the bomb dropped.

Newsreader Tony Eastley

A man serving a life term for one of the state’s most notorious murders is again pressing for his release. And he has the support of a state MP. The case was the rape, abduction and murder of Sydney woman Janine Balding 15 years ago.

Katrina Bolton: Stephen Wayne Jamieson, one of three men convicted of one of the country’s most brutal murders, applied to the Innocence Panel. For Jamieson, the legal system has been made political, and very personal.

In 2001, special legislation was passed to make sure he and nine other men never get out of jail. But his lawyer, crusading MP Peter Breen, says he’s convinced “Shorty”, as he’s known, is innocent. Peter Breen was elected on a platform of legal reform. He first became involved in Shorty Jamieson’s case when visiting one of the other men convicted of Janine Balding’s murder.

Peter Breen: And in the course of our discussions, he said that, "oh, and of course Shorty Jamieson’s innocent you know..."

And I said - "beg your pardon, what do you mean, he’s innocent?" I said "he’s been convicted by a jury and he’s been in jail for fourteen years. How’s he innocent?"

And you know I was dumbstruck really. And so he said "well, he wasn’t there, the guy that was there was this guy Shorty Wells, you know. And when we were all arrested after the murder and they brought in Shorty Jamieson, we all laughed and said to the coppers, ha ha you’ve got the wrong Shorty. But the coppers told us they didn’t have the wrong Shorty, and consequently he went to trial and was convicted."

Katrina Bolton: MP Peter Breen. And a warning here, the next few minutes contain disturbing details of the case. Shorty Jamieson was not convicted on forensic evidence. He was convicted on the testimony of an eyewitness who said he seen him with the co-offenders after the attack, the testimony of a prison informant who’s since died, and the transcript of a police interview, signed by Jamieson but disputed by his defence lawyers in court. And despite the lack of forensic evidence, Jamieson was the only person convicted of anal intercourse with Janine Balding. He applied to the Innocence Panel to have her underwear, and swabs from the rape kit tested for DNA.

It forced the innocence panel to make a decision about one of the issues that divided them most – what to do about the victims and their families. Former Innocence Panel member, Chris Puplick.

Chris Puplick: It’s going to be very stressful for them, for many of them they will have closed the case, they will have affected some form of closure, and then two or three years later somebody comes back and wants to reopen the case. At what point do you tell the person who is the victim or the family of the victim, that you’re reconsidering?

Katrina Bolton: There’s an argument that Innocence Panels serve victims’ interests too, because if an innocent person is sitting in jail, the real perpetrator is going free – and there’s no way any victim or their family wants that.

But so far the only family that’s had to deal with the reality of the Innocence Panel is the family of Janine Balding. And Janine’s mother Bev doesn’t feel the Innocence Panel serves her family’s interests at all. She’s convinced Shorty Jamieson is guilty.

[So what? If she were innocent and locked up what then?]

Bev Balding: Oh I just think it’s a waste of money, a waste of time, I mean how many more trials and how many more things have we got to put Jamieson through? He’s been through so much, as far as I’m concerned he’s the guilty party and let him serve his time. He’s done the crime and let him serve his time.

[Just complete rubbish, they got the wrong shorty, why not throw here in jail for nothing, then what?]

Katrina Bolton: What if the DNA testing supported his claim that he wasn’t there?

Bev Balding: Well I think he should stay where he is,[?] as far as I’m concerned. How may more judges and how many more people have we got to, you know, bring into this to try and prove that he’s innocent. What’s he going to do – come out and commit another crime and kill another girl, do we want that to happen to some other mother’s daughter?

[Why would he if he was innocent that is not his crime or act, and the bloke who was involved in the crime or act, is living in the community and has done so for the past 14 years?]

Katrina Bolton: Do you think there is a place for something like an Innocence Panel Bev?

Bev Balding: No I don’t. I think you know, what goes through the court, there’s nothing new to come up with, he’s got nothing new, and why bring all this back up again?

[Well we do think there is a need for an Innocence Panel, and we don't see a prisoner or ex-prisoners' perspective here, do you?]

Katrina Bolton: Bev Balding, who’s daughter Janine was raped and murdered in 1988. Earlier this year, the Innocence Panel went ahead, recommending the new DNA tests be carried out. Shorty Jamieson’s lawyer, Peter Breen.

Peter Breen: And then of course we waited for the results and waited and waited and eventually the results came through simultaneously with an announcement that the Innocence Panel would suspended. And you know I didn’t even know that we had a result, or I didn’t know about the suspension either, except that the Daily Telegraph rang me and said "do you represent Stephen Jamieson?" "Yes." "Did you know that his case before the Innocence Panel caused it to be suspended?" I said "Excuse me ?" – they said "well Mr Watkins has published a press release and said that Mr Jamieson’s case before the Innocence Panel is a matter of great concern because of the effect on the family of the victim and as a result of issues raised in the Jamieson case that they hadn’t considered, the panel would henceforth be suspended. "

Katrina Bolton: All of a sudden, the situation reads very differently. The DNA test results showed evidence of two people, and Shorty Jamieson was not one of them.

So the Innocence Panel is suspended, but a convicted killer sits in jail with a letter confirming DNA evidence points to someone else. Shorty Jamieson has now got independent legal advice, and is seeking a judicial inquiry.

Katrina Bolton: The problems of the Innocence Panel go much deeper than one controversial case. Kirsten Edwards, who directs a university Innocence Project in NSW, says the panel fundamentally misunderstood the way DNA evidence works.

Kirsten Edwards: The way the panel ended up being run, kind of assumed that the way DNA evidence worked was you had a piece of DNA evidence which told you the answer, and the simple question was do you match it up to the prisoner and do you get a yes or no, and if it’s a yes they then stay in jail and if it’s a no we all go home. Now DNA evidence is so much more complicated than that.

Katrina Bolton: Kirsten Edwards says DNA rarely provides a clear cut answer.

Kirsten Edwards: Well it’s a piece of evidence, it’s just that. Sometimes it’s a really really valuable piece of evidence. Sometimes it’s a bordering on completely useless piece of evidence. I mean if you’ve been charged with raping your stepdaughter and she gets pregnant, DNA testing the baby, well obviously that’s going to blow the whole case wide open, it’s going to give you an answer yes or no. If it’s your baby, or the profile at least comes close to matching you, we’re looking like something that’s very close to important. And obviously so with rape cases.

But it’s also used a lot of the time when people find a coffee cup at the scene of the crime, or a cigarette butt, or a t-shirt, or any sort of biological trace of a person that’s left a crime scene and it links them to the crime scene.

But people might have many reasons to be at the crime scene. If you’re charged with murdering your wife, and they find a coffee cup at the scene of the crime with your DNA on it, obviously it doesn’t prove that you murdered your wife, it proves that you drink coffee at your house.

[That's if the cup of coffee wasn't planted at the crime scene?]

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering

Katrina Bolton: If you’re testing, as many of these cases do, tiny things, like hairs, saliva or bits of skin, investigation becomes even more difficult, according to Dr Jeremy Gans. He’s a senior law lecturer at Melbourne University.

Dr. Jeremy Gans: DNA profiling cannot tell you anything more about that bodily sample than the likelihood that it came from the person the police are holding in custody.

It cannot tell the police how that bodily sample came to be there, what the person that left the bodily sample there was doing at the time, whether they were there for an innocent purpose, or whether they were committing a crime.

So this means that in the case of a person trying to show that they are innocent, by proving that a bodily sample from the crime scene came from someone else, that person hasn’t proven that they’re innocent, all they’ve proven is that someone else was once at the crime scene.

Sound of machines clunking

Katrina Bolton: DNA equipment now routinely works on sample sizes no bigger than a full stop. It means that when you’re going back and DNA testing old evidence, it’s possible to pick up lots of DNA profiles. Dr Jermey Gans says that’s not always a good thing.

[Contamination past or present large or small is contamination isn't it? Therefore a false reading.]

Dr. Jeremy Gans: Well probably a rule of thumb of thumb is that the smaller the sample, the harder it is to work out how it got to be there, why it was there, and whether it is significant to an investigation.

If you have a massive pool of blood and you’re dealing with a murder or a very violent crime, then chances are that blood came to be there for some reason related to the crime, and if you rule out the victim’s blood, maybe this is the perpetrator’s blood. But if you’re talking about small samples, bits of skin, a little bit of hair, well those things can end up at particular locations for all sorts of reasons. The smaller they are, the more reasons you can think of.

Katrina Bolton: Does it mean also that it ends up drawing in potentially more people into a new investigation of why those people were all at a crime scene?

Dr Jeremy Gans: Well one developing area of DNA technology is the hope that police will be able to walk into a crime scene, point around some kind of scanner, link to a database, and immediately come up with a list of every person who’s ever been at that crime scene.

Now unless you’re talking about a very private spot, there’s likely to be hundreds, thousands of people who have been at the crime scene at some point and have left a bit of their body there.

All those people will automatically end up on a police list. Some of them will be police officers themselves, have been at the crime scene, were involved in the investigation.

Others will have obvious reasons for having been at the scene of the crime and can be ruled out easily.

And then there will be a mystery list which if the police are doing their job, they’ll want to go through one at a time to work out which of them could be the person that did the crime.

Katrina Bolton: That means that if you’re retesting DNA, a whole lot of people stand to be dragged in to a reinvestigation. And it raises the question of who should be told whose DNA profiles have been discovered. Kirsten Edwards, who’s been helping prisoners with their applications to the Innocence Panel, says it’s information that can’t be kept secret.

Kirsten Edwards: There a number of people you could say have a legitimate interest to know, but the primary one of course would be the prisoner and anybody else who is helping the prisoner, whether it’s a lawyer or a friend or an Innocence Project like mine or someone like that.

Right now, nobody’s told. The only people who are told are the Innocence Panel. And the Innocence Panel doesn’t, well, doesn’t even really exist any more. But there are some cases where people have been told, we’ve tested a profile, the profile doesn’t match you, it does match somebody else, we know who that somebody else is, but we’re not going to tell you. Have a nice day, yours sincerely the innocence panel.

And you can imagine the response that that’s getting out at, well amongst the prisoners who are applying to that panel. I can’t see on what basis you can keep that information to yourself.

Katrina Bolton: It does though start to raise some very interesting questions of privacy doesn’t it, when, when the DNA technology is so sensitive that you can come up with a profile who may have been the victim’s lover, sister, friend, all those sorts of people start getting drawn in don’t they, and known to the convicted person?

Kirsten Edwards: Well it does and, and these things have to be dealt with in a sensitive manner. But first of all we’ve got to think about what the stakes here, you’re talking about the possibility of an innocent man being in jail, and you’ve got to weigh up the privacy issues in that context. And obviously, I mean depending on the circumstances, if you’ve got somebody who’s been raped and you know there’s a semen that’s linked to somebody else, we need to know who that person is.

Privacy is routinely infringed in any sort of criminal investigation. Remember before somebody is put in jail, nobody’s privacy is respected, there’s no right to privacy against a criminal investigation. The question is now, what do we do post conviction?

Katrina Bolton: Inside one of the country’s high security jails, another prisoner with an application to the Innocence Panel has been watching and waiting. His name is Noel Han. In 1994 he was convicted of murdering a fellow worker. The victim was found dead in his home, seemingly after a fight. Hairs were found in the dead man’s hand. Noel says he had been in the victim’s flat, when two men burst in and demanded he leave.

Noel Han wanted to speak with Background Briefing about his experience with the Innocence Panel. But he wasn’t allowed. The Corrective Services Department, Corrective Services Commissioner and the NSW Justice Minister all refused to allow us an interview, although Noel Han’s claim of innocence is known, and his application to the Panel was not considered vexatious.

It’s left to his lawyer, Marina Voncina, to tell his story. She’s been a lawyer for twenty years, and runs her own busy law practice in Western Sydney. She says Noel Han has a compelling case.

Marina Voncina: Noel had been interviewed by the police a few days after the murder and in course of the interview he informed the police that two men had come to the flat while he was with the deceased.

Basically he was forced to leave the flat at that point of time and deceased and these two men were still in the flat when he left. Now he gave a description to the detective who was involved in that matter of two men. Basically he was asked to identify their hair colour by the detective, and he did, one of them being light brown and one slightly lighter in colour than that.

At the time he was interviewed by the detective he wasn’t aware of any post mortem examination by any doctor. He wasn’t aware of the hair fibres or anything at all that may have been found at the scene. So he basically voluntarily participated in an interview with the detective.

At time he participated in the interview with the detective, the detective was aware that two days earlier, the doctor who’d carried out the postmortem, had discovered on the deceased’s body, in his hand and in an area behind the back of his elbows, in dried blood, two different types of hair fibres.

Now Noel is an Australian born Chinese and he has straight black hair. The hair fibres found on the deceased’s body was consistent with the hair colour of the two men that Noel told the police had come into the flat of the deceased on the same day that the deceased was, died, you know, was found dead in his flat.

Katrina Bolton: So, hair fibres found in the victim’s hand clearly didn’t match Noel Han - the man on trial for murder. But Marina Voncina says the hairs were never shown to the jury.

Marina Voncina: To be convicted of an offence, the jury has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt, in other words, they don’t know any of the legal arguments that take place while they’re out of the room.

They don’t know the history, they don’t know any discussions by any of the parties. They only are limited to hear the evidence in court. Now the evidence in court did not bring to jury’s attention these other hair fibres.

It was discussed in court, the hair fibres, but they were never presented in court as exhibit for the jury to examine and to look at. What the police tried to indicate was that those hair fibres were probably picked up from hair fibres on the ground on the carpet.

But there were no photographs at all to show hair fibres on the carpet, and one would expect that if there were hair fibres on the carpet, that it would not have been limited to only to the blood that was on the hands and elbows of deceased, but other parts of the deceased’s body, either in his clothing or other parts of his body where there was blood.

Katrina Bolton: Marina Voncina wasn’t Noel Han’s lawyer at the time of his trial. She does what she can now, pro bono. She helped him apply to the Innocence Panel late last year, asking for the hairs to be DNA tested. Seven months later, Noel Han received this letter.

The Panel reviewed the final results of the search for the fibres (and) hairs identified in your application, at its meeting of 20 June 2003. NSW Police confirmed that these items were authorised for destruction on 26 May 1997, and were subsequently destroyed on the 31 July 1997. I regret that the panel is unable to assist you.

Yours faithfully,

Mervyn Findlay

Katrina Bolton: It was a devastating blow – and Marina Voncina says any chance Noel Han had of proving his claim of innocence, is gone.

Marina Voncina: If Noel knew that he had to continue to serve his sentence and even at the end of the sentence was found to be innocent, I think he could live, you know, accept that to a large degree, because at least his innocence would be proved.

The fact that he can’t even do that now, no matter how much time he serves in prison, at the end of the day, there is no way that he’ll be, you know, able to prove to everyone that he didn’t commit this offence, because his only chance of doing that is really gone because there is no evidence.

Katrina Bolton: Noel Han won’t be released from Prison until 2009. And he isn’t the only prisoner to discover evidence is gone forever.

Even today, everywhere except NSW, where there’s a moratorium, crime scene evidence is still being destroyed. [?]

What police guidelines there are demand that at the conclusion an appeal period, usually 28 days after conviction, evidence must be returned to its owners, or destroyed. In fact, in Victoria, keeping evidence can be an offence. [?]

Katrina Bolton: You’re listening to Background Briefing on ABC Radio National. Today we’re looking at wrongful conviction and the problems with proving claims of innocence.

Katrina Bolton: There has been an official review into what went wrong with the NSW Innocence Panel. That review had difficulties of its own. At least three key submissions were never considered, because the Panel moved offices and didn’t have the mail forwarded. But the review is finished, and it’s been with the state’s Police Minister since mid September.

There are a lot of people anxious to see what it says, among them, the Federal Justice Minster Chris Ellison. He says a national body to review claims of innocence is being considered.

Minister Chris Ellison: Yes we’re watching the progress of this project in NSW with great interest. This has been raised at the Standing Committee of Attorneys General and a working group is looking at this very question.

I think we have to have a considered response to this proposal and on a national basis, we would need to have the cooperation of the states and territories.

Katrina Bolton: Is there agreement from the states and territories now on some kind of body looking at post conviction review?

Minister Chris Ellison: Well there are different views in relation to this and that’s the issue. NSW is the only state that has embarked upon this project of an Innocence Panel and there has been as I understand it at the officials level, differing views in relation to how this could be pursued.

Katrina Bolton: Are there actually any states or territories who are opposed to the idea of a national innocence review body?

Minister Chris Ellison: Well we’ve not had, and this is something we’re looking at at the moment at the federal level, we’ve not had any expression of opposition to such a mechanism. The issue will be in the detail and how you implement it. But certainly that’s something that, it’s being considered by the Standing Committee of Attorney’s General and the Australasian Police Ministers Council and we’re looking forward to a report on that early in the new year. [?]

Crowd cheering [?]

Man speaking

The police told us from the start that they knew we hadn’t done it. They told us they didn’t care who’d done it. They told us that we were selected and that they were going to frame us, just to keep the people in there happy. That’s what it’s all about. Justice. Justice. I don’t think them people in there have got the intelligence nor the honesty to spell the word, never mind dispense it. They’re rotten.

Newsreader

Police forensic tests at the time also proved, they thought, that the men had handled explosives. It’s now known that someone who’s handled cigarettes can give the same result. But most disappointing of all, three judges of the appeal court threw out a similar appeal three years ago, largely because they refused to believe their system could be so corrupt, and so wrong.

Katrina Bolton: The spectacular exonerations of the Guilford 4 and the Birmingham 6 blasted open the British Justice System – forcing serious change, including setting up a Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body with powers set in law. It’s seen the convictions of more than one hundred people quashed. David Jessel is a member of the review commission. He says there was recognition things had to change.

David Jessel: The CCRC was really set up as a result of a Royal Commission, and the Royal Commission was set up because there had been so many scandals in high profile cases, and even the lawyers themselves decided to say, they came to the conclusion something really had to be changed in the system.

Up till then it was really a Home Office executive decision whether a case should be referred back to appeal a second time. But there were problems with that clearly. There wasn’t a great incentive by government departments to to stir up the waters of the judicial system. And so the Royal Commission that grew out of those scandals in justice, recommended the setting up on an independent body.

Katrina Bolton: CCRC member David Jessel says very few of the overturned convictions have been cut and cut and dried in scientific terms.

David Jessel: A lot of our cases have to do with other witnesses that weren’t brought forward, or mistakes in the trial process, or things like that, or forensics scientific evidence of a different sort, or medical evidence that was misinterpreted or you know was not adequately probed, that sort of thing. And so we go way, way beyond just simply the remit of DNA.

Katrina Bolton: David Jessel says if a system looks only at DNA cases, they’d be missing a lot.

David Jessel: If they were looking just at DNA cases, oh good heavens yes. I mean our experience, how long have we been going, about six years now the commission, have sort of opened a whole treasury of information about how when things go wrong in the criminal justice system, why things go wrong.

I mean we are if nothing else we are a wonderful repository of all the reasons why things go wrong and things will always go wrong in a man made system that is run by human beings and the criminal justice system is exactly that.

Katrina Bolton: In Australia, the focus is exclusively on DNA. And while it’s already clear that only a small proportion of claims of innocence involve DNA, Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison says there has to be a line drawn.

Minister Chris Ellison: Well you have to remember that you’ve got to stop somewhere. And the verdict of a jury is a finding of guilt, if it is a guilty finding. There are appeal mechanisms and our system provides for that. Now you have to have some finality. If you say well look, a jury’s finding is not as final as all that and even the appeal process is not as final as all that and anyone who says that they’ve been wrongly convicted we’ll fund at taxpayers expense to mount challenges, you then build into the system an uncertainty which does no service to anyone.

Lynne Weathered: What our current system says is you don’t have the right to a further appeal on that because courts have only jurisdiction to hear one appeal. So your option therefore you would think would be to go to the High Court. But the current interpretation of the law is that the High Court can’t receive fresh evidence. And so it doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear appeals based on innocence, because appeals based on innocence will be based on fresh evidence of innocence.

Katrina Bolton: It leaves people like George, out in the cold. George asked us not to use his real name. He’s already served his sentence and is out of jail. He speaking softly, partly because he’s afraid his neighbours will overhear. George used to drive a taxi, taking children to and from school – that is, until two of the children, first a girl, then a boy, accused him of sexual assault. George says the first lot of allegations were wildly implausible. And a warning - the case you’re about to hear contains some sexually explicit information.

George: She alleged that I took her to a house where there were seven men hanging around, with their, standing around drinking beer with their doodles hanging out. Now that’s absolutely bizarre of course but this house was allegedly only five minutes from her place.

Then I was alleged to have taken her and a boy to a house where there was another man and I ordered this man to rape her. And he attempted to, but he couldn’t. So they had to say that because the girl’s virgo intacto, despite the fact that I was found guilty of maintaining a sexual relationship with her she was still virgo intacto of course, because it didn’t happen.

But I was never interviewed by ‘em, never did any, was any attempt made to find this man. Now if I ordered a man to rape any of your daughters, do you think you might want to find that man?

Katrina Bolton: George says the second lot of allegations, from the young boy, were equally implausible.

George: I was alleged to have for example, raped him in the front seat of my cab by lifting him off the passenger seat and placing him on my, how do I say it? Penis. While I’m sitting in the driver’s seat. Now I’m a pretty big fella, and my stomach actually rubs against the steering wheel when I’m driving. Now it was just a physical impossibility.

Katrina Bolton: George went to trial and was convicted over the girl’s allegations, and then faced a second trial over the allegations raised by the young boy. An alleged attack in a graveyard was central to both trials. But at the second trial, evidence about that alleged attack came out that caused most of the case to collapse. George wanted his conviction to be reassessed, in light of what had come out at the second trial.

But the High Court refused to allow an appeal, saying what had come out at the second trial didn’t qualify as fresh evidence.

George now lives with the fear of being outed as a convicted paedophile. He’s desperate for a retrial and his case has been taken on by a University Innocence Project.

Katrina Bolton: With the Innocence Panel suspended and no plans for any review body looking beyond DNA, claims of innocence are being left to the crusaders. West Australian man John Button was convicted of murdering his girlfriend Rosemary more than thirty years ago. Once out of jail, he still wanted to clear his name.

John Button: I think the whole world turned against me. I had no friends. Nobody wanted to know me, so from that point I wanted to get my story out and allow the world to see what had really happened.

Katrina Bolton: John Button managed to get former journalist Estelle Blackburn to reinvestigate his case. She left nothing to chance.

Estelle Blackburn: So I read every single newspaper I read every Hansard, I read every law report. I read every file. I got hold of every single file I needed. Then I decided to find every single person mentioned in any of these reports or files.

It was a very long process. I started at the cemeteries. I rang major cemeteries here and asked when somebody’s funeral date was, if they gave me a funeral date I knew I could cross them off my list.

I started off at the electoral rolls of the 50’s and 60’s and compared them with current electoral rolls. I went through old telephone books of the 50’s and 60’s comparing all the old electoral rolls with the current telephone books.

I rang everybody with that surname around Australia, if I didn’t get a match any other way. And I walked up and down streets knocking on doors saying do you know where so and so lived 35 years ago, do you know who they married, do you know where their parents are, do you know where they moved to? It was a, it was a long foot-slogging exercise.

Katrina Bolton: Estelle Blackburn says the only brick wall she hit was the police officers who’d investigated the case.

Estelle Blackburn: The two people would not speak to me were the two police officers who gained the confession from John Button. Nope, no way were they going to say anything to somebody rubbishing around and causing trouble for them .

Katrina Bolton: What do they say now?

Estelle Blackburn: The same. They are still saying that he did it. And certainly there’s no admission of any wrongdoing on their parts.

Katrina Bolton: Estelle Blackburn’s crusade cost her her job, her share portfolio, and her house. And Estelle says she might not have succeeded, if the Police Commissioner hadn’t granted her access to official files.

Estelle Blackburn: But I do think perhaps the Police Commissioner in granting it really thought that what it would do would be to shore up their position. Investigating it I would find that they were indeed correct. And he had every right to think that, the highest judges in the land had backed up the police and said that they were correct and dismissed two appeals. So I think that he thought that it wasn’t going to cause any trouble.

Katrina Bolton: She says the police reaction now is very different when they’re asked for information about a case.

Estelle Blackburn: Now you have to and again I have other cases, you have to apply for it under F.O.I. But they can very easily say no to that, it’s an ongoing operation. Police files are closed to the public for 50 years. If they refuse F.O.I. which they can do very easily, there is no hope.

Katrina Bolton: Reluctance to ever admit the wrong person went to jail is a feature of justice systems around the world. Rob Warden heads an Innocence Project at Northwestern University in Chicago. He says despite the hundreds of exonerations in the US, proving innocence still takes years.

Rob Warden: There is tremendous opposition. Sometimes we can’t believe the lengths to which prosecutors will go to defend their convictions. Even when it seems to become absolutely obvious to everyone, they will fight to the last breath.

Katrina Bolton: Rob Warden says when DNA evidence is found not to match, the police and prosecution simply change their theories.

Rob Warden: We have a very famous case going in New York right now, called the Central Park jogger case. A young woman was raped and beaten senseless. they now have a confession from the man who actually did it. But a group of teenagers have been convicted of this crime.

The DNA exonerates the teenagers, implicates the person who has now confessed, and yet the prosecutor is saying well they must all have committed it together. It’s ridiculous. I mean there’s a great age difference in these people, this older man who actually committed the crime didn’t hang out with these teenagers. There’s no evidence that he knew them. And of course his confession excludes them absolutely. Those are the kinds of tortured excuses that prosecutors sometimes come up with to defend their convictions in these cases.

Katrina Bolton: When some is found to have been wrongfully convicted, there is the difficult issue of compensation. Right now there are no clear cut guidelines as to who gets paid and how much.

Lindy Chamberlain and her husband got $1.3 million, for her three and a half years in jail. Wrongly convicted Hilton bomber Tim Anderson got $100,000 for 10 years jail. And others have got absolutely nothing. And that can lead to unintended consequences.

Bernie Matthews was a convicted criminal who had served his time and was going straight, when he was arrested for something he hadn’t done.

Bernie Matthews: What happened I was at home and a taskforce called taskforce Magnum came to my home and arrested me. There were two detectives from Queensland and he showed me an extradition warrant and said well, you’re going back to or you’re going to Queensland over an armoured van robbery that occurred in 1990 and three-quarters of a million dollars was stolen.

Katrina Bolton: For Bernie Matthews, things went from bad, to disastrous. He was charged with three counts of robbery with violence, and three counts of attempted murder – enough to put him away forever. And he was alleged to have confessed all. Here’s what he says happened with the police.

Bernie Matthews: This Sydney detective came up to Queensland and gave evidence on oath, swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth then lied his head off.

Plus they had a criminal informant that also gave evidence virtually alleging that I’d robbed the armoured van and I had money and I had guns etc. etc. it was all lies but at that particular point in time, it was their word against mine, and they had the numbers on their side and they had the law enforcement numbers on their side.

Katrina Bolton: A stroke of luck stopped Bernie Matthews from spending the rest of his life in jail. Two men were arrested for a series of armoured van robberies, including the one Bernie Matthews had allegedly confessed to.

Bernie Matthews was freed, but getting any compensation for the year he’d spent in jail was to prove a lot harder. And after five years of being shuttled between one jurisdiction and another, Bernie Matthews snapped, and figured if the system wasn’t going to help him, he’d take on the system. He went out and robbed a bank.

Bernie Matthews: It was a National Australia Bank in the heart of Brisbane, there was another guy with me, ah we took over the whole bank ah, and we took the vault as well. Unfortunately we robbed the bank on the day that the, it’s National Police Remembrance Day. So when we run out of the bank and we gone to get changed, about 30,000 coppers are falling out of the sky, because they’re marching in the next street when the alarm went up.

Katrina Bolton: Fortunately for Bernie Matthews, the judge deducted the time he’d wrongfully spent in jail off his new sentence for robbing the bank.

And while there’s a lighter side to his case, most of the claims of wrongful conviction concern horrendous crimes – rapes, murders, and even serial murders. Dealing with them is inherently uncomfortable.

It’s a critical time for addressing claims our justice system got it wrong. A national innocence body is being considered and the review of the now suspended NSW Innocence Panel is due for release any day. Kirsten Edwards, director of the UTS innocence project, says this is one issue that can’t be left to slip away.

Kirsten Edwards: What we need first of all is a legislative framework with respect to DNA and other biological evidence which sorts the whole thing out. And we need that done quickly. It’s not good enough to have endless promises, endless reviews, endless commissions making endless inquiries. We need something right now, because we’re dealing with people that want to get out of jail, right now. And that legislation needs to say, DNA evidence, we’ve got to keep it, you can’t just chuck it away.

If you want to access it, this is where it’s going to be, this is how you get hold if it, this is how you can test it. And make that transparent, make that accountable, make that something that anybody can follow, and put it down in law, so that if people if they don’t follow it, there are sanctions.

With respect to people who are innocent who want to get out of jail, what we need is what they have in the United Kingdom. We need a Criminal Cases Review Commission, which is a one-stop shop where people get the DNA evidence, they get the witness interviews, they have the entire evidence holistically focused on together, and then they get that referred back into the court of criminal appeal, rather than parcelling off every individual innocence issue into its own separate area where it gets lost through the cracks.

Katrina Bolton: Linda McGinness is Background Briefing’s Co-ordinating Producer, Technical Production was by Russell Stapleton, Research by Paul Bolger.The Web Coordinator is Richard Gracia. Amanda Armstrong is this week’s Executive Producer. I’m Katrina Bolton. And you’re listening to Radio National.

ABC: Sunday 9 November 2003

Related DNA Links Updated 2009:

Military lawyers await probe on DNA tampering
The Army's Criminal Investigation Command said nearly 500 forensic test results from all services dating back 10 years are under review after one of its examiners allegedly faked results. About 119 of those cases pertain to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes
Others have raised concerns about corrupt police planting DNA evidence at crime scenes.

Expert baffled by Falconio evidence DNA contamination
NT: The director of the Northern Territory's forensic science unit has told a Darwin court he does not know how his DNA contaminated a key piece of evidence in the Peter Falconio murder trial. [lost trial? After all he wasn't found?]

The ABC for good or evil?
He had a suspect that he wanted to find guilty based on the chances of a spouse killing a spouse which were greater in anycase, at least more likely than that of a stranger.

First Grabs To Control Our DNA
A small company in Australia has been subjected to gross denials of rights after DNA database technology was stolen from it's company. This one year saga has spawned them to form a new approach to projects of importance to all people.

Worries over DNA and racial profiling
UK: Black men are four times more likely than White men to be on the national DNA database and there is growing concern about racial profiling in criminal investigations.

Lab's Errors Force Review of 150 Virginia DNA Cases
US: WASHINGTON, - A sharply critical independent audit found that Virginia's nationally recognized central crime laboratory had botched DNA tests in a leading capital murder case. The findings prompted Gov. Mark Warner to order a review of the lab's handling of testing in 150 other cases as well.

Witch-hunt targets scientists
QLD: SCIENTISTS at the John Tonge Centre are being threatened with jail in the wake of a government hunt for the source of leaks highlighting serious problems in the forensic laboratories.

Fresh swipe at DNA labs
Scientist Kris Bentley, whose departure yesterday follows that of forensic biologist Deanna Belzer after concerns about "inaccurate" DNA results and unvalidated equipment, issued a scathing resignation letter leaked to The Courier-Mail.

DNA leads 'CSI' cold-case squad to first arrest?
Frozen case? I don't really know what to say about them until they come up with their case. They say it involves DNA evidence but that's the only stuff we know.

Criminal's DNA filed under relative's name
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for an investigation into claims that police have entered DNA data for serious offenders under incorrect names.

DNA fingerprinting 'no longer foolproof'...
The genetic profiles held by police for criminal investigations are not sophisticated enough to prevent false identifications, according to the father of DNA fingerprinting.

THE BUTLER DIDN'T DO IT!
PROFESSOR BARRY BOETTCHER: Now, there should be a law enacted within Queensland so that when cases come up like this they can be brought to attention and if an appropriate authority such as a judge of your Supreme Court considers that it merits further inquiry, an inquiry be ordered.

'Rape' officer clears his name
UK: A former policeman has been cleared of rape after protesting his innocence for 15 years. Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Brian Kelly, 47, had suffered a miscarriage of justice over crucial DNA evidence.

New unit investigates unsolved deaths?
A new police unit has been established to investigate more than 360 unsolved deaths in New South Wales, with many of the deaths dating back more than 30 years.

Prisoner's bid for review denied
Prisoner Roger Cheney has lost a Supreme Court action to have a judicial review of his 1993 convictions an 30-year jail sentence. Justice Shaw said he was concerned about the prisoner's claim that DNA evidence held by the police could prove his innocence. Although Cheney had requested the results of the DNA tests, he had been denied access to the forensic analysis.

QLD Prisoners DNA Bid THE curious case of Queensland's "cat lady" murder is set to test the state's legal authorities again, with the man convicted of the killing asking the Attorney-General to take the unprecedented step of releasing blood samples for DNA retesting.

Database clears up crimes?
NSW Police Minister John Watkins said at the launch of a Sydney conference of international forensic experts meeting to mark 100 years of fingerprinting in NSW. He said the collection of DNA from prisoners and suspects in NSW during the past two years had led to more than 5,400 matches on the forensic database.

A Question of Innocence
Katrina Bolton: The promise of DNA freeing the innocent as well as convicting the guilty has been repeated by politicians across Australia, usually while DNA laws are being expanded. The promise was made as a national DNA database, ‘Crimtrac’ was created, and it was made as NSW introduced legislation giving unprecedented powers to take DNA samples from prisoners, by force if necessary.

Mouse Trap Game? Tried Until Guilty!
Two New South Wales Labor MPs have strongly criticised the Carr Government's proposed abolition of the 800 year old double jeopardy rule, which stops people being tried a second time for the same crime. The left-wing MPs have branded the reforms as dishonest and unjust in a formal submission to the Attorney-General's department.

Weak Carr Government suspends Innocence Panel
It's a callous disregard for justice! The panel takes applications from convicted prisoners for DNA evidence to be analysed a move that may help in a future court appeal.

JUST BEAT IT! Govt lauds crime-solving technology?
The New South Wales Government says advances in crime solving technology are helping the progress of hundreds of police investigations.

DNA testing causes debate in murder case
The use of voluntary DNA testing in the investigation of a murder case in New South Wales has been applauded by victim support groups who are ill informed about the process said Justice Action's spokesperson Gregory Kable.

Abolition of double jeopardy law a political stunt: NSW Opp
Why draconian laws? What about the re-trial by media that goes along with it? Twice shy?

ARE YOU INNOCENT?
The NSW government has finally appointed somebody (Justice John Nader) to head up its Innocence Panel and has produced leaflets and forms for people convicted of serious crimes (eg murder) to apply for DNA testing if they believe it may help prove their innocence. You can get the info by phoning 1300 881 717 or writing to the panel at GPO Box 45 Sydney NSW 2001.

Is the Westminster System flawed?
Most people would say Lady Di got the boot and NSW has so much trouble getting the Innocence Panel moving. I said hey, what's going on!

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder Mass DNA testing of prisoners has led to the first NSW case of a person being charged with a previously unsolved murder as a result of a controversial gene-matching data bank. The Herald reported 25 Nov 02 "a DNA saliva swab led to the charging of a former prisoner with the bashing murder of a woman. Police had been unable to find any witnesses or suspects following the murder in Sydney's inner city two years ago. Detectives had admitted they faced a tough job finding the killer."

Prisoners can prove innocence for $20
Les Kennedy Daily Telegraph reported today that" Prisoners who believe that DNA will prove they were wrongly convicted will have the chance to prove their innocence for a mere $20 administration fee. The move comes 20 months after NSW inmates were asked to provide DNA for comparison with a databank of DNA from unsolved crime scenes for possible convictions.

DNA yours or mine?
Now they have isolated two genes that they say tells you if you're more likely to be depressed. What does that mean? It could mean that you should stay in jail because you are more likely than not to continue your offending behaviour according to a Department of Corrective Services Forensic Psychiatrist.

DNA = Do Not Assume - DNA Controversies!
The national DNA database of all known offenders proposed by Prime Minister Tony Blair could mean that innocent people will be accused of crimes they did not commit.

DNA Evidence of Bipartisanship
Last week the U.S. Congress passed the Justice for All Act, which includes provisions of the Innocence Protection Act. As of this posting, the legislation has not yet been signed by President Bush. Attached is an analysis of the legislation prepared by the Justice Project.

Murder charge first for DNA data bank link, but not the same as solving the murder As long as the the prisoners DNA wasn't planted at the crime scene. It is one thing to force prisoners to hand over their DNA and another thing to exploit it.

Related Updated 2009 Police Corruption Links:

The reckoning of a police whistleblower
A decade after crooked cop Trevor Haken rolled over at the Wood Royal Commission into police corruption, he remains in fear of his life and says he has been left out in the cold by authorities, having reached his used-by date.

Australia: Copwatch - pornographic emails
Copwatch -sexually explicit emails in Western Australia - Victoria cops ask for freedom to target Muslims - Former ASIO head says Victorian corruption now worse than ever - Coppers out of control in driving pursuits in NSW - Drink-driving copper 5 times over the limit in Tasmania - Fans of Ned Kelly fire 40 shots into a memorial plaque at Stringybark Creek.

Police drivers sneer at the rules
NSW police involved in high-speed car pursuits have lied, ignored commands to stop and switched radio frequencies to dodge official supervision while taking part in chases, internal service documents reveal.

Australia: Cops on Drugs
An illicit drug culture exists within the ranks of the NSW Police Service with young cops found to be taking speed, cocaine and ecstasy.

Victorian cops the most corrupt in Australia
A weekly round up of news on the cops. Former Australian Crime Commission Chair says Victorian cops are the most corrupt in Australia -- so they are given extra powers -- and so Melburnians can be patrolled by the army -- and have business deals with McDonalds. Top cops in NSW cleared after investigation -- but another one charged with child slavery. Western Australian police officer leaves the force under secrecy -- and Canberra hospital nurse tells the Federal Police to bugger off.

Cop Watch - The threat of privatised state power
Cop Watch will stay silent on proposed anti-terrorist laws and the arrest of peace activist Scott Parkin as so many others are writing about it, but a moment needs to be spent on private security guards - the private army of the state.

Cop Watch - Tweed Heads Terrorism brings town to standstill
Another terror attack in Australia brings Tweeds Heads (NSW) to a standstill - police brake speed limit to get footy player to footy match - woman ends up dead because of police failure, according to coroner - corrupt corruption commissioner might end up in prison - 14 year old girl gets locked up by police unlawfully - ex-copper gets massive $650,000 pay-out.

A copper's lot may not be happy, but it is certainly well paid
NSW Police to set up full time riot squad following Forbes protests - no one wants to be Commissioner of Police in NSW - no one wants to be a copper in SA - another copper rapes a juvenile - more secrecy bungles in Victoria - more drugs for the cops on duty - Justice Wood (former Commissioner into Police Corruption) says little has changed in 10 years - cops on corruption charges get stressed out and get compo.

Cop Watch: When permanent head injuries ruled to be reasonable force Former copper kidnaps and rapes 10 year old (allegedly) - Commission rules that police violence that leads to serious and permanent head injuries is 'reasonable' - more police lies on the de Menezes killing in London by terrorist police officers - NSW Police Association criticise A30 Opera House cost of policing - Victorian Police stuff up traffic tickets (again).

Cop Watch: No. 4 Terrorism in Ballarat
Terrorism in Ballarat - former Sydney copper sues the police after becoming drug addict - Victorian Police unlawfully releases 'up to 20,000 pages' of confidential files.

Australia: Cop Watch No. 3
This round-up includes: disgraced officers may get reinstated with back pay - more confidential information gets released into the public domain by police - body searching at the Sydney Opera House - and Irish police pissed off over WA police poaching campaign in Ireland.

Australia: Copwatch No.2
A review of what the boys and girls in blue have been up to shows that their respective juices have been stimulated by their ability to demand greater and greater police powers.

Australia: Cop Watch
The roundup this week - dodgy riot gear, shooting French photographers, senior coppers being 4 times over the legal limit, dodgy promotions in NSW, more terrorism powers in WA and drug-dealing coppers in Melbourne (it is alleged).

Assaulted, intimidated or harassed in custody?
"Then make an Apprehended Violence Order application against the police, says assault victim Ms Teresa Kiernan.

NSW Police Force: 2 dead, $1 million dollars to catch a thief?
NSW police have expressed concern about their response to the Macquarie Fields riots in south-western Sydney after a police pursuit that killed two young youths Dylan Rayward 17, and Mathew Robertson, 19 that went horribly wrong.

OUR STORIES MUST BE TOLD. THEY HAVE TO BE
On Sunday 13th February, a Community gathering will be held to enable all people to remember the death of one of our young Community members, 'TJ' Hickey.

Vic police chief moves to sack officers
The Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police, Christine Nixon, has moved to dismiss two police officers as part of a crackdown on corruption and says up to 20 more dismissals could follow.

Vic flop cop warns there's more corruption
Victorian Police Chief Commissioner, Christine Nixon, says Victorians should brace themselves for more evidence of police corruption.

Vic police corruption report tabled in Parliament
The Victorian Ombudsman's report on the Ceja Taskforce and drug related corruption in Victoria police has been tabled in State Parliament.

Bent police compromise Bulldogs gang-rape case
Deputy Commissioner Dave Madden could have compromised gang-rape investigation? Steve Mortimer resigned!

More NSW Police Corruption?
Line of fire? [Bullshit! Line of Lick Arse Noble Cause NSW Corrupt Cops] (clockwise from top left) Deputy Commissioner Dave Madden, Assistant Commissioner Peter Parsons, Superintendent Dave Swilkes, Assistant Commissioner Bob Waites and Superintendent Dave Owens.

NSW Cop suspect in murder?
A sacked Sydney police officer has finished giving testimony at a hearing into his corrupt activities over the past eight years. Christopher John Laycock was yesterday recalled to the witness stand at the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

Corrupt NSW police officer sacked
New South Wales Police Commissioner Ken Moroney has sacked an officer who confessed to being involved in corrupt activities over the past eight years.

Policeman draws blank on fake raids
A suspended Sydney policeman has told an inquiry that he has "little recollection" of the details of fake police raids he set up.

Officer planned to kidnap criminals
A senior Sydney police officer who has admitted taking money for tipping off a child porn suspect had also been planning to kidnap criminals and extort money from them, the Police Integrity Commission heard yesterday.

Police offer protection to family following gang rape allegations
The parents of a 14-year-old girl claim their daughter was gang-raped in Sydney earlier this year, and have raised concerns about corrupt policeman Detective Sergeant Christopher Laycock's review of the case.

NSW police prosecutor charged with child porn possession
A New South Wales police prosecutor has been charged with the possession of child pornography.

Police, teachers charged in child porn bust
One-hundred-and-fifty people, including police officers and teachers, have been arrested in what the Federal Police (AFP) describe as Australia's biggest Internet child pornography bust.

A corrupt way to treat the community?
I seen the police bleeding on Nine's Sunday program arguing that promotion should depend on how many crimes police have solved and not how many brains they have and that was coming from police commissioner Ken Moroney and Police Minister John Watkins?

Judges Blood Sample: After the fact of the fact of a hangover?
Lawyers say New South Wales Supreme Court judge Jeff Shaw should not give police his own sample of blood taken after he crashed his car near his Sydney home last month.

NSW police drug amnesty under review
A drug amnesty for the New South Wales police force is under review, Police Commissioner Ken Moroney has said.

Police to uphold law not decide mental health
A diagnosis of mental illness could be made over the phone instead of in person, and involuntary psychiatric patients could lose the right to have their case reviewed by a magistrate, under proposed changes to NSW mental health laws.

Redfern police need education not weapons
According to the description of one senior police officer, the ACLO called out on the afternoon before the Redfern violence escalated was "hopeless, intoxicated and had no driver's licence."

Bulldogs simply not the best!
SIMPLY NOT THE BEST AND DEFINITELY NOT BETTER THAN ANYONE, ANYONE I'VE MET.

Clive Small, NSW Inspector Gadget
NSW Police has revived controversial plans for a specialist discriminative squad to tackle the wave of violent crime that has plagued Sydney's south-west for more than a decade.


Jailed man's conviction to be reviewed

The New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal will today review the conviction of a man, after claims in the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) last year that police planted weapons and faked suspects' confessions.

Who is bad?
Super Rat? M5? M11? K8? N2? So I trust that some people who, with the photos and guns guessed that a jury would quickly establish a case against a profiled person whom, you just had a picture and a history of. Common knowledge? The government knew their victims would take the blame. Not just chess in court, 'moving around the pieces', but 'putting false evidence, or not enough evidence before the jury."

2,500, crooked detectives? Or a corrupt Government?
The Wood Royal Commission into police corruption. Where did the police learn their trade skills? Led by example perhaps?

How to become corruption resistant in NSW
Don't trust those who cannot prove themselves with the little amounts of trust you give them. Just because they have a letter of perceived trust doesn't mean they can be trusted.

This is not how you eat 'antisocial behaviour'
Process corruption, perjury, planting of evidence, verbals, fabricated confessions, denial of suspects rights, a solicitor to induce confessions, tampering with electronic recording equipment, framing. Generally green lighting crime, and I say Murder, including the kids who overdosed on heroin. No doubt.

Black Knight - Long way to go home
In line with the current climate of police corruption and the demise of the reform unit set up by Wood, these facts ought to have been a good reason to leave Moroney out of the package as Commissioner.

Bob down and sniff my arse
These are serious invasions of privacy and draconian laws? Where are our democratic soldiers, the lawyers and the barristers who need to take on the government in the courts? Are they plastic? Or to busy feathering their nests? Or have they been cleverly purchased by this black government. Drug test police and politicians, and have the tests independently accessed.

Come in spinner? Or Come in sinner?
"You don't have, in my view very vigilant processes. I suppose it's akin to the problem of corruption within the police," he told the ABC radio. " People say there's corruption with the police (but) do you get the police to investigate problems within their own ranks?

Deeds
I am disturbed by Governments 'actions' in relation to shuffling the police service. Clive Small seconded into Parliament like a cocky in a perch. A breach of the fundamental Separation of Powers Doctrine does not in my view allow the thought of intervening, planning, or shuffling to stack the deck of our police service. The one that suppose to be autonomous according to Lord Denning. Where the Parliamentary Secretary can ask the commissioner of police to 'report' then sack him if he is not satisfied with such report.

Prison Mind Games-Do they exist?
Directives are given inside the prison system that are not consistent with the law in NSW. And not in the good interests of the health and well being of the prisoners.

Truth
Who is telling the truth? Well I guess Dr. Ed. Chadbourne or Mr. Peter Ryan may have the answer to that. Dr. Chadbourne sacked by Peter Ryan and more specifically in my view because he elected deputy commissioners Dave Madden and Andrew Scipione as the best men in the service in relation to his qualifications to make a recommendation in his capacity as human resources.That is if you believe that a Dr. can be corrupted.

Honesty
What is happening between the Police Service and politics is quite extraordinary at the moment. If stand over tactics don't work tell half the truth honestly and follow the example of sheep. Another word for it is sleaze, yeah. Another word for it is workplace harassment. Another word for it is bribing a Police Officer. Another word for it is misleading Parliament.

Tele Tales
Most people I know don't buy the Daily Telegraph. Why? Because of the lies and propaganda purported by them.

Lord Denning
Interesting how a member of the Police Board Mr. Tim Priest would hold grave fears for his safety from dangerous senior police but fails to name them or have them sacked. Rather Priest resigns as if he had no powers. Could that mean what he was saying is that the Governments are also corrupt?

Corrosive
Clive Small is Bob Carr's choice for the new Police Commissioner. It could only be the case considering his, Small's special appointment into Parliament House. Small who suffers from the little person syndrome is the ideal bend over boy who gets shuffled through his corrupt actions. Rolling the legal system for him after the fact, just like his predecessor Roger the dodger Rogerson.

Black Nexus
The Separation of Powers Doctrine is nowcontaminated witharangeofcolours, now leaving us with a black shirt on a once blue bridge that crossed that thin blue line. The 'Amery and Woodham show'.

Same boat
The Premier, Bob Carr, relies on a militia. A gang of bikies and our Police Service, to show all of us he is no murderer. He should be taken to the task along with his partners in crime like Clive Small to account for those people who like my self have been maliciously assaulted and who have complained, without any service and those who cannot speak for themselves who were murdered, like Terry Falconer. Terry murdered in custody.

Good Cop
Why have our democratic institutions broken down? It's not just the criminal justice system. The Anti-Corruption Network webmaster@anti-corruption-network.org exposes the same issues. A group of white-collar workers who say they have suffered as follows:

Dangerous
I refer to the Daily Telegraph article 22 March 2002 under the heading Priest quits advisory job.

Partners in crime - history!
Roger Rogerson, the old hero, who never faced a result in the Warren Lanfranchi, or Sally-Anne Huckstepp murders, was let off in my opinion when the New South Wales Government rolled the legal system (deciding what evidence to give the police prosecutor) to have the jury believe the illusion they (the Government wanted to create).

Police Chronology 1994-2001
View events in the NSW Police Force since the Wood Royal Commission began in 1994. 1994 May Justice James Wood is appointed Commissioner of the Royal Commission into the NSW Police Service ('WRC').