Teina Pora decision shows need for review

04 March 2015

The Privy Council's upholding of the Teina Pora appeal is further evidence NZ needs a Criminal Cases Review Panel, says the Dean of UC's School of Law.

The Privy Council’s upholding of the Teina Pora appeal is further evidence New Zealand needs a Criminal Cases Review Panel, Dean of the University of Canterbury’s School of Law, Associate Professor Chris Gallavin says.

If for no other reason the Government would likely save money through the establishment of such a panel as these high profile defeats are extremely expensive and ultimately damaging to the reputation of our justice system,” he says.

“Former Justice Minister Judith Collins rejected calls for the establishment of a Criminal Cases Review Panel saying that the current legal appeal process provided adequate protection against miscarriages taking place.

“Yes, appeals up through the system are a good mechanism for ensuring miscarriages are avoided but it is not adequate by itself.”

A Criminal Cases Review Commission was established in the United Kingdom in 1997 in recognition of the fact that miscarriages do happen and are typically of a nature that requires a more in-depth and independent analysis from that which can be conducted by a court on appeal. The UK example illustrates a clear need with over 18,500 applications for review having been filed with the Commission.

“The Bain case, the Lundy case, now Teina Pora and not to mention the serious concerns that still hang over the Peter Ellis investigation, trial and conviction and also the Scott Watson case illustrate that problems do occur within the system for which the process of appeal is not entirely equipped to deal with,” Associate Professor Gallavin says.

“Such cases are often problematic in terms of the theory presented by the prosecution, or the science behind the evidence – concerning both the evidence presented and evidence not uncovered.

“A court on appeal can only work with the building blocks it is given and often in these difficult cases those building blocks are broken or unnecessarily missing. In terms of Teina Pora the Privy Council has taken the remarkable step of seeking submissions on the issue of whether there ought to be a third retrial.

“In my opinion there most certainly should not be and the quashing of the conviction by the Privy Council should be deemed final,” Associate Professor Gallavin says.


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