Miscarriages of justice have been the focus of judicial and public inquiries in Britain, Canada, and Australia. The objective of Forensic Investigations and Miscarriages of Justice is to make clear that, despite the rules laid down by statutes and decided cases to ensure that criminal trials are properly conducted, there are many instances where those rules have not been properly applied. In all three jurisdictions, there have been cases in which investigations have fundamentally miscarried and where expert witnesses have given evidence that has been either fraudulent or wrong.
The book reviews how these problem cases are dealt with, and the marked differences between the jurisdictions in the procedures available to identify possible errors. The authors recommend ways to narrow the gap between the rhetoric of impartial forensic science and prosecutions and the reality of a growing number of recognised miscarriages of justice, emphasising that both forensic science and the legal system must change and seek to better understand each other.
In their study of miscarriages of justice in Britain, Canada and Australia, Professors Sangha, Roach and Moles identify recurring problems common to the experience of those jurisdictions. These include the use of preliminary tests as conclusive evidence, the failure to identify or disclose procedural errors in the use of scientific methods or tests, misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the significance of findings and experts going beyond their area of expertise or not explaining their findings or controversies and uncertainties in the science in a clear, impartial manner. They also note that experts have sometimes misunderstood their obligation of impartiality, have failed to apply the basic research methods of science and that judges and lawyers have failed to be sufficiently sceptical of both the science and the witnesses purporting to rely on it.
The Honourable Thomas A Cromwell, Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, The Macfadyen Lecture 2011, Edinburgh – “The Challenges of Scientific Evidence” – 2 March 2011
Comprehensive and groundbreaking… [A] masterly text which is certain to quickly become the primary reference point on the topic.
T F Percy QC,Wolff Chambers, Perth, Western Australia
In this impressive work, the experiences of Britain, Canada, and Australia are collected, compared, and analyzed by these eminently qualified experts. While the similarities are striking, the differences provide the authors with the opportunity to elucidate thoughtful recommendations that should commend themselves to policy makers in all three jurisdictions.
Indeed, all who are involved in the criminal justice system and the constant need to perfect it will profit from this book.
The Honourable Justice Stephen T Goudge, Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Commissioner, Inquiry into Pediatric Forensic Pathology in Ontario, 2008
This is the first comprehensive analysis to explore the underlying forensic factors leading to miscarriage of justice. The authors’ analysis underscores the urgency of systematic improvements to the resourcing and research base of forensic science and forensic pathology. It is an urgent call for a more ‘scientific’ forensic science.
Dr Michael Pollanen, Chief Forensic Pathologist for Ontario, Director, Centre for Forensic Science and Medicine, University of Toronto