26 September 2023

JACS invites feedback over appeal laws

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The Justice and Community Safety Directorate is calling for feedback on proposed reforms to allow a person convicted of a crime appeal if fresh and compelling evidence comes to light.

Opening consultation on the Directorate’s Wrongful conviction: Reforms to the right to appeal and right to compensation discussion paper, Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury said the ACT’s justice system should evolve in the interest of ensuring justice was served and innocent people were not imprisoned.

“There are occasions when new, significant evidence comes to light that sheds light on a criminal matter and could show that an imprisoned person is actually innocent of a crime,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“However, currently, once a person has exhausted their appeal rights under ACT law they cannot appeal again, even if new evidence emerges which may lead to an acquittal later,” he said.

“There is no accessible, court-based mechanism for a person to appeal in these circumstances.”

Mr Rattenbury said current legislation didn’t allow the ACT Government to order an inquiry into a conviction on its own initiative, or the Supreme Court to order an inquiry.

The Attorney-General said the proposed model offered a more transparent and independent process that focused on the court assessing the evidence.

“The ACT’s justice system should evolve to provide people in the ACT with this appeal right, in the interest of ensuring justice is served and innocent people are not imprisoned.”

He said the Discussion Paper also explored how compensation should be determined for someone who was wrongfully convicted of a crime.

Mr Rattenbury encouraged Canberrans to have their say on the proposed reforms before 18 May.

The Directorate’s 22-page Discussion Paper can be accessed at this PS News link.

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