The case review component of the Criminal Justice Review Project is driven by students, under the careful guidance of senior legal practitioners and scholars.
Students and scholars are drawn from a variety of disciplines such as law, criminology, forensic science, and forensic psychology. These multi-disciplinary teams work collaboratively on a pro-bono basis, reviewing cases where wrongful conviction is claimed. When (and if) the case is to be considered for an appeal or pardon petition, a Brief to Counsel to act on behalf of the applicant is prepared.
The Criminal Justice Review Project will normally consider requests from applicants to review a case when conviction has occurred, the appeal period has expired and DNA testing or other procedures may provide new evidence that leads to exoneration.
Screening and investigative process
Applications to the Criminal Justice Review Project undergo a four stage screening and investigative process and those stages are:
- Initial screening: To determine if the case falls within the ambit of the Criminal Justice Review Project
- Initial investigation: Review of documentary evidence
- Full investigation: Seeking possible new or fresh evidence consistent with factual innocence
- Preparation of brief
The case review component of the project became operational in February 2009. There are currently 5 cases at various stages of review and 40 cases pending review. New applications for review are received weekly. A number of applications will not fall within the ambit of the Criminal Justice Review Project and will therefore not proceed to an initial investigation.
What the project can not do
The Criminal Justice Review Project will not agree to review requests from applicants when the exoneration would eventuate because of technicality as opposed to factual innocence.
The Criminal Justice Review Project does not offer legal advice. Therefore, privilege, as associated with the legal profession, does not apply to materials forwarded to the Project.