Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SCCRC accused of closing ranks with lawyers in 'refusal' to investigate appeals over 'defective representation'

Something to hide as always for Scotland's legal establishment sees the curious revelations of "Defective Representation" being by far the most common ground for appeals against convictions, conversely though, seeing the lowest number of referrals for appeal ...

Some who have been before the SCCRC and those who study its operation now allege the Commission is unwilling to go against members of the legal profession who stand accused by their clients of "Defective Representation", and that the SCCRC itself is not sufficiently independent enough from the legal establishment to make proper rulings on such cases.

Well, given many within the SCCRC come from legal backgrounds themselves, and in the light of widespread public perception the Scots legal establishment almost always closes ranks to protect each other, there do appear to be sufficient grounds based on the released statistics and campaigns by those who have or are appealing to the SCCRC on such matters for a full independent inquiry into how the SCCRC has handled all cases, particularly those relating to "Defective Representation".

Rumour also has it the name a particular lawyer, identified in some cases currently before the SCCRC does crop up in several cases of "Defective Representation" .. the Commission being fully aware of this, but not sufficiently transparent or impartial enough to hold a proper investigation into matters ....

Quite clearly their most common ground is Defective Representation but their lowest number for referrals

Table 5 Main ground of review lodged by applicants (applications received from 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2007)

Main Ground of Review :
Number of Cases, % OF Total

Defective Representation 161 (18.1%)

Excessive Sentence 130 (14.6%)

Credibility or Reliability of Evidence 92 (10.4%)

New Evidence 83 (9.4%)

Unfair Trial 78 (8.9%)

Misdirection by Trial Judge 37 (4.2%)

Police Misconduct/Wrong Procedure 27 (3.0%)

Perjury 24 (2.7%)

Lack of Corroboration 19 (2.1%)

Human Rights Issue 18 (2.0%)

Other 180 (20.3%)

Now, from their Annual Report of 2006-2007 it is apparent they had only referred 2 cases from its inception in 1999.This means in 8 years they had only referred 2 cases for the ground they receive most complaints about.

A shocking statistic and proof something is wrong within the ranks of SCCRC indeed it points to a reluctance to investigate fully this issue.
From Annual Report

Table 6 Main grounds of referral in conviction cases (for cases referred from 1 April 1999 to 31 March 2007) see here : http://www.sccrc.org.uk/viewfile.aspx?id=295

Ground of Referral
Number of Cases. % of Total :

New evidence 16 (41%)

Change in the law 3 (8%)

Defective representation 2 (2.5%)

Reasonable doubt as to the applicant’s guilt 2 (5%)

Multiple referral grounds 7 (18%)

The remaining 23% of referral grounds comprised: change of witness testimony, disclosure of evidence, insufficiency of evidence, jury impropriety, misdirection by a trial judge, procedural irregularity and unfair trial.

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