Violence-Restraining-Order

How a Violence Restraining Order Can Help You

We often hear in the media news about people taking out a violence restraining order (VRO) against someone they fear is going to harm them.  To do this they have to apply to a court for the order and the police are the ones who serve it – or give it – to the person who is being violent or aggressive.  Often it is taken out by a spouse or de-facto against her partner – or in some cases – his partner.

While it doesn’t stop them from harming the person if they really want to, there are penalties for breaking the VRO. This can be enough to stop them from frightening or threatening someone where their action is not enough to bring a legal punishment against them. Sometimes people get so bitter and angry they act in ways that are stupid and not really what they are usually like.

How to Get Legal Aid if You are a Minor

Being arrested is often frightening, especially if you don’t know exactly what is happening or why. In Western Australia, if you are arrested for an offence and you are a minor, you can get legal aid from the government’s Youth Law Team. There are a team of criminal lawyers who can help you with advice or help you if you’ve been arrested and have to appear in court.

Everyone has certain rights, even if they are a convicted criminal. If you are a minor, you have just as much right as anyone else to be represented in court, not to mention the right to remain silent or only answer police questions with a lawyer present.

If you don’t know who to turn to, these lawyers will help you with

Sleeping-Lawyer

Court Rules Sleeping Lawyer Violated Defendant’s Right to a Fair Trial

Texas murder convict Calvin Burdine came within hours of execution in August of 1987, despite having had a lawyer who slept for periods of up to ten minutes throughout the trial. Fortunately, the court granted him a stay of execution, and Burdine appealed his conviction on the grounds that his public defense attorney, Joe Cannon, had fallen short of the adequate counsel provided for by the Sixth Amendment.

Evidence-Preservation

The Case for Evidence Preservation

This week Rolando Cruz celebrated the 13th anniversary of his exoneration from Illinois’ death row. Cruz was wrongfully convicted in 1983 due in large part to a co defendant’s statements implicating him. Even though Cruz was never physically linked to the crime scene, DNA evidence did exist. With the help of a volunteer legal team led by Professor Lawrence C. Marshall at Northwestern University Law School, Cruz was able to secure DNA testing on the evidence found near the crime scene which proved he could not have committed this crime.

Crime-Labs

Crime Labs Expose Preventable Forensic Errors

Police crime labs in both Detroit and Baltimore have recently come under fire for shocking errors discovered in the testing, analysis, and use of forensic evidence.

Last week the Detroit police crime lab was shut down after an audit in June of the ballistics division revealed a 10% error rate in 200 firearms cases they reviewed. A fear that this error rate pervaded all divisions was the main reason for the closure of this chronically under-funded and over-worked lab.

The discovery in the ballistics divisions has put the integrity of all forensic evidence testing and analysis in Detroit at risk. And the ramifications of the lab closure could be far-reaching. Innocent people may have been wrongfully convicted from flawed forensic evidence leaving dangerous criminals free to commit more crimes.

Forensic-Science

Fixing Flaws in Forensic Science

In recent decades, the use of forensic science in criminal investigations has skyrocketed. In the media, TV crime dramas like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation portray forensic evidence collection and analysis as a flawless science that can quickly and accurately identify the perpetrator. Yet time and again, inaccurate or misleading forensic evidence and testimony has helped to convict the wrong person.

Dennis Fritz and Ron Williamson were convicted of a crime they didn’t commit based on microscopic hair comparison – a notoriously unreliable forensic test. Williamson was sent to death row and Fritz spent a decade in prison before DNA testing proved their innocence. Brandon Moon, another innocent man, went to prison for seventeen years after a state forensic crime lab analyst gave erroneous testimony at his trial.

post-conviction-DNA-testing

Post-Conviction DNA Testing Shouldn’t Depend on Miracles

By now everyone knows that DNA testing is a powerful scientific tool for proving guilt or innocence in our criminal justice system. Often post-conviction DNA testing provides the only evidence that can correct the injustice of wrongful conviction.

But what if all the biological evidence is destroyed while you’re still in prison? What if there is evidence but it’s not discovered until after state-imposed deadline for seeking DNA testing? What if the state denies your petition for testing because you accepted a plea bargain to avoid a harsher sentence for a crime you didn’t commit? And what if you’re indigent and can’t afford an attorney to help navigate the complex legal and scientific issues involved in obtaining a DNA test?

DNA-Testing

Increasing Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testing

DNA is a powerful scientific tool for proving guilt or innocence, but barriers throughout the criminal justice system are preventing this tool from being used effectively.

Increasing Access to Post-Conviction DNA Testing: A Policy Review is a new publication from The Justice Project designed to foster a dialogue among policy makers and to help states implement better DNA testing procedures and practices. This policy review provides an overview of problems with current post-conviction DNA testing laws, offers solutions to these problems, profiles cases of injustice, highlights states with good laws and policies for DNA testing, and includes a model policy.

The-Justice-Project

A New Website for The Justice Project

Welcome to The Justice Project’s new website!

Along with a fresh, new look, this website has been designed to inform, engage and empower citizens and supporters of The Justice Project (TJP) as we work together to increase fairness and accuracy in the criminal justice system.

TJP’s website makes it easier to find important information about the primary causes of wrongful convictions and the reforms needed to prevent them. Through our Profiles of Injustice, you can read the true stories of innocent people convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Each wrongful conviction is a window into our criminal justice system’s failure to find the truth, and a reason to demand change.

criminal-justice-system

Introducing the Justice Newsladder

I’ve been engaged in social justice advocacy for more than 25 years. In that time, I’ve seen how important a fair and accurate criminal justice system is to our society. When crimes are committed, our system should determine the truth. Unfortunately, time and time again, the system gets it wrong.

Earlier this month, Glen Chapman of North Carolina became the 128th prisoner on death row to be released since 1972. The courts found that detectives committed perjury at Chatman’s trial and withheld potential evidence of his innocence from his defense attorneys. The forensic evidence was so bad that one of the two homicides pinned on Chapman may in fact have been a drug overdose. Chatman, who spent 14 years behind bars, was also a victim of bad defense lawyering.

Kirk-Bloodsworth

Justice Department Holding DNA Testing Program Hostage

The day President Bush signed the Innocence Protection Act into law was one of the proudest days of my life. The law, part of the Justice for All Act of 2004, included a new program named after me: the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program.

The program provides federal grants to states to conduct DNA testing that can exonerate the innocent and help identify the truly guilty. At the time, the program’s creation seemed a fitting end to a terrible chapter in my life, my 20-year struggle to prove my innocence after being convicted and sentenced to die for the brutal rape and murder of Dawn Hamilton, a 9-year-old girl I had never met.

Innocence-Protection-Act

The Innocence Protection Act Of 2004: A Small Step Forward And A Framework For Larger Reforms

Passage of the Innocence Protection Act in the closing days of the 108th Congress was a watershed moment. To be sure, the bill that finally became law was a shadow of the more ambitious criminal justice reforms first championed five years earlier by Senator Pat Leahy, Congressman Bill Delahunt and others. But the enactment of legislation designed to strengthen – not weaken – procedural protections for death row inmates was rich in symbolic importance and promise.

Writing in the April 2001 issue of The Champion (”Innocence Protection Act: Death Penalty Reform on the Horizon”), I said optimistically: “The criminal justice pendulum may be swinging back in the direction of fairness. The Innocence Protection Act of 2001, introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives earlier this year, promises meaningful reforms in the administration of capital punishment in the United States.” Four years later I’d claim that prediction was fairly accurate. While the reforms in the final bill are not as meaningful as I and others had hoped, the pendulum clearly swung. (Title IV of Public Law 108-405, Justice for All Act.)

Sen-Orrin-G.-Hatch

Statement from Senator Hatch on Passage of 5107

HATCH BROKERS DEAL AND DNA BILL PASSES SENATE
Washington – Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today praised the Senate’s passage of the “Justice for All Act of 2004,” to provide funding and assistance to the criminal justice system in order to realize the full potential of DNA technology to solve crimes and protect the innocent.

“After days, months and now years of hard-fought negotiations we finally reached an agreement. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is one of the most significant bills that will come out of the 108th Congress,” said Hatch.