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The Sellenger Centre Criminal Justice Review project

The Criminal Justice Review (CJR) Project is committed to pursuing the exoneration of those who have been wrongly convicted.

By identifying the factors that contribute to wrongful conviction, it seeks to facilitate law reform, equity and equality for all who encounter the justice system process. The project is driven by students, senior legal practitioners and scholars who work collaboratively in an environment that fosters integrity, respect, personal excellence and rational inquiry.

The CJR Project develops future professionals who are committed to the values associated with justice for all. The CJR Project is distinguished by its focus on preventative and corrective philosophies. Therefore, the CJR Project seeks to:

  • Correct errors (or facilitate exoneration in the event of wrongful conviction)
  • Prevent errors (or generate research that facilitates the process of Law Reform)

The research agenda of the Criminal Justice Review (CJR) Project currently comprises a number of projects:

Defence and Prosecution Counsel Understanding of Forensic Science Evidence

The criminal justice system has experienced a proliferation of forensic sciences which has commonly impacted on laws, case outcomes and offender sentencing.

The increasing ability of science to influence criminal proceedings offers an under explored area of social scientific enquiry. The meeting of three different modes of argument (peer-reviewed, scientific opinion and adversarial) causes one to question the reliability of the forensic evidence presented in courtrooms.

As scientific experts are constrained within the adversarial system and are unable to participate in their normal mode of debate, the manner in which questions are presented by prosecution and defence lawyers determines the content available to the court to judge. It is at this juncture a potential problem arises as a complete and thorough account of the evidence may not have been communicated to the court. This issue is compounded when counsel do not have a thorough understanding of the forensic science in question. Therefore, this research seeks to determine if the proliferation of forensic sciences has impacted on the training requirements of lawyers.

WA Police Investigative Interviewing

In partnership with WA Police, this research aims to determine the effectiveness of the current investigative interviewing training practices.

Interviewing practices in many countries around the world have changed dramatically over the last few decades in response to a number of highly publicised miscarriages of justice (e.g. John Button and Andrew Mallard) that were primarily caused by the use of trickery and deception during police interviews. In WA, this manifested itself in a review of investigative practices.

This research will examine the effectiveness of current training practices in reducing the use of trickery and deception and changing the orientation of interviews away from seeking a confession to the search for accurate information.

Criminal Justice Review Projects: A Risk Management Perspective

Clinical education for law students has long been an accepted and beneficial tool of legal educators. It provides students with the opportunity to apply and further refine their academic and practical skills in a professional context.

Although University based Innocence Projects adopt an equivalent approach, the experience of students can be different and has implications for risk management. This paper discusses the methods of risk assessment applied within Edith Cowan University’s Criminal Justice Review Project. It includes a critical consideration of student selection and monitoring, case management, case review and other processes that limit risks to students.

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