The End of Double Jeopardy *

Wise Up Journal
27.06.2008
By Greg O’Brien

With NO riots in the streets and NO headlines in the media!

Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform announced this week a bill to abolish the long practice of double jeopardy, where a person, once acquitted, could not be tried again and again for the same offence. Nobody took notice. It was once again brought in through stealth, and under the guise of popular legislation. There were NO riots on the streets, NO headlines in the media, NO highlight of the issue by our Public Service Broadcaster, just business as usual.

Press release to abolish Double Jeopardy:

[Bolded emphasis by author.]

“Dermot Ahern announces Justice for Victims Initiative

Major New Legislative Package on the Way

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D. today announced a major new initiative for victims of crime entitled the Justice for Victims Initiative.

The Initiative includes important legislative features including:

· A new groundbreaking Bill addressing Justice for Victims of Crime to be drafted, and presented, to the Oireachtas early next year. This Bill, which will be a substantial piece of legislative reform, will contain measures to:

· Reform the victim impact statement mechanism in order to grant victim status to next of kin in homicide cases.

· Introduce new mechanisms to deal with an acquittal where compelling evidence of guilt emerges after the acquittal.

· Enable cases to be re-opened where an acquittal arises from an error in law by a Judge.

· Provide for new prosecutions where there is evidence that the original acquittal was tainted by interference with the trial process, including intimidation of witnesses.

· Introduce measures to restrict unjustified and vexatious imputations at trial against the character of a deceased or incapacitated victim or witness.

In addition to these legislative proposals, the Minister has announced a series of administrative moves to increase supports to victims. These include:

· The establishment of a New Executive Office of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to support crime victims, focusing on the co-ordination of delivery of services.

· A reconstituted Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime - with a role to distribute funding to groups working with crime victims, as well as providing general oversight of services and promoting awareness.

· A Victims of Crime Consultative Forum, representing victims’ interests, which will liaise with the Commission.

The Minister announced the new Initiative at the publication of a new framework document prepared by the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime, the recommendations of which the Minister said he intends to implement.”

Let’s take a look at what this Commission actually recommended to find the source for this legislation. In March, 2005 the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform established the Commission for the Support of Victims of Crime with a remit to:

a) to devise an appropriate framework for victims of crime into the future

and

b) disburse funding for victim support measures.

5.1 Research Findings - Main Points

The research was conducted with groups that word with and support victims of crime.

The main findings were:

  1. That while there are more and more organisations/services supporting victims the perception is that little has been done for victims and victims’ rights.
  2. Concern about the adequacy of support services and the consistency of supports.
  3. That more could be done within the criminal justice system to support victims and to improve the experience of interacting with the system.
  4. Those interviewed felt there should be an enforceable charter and a national agency for victims.
  5. The generation of ‘referrals’ and the impact of the data protection legislation featured as problems for NGOs {Prior to this legislation Gardai could pass the name of a victim to a Victim Support organization without needing the consent of the victim.}*
  6. That more training should be given to Gardai and Courts personnel, including the Judiciary.
  7. That our legal system does not recognise the victim as a player was also highlighted
  8. The issue of compensation /expenses for victims
  9. Secondary victimisation experience (i.e. a feeling of again being assaulted/violated) while interacting with the Gardai and legal system was highlighted by NGOs as an issue for victims

The Minister also stated, “It is my intention to have this legislation published in the Spring. The legislation will take account of several recommendations in the 2007 Report of the Balance in the Criminal Law Review Group.”

What did The Review Group have to says about Nullifying acquittals:

“The Review Group considers that there are clear advantages to the creation of a statutory mechanism for review of improperly achieved acquittals. Such a mechanism would in the first instance correct a miscarriage of justice which has improperly resulted in the acquittal of an accused person. Such a mechanism would also provide a much more significant deterrent to the improper behaviour of defendants who interfere with the trial process than would be provided by the alternative possibility of prosecution for a free standing offence of perverting the course of justice or contempt of court. And thirdly, such a procedure would enhance confidence in the courts system and ensure the integrity of trials so far as that can be achieved.

Most of the objections that could be considered to ‘with prejudice’ appeals generally would also apply to a mechanism for review of a verdict which has been arrived at following interference with the trial process. The Review Group has carefully considered all of these objections, as set out in an earlier section of this report, and takes the view that none of them are convincing. Again, we consider that any such appeal should be to the Supreme Court.

In addition to those objections, however, the case of review of a verdict arrived at following interference with the trial process does involve the additional factor that in this case, the Director would be seeking to interfere with what would ostensibly be a decision by a jury on the merits. However, for the reasons 213 outlined by Walsh J. in O’Shea, there is no public interest in preserving as inviolable a jury verdict which has been tainted by interference with the trial process. Instead the overwhelming public interest is in ensuring that criminal trials are conducted, in the words of Article 38.1 of the Constitution “i due course of law.” For the reasons outlined by Walsh J., the Review Group considers that there can be no fundamental constitutional or principled objection to revisiting jury acquittals which were brought about by or influenced by interference of an unlawful kind with the trial process.

Options for Change
The Review Group has considered a number of possible options for a statutory provision dealing with this issue. In particular the Review Group has considered the following:-

Issue 1: Whether review should be permitted where there is evidence of interference with the jury, with witnesses, or with evidence or other aspects of the trial, or in all such circumstances.

Issue 2: Whether the review should be permitted in cases of intimidation only, or also where there is bribery or any other form of corruption or unlawful interference.

Issue 3: Whether the standard of review should be reasonable possibility, probability or compelling evidence of interference with the trial process, or whether the legislation should merely provide for the evidence to be such as to be sufficient in the opinion of the Supreme Court to warrant a quashing of the acquittal.

The Review Group has considered these options carefully. We consider that review of acquittals should be available in the event of interference with the trial process, whether in respect of the jury or otherwise. The Supreme Court would have to be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence warranting a quashing of the acquittal.”

We have been duped, once again, by our Rogue Government. This time to bring an end to double jeopardy by sinister means.

Once again they have used NGOs and other bodies to bring in prohibitive legislation.

Once again they have used the same modus operandi of using isolated incidents, in this case intimidation of witnesses, to further restrict the masses.

Once again they have ignored the criticisms against our judiciary and the government apparatus.

Once again YOU pay the price and are subject to the full rigors of the law while those at the top get away with murder.

Once again the people just sit back and take it, one more liberty taken away, while they are distracted by mindless entertainment.

Once again future generations will have to suffer the consequences of our apathy, our lack of discernment and our willingness to sit back while we are heading into a fascist dictatorship by a rogue government.

Remarks by the Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) in Limerick - 20th October, 2006:

“I am strongly committed to our system of open trial, to our system of jury trial, to adversarial trial in which evidence is tested in front of the jury, and where the role of the judge is to ensure a fair and impartial trial process, not to act as inquisitor.

I am equally convinced that the burden of proof must generally lie on the prosecution and that proof must be of a standard beyond reasonable doubt. But the constitutional right to trial by jury and to trial in due course of law exists to serve the common good, not as an end in itself.”

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said the changes proposed by the Minister would reduce the rights of those accused of crimes without improving life for victims. “It is a fallacy that taking liberties from accused persons can enhance the lives of victims. If the Government is genuinely interested in advancing the situation of victims then it must adopt a rights-based approach, including a statutory charter for victims of crime,” said ICCL director Mark Kelly.

“Instead, Minister Ahern has chosen to market as ‘pro-victim’ a series of half-baked measures limiting the rights of accused persons. Victims deserve a far better deal than this,” he added.

End of Nations - EU Takeover and the Lisbon Treaty