Anew centre for aimed to improve access to Criminal Appeals has been set up.
The Centre for Criminal Appeals (CCA) is a new “access to justice” initiative, currently in its start-up phase. Once operational, CCA’s mission will be to:
- work to overturn unsafe convictions by providing investigation and legal advocacy on criminal appeal cases in England and Wales on a not-for-profit basis
- share lessons learned from casework with criminal justice policy makers, the legal profession and the public, with a view to systemic reform
- A proposed not-for-profit solution to the shortage of legal representation on appeal
Whether you are a legal professional, a prisoner, a prisoner’s family member, a policy maker, a grant-maker or other participant in the criminal justice system, the Centre would very much like to hear from you,
Who is working on this?
CCA is being developed by its three Trustees, Vera Baird, Glyn Maddocks and Emily Bolton.
The Trustees in turn have the assistance of an Advisory Group, consisting of practitioners, prisoners and other stakeholders. The Board will direct the organization during its start-up phase, until the Director and caseworker positions have been funded and filled. The Board itself will be expanded and diversified once the start-up phase is complete. If you are interested in serving on the Advisory Group or Board in the future, please use the contact form, or write to CCA’s postal address.
Vera Baird is a Practising Queen’s Counsel specialising in criminal work. She was MP for Redcar between 2001 and 2010 and became a Minister in the Labour Government in 2006. In 2007, she became Solicitor General. In that post she conducted a number of criminal appeals and unduly lenient sentence cases and advised extensively on a wide range of legal issues. Her areas of legal work included all aspects of criminal law, equality and discrimination, public law, public international law, EU law, devolution issues, charity law and a range of others.
Glyn Maddocks is a UK solicitor who has worked on wrongful conviction cases for over 20 years. Through his work on appeal cases Glyn has developed a deep understanding and knowledge of the processes and procedures of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the Court of Appeal and in obtaining compensation for victims of miscarriage of justice from the Ministry of Justice. In 2005, in recognition of his work over a twelve-year period representing Paul Blackburn, who had his conviction quashed after serving nearly 25 years, Glyn was named Welsh Lawyer of the Year.
Emily Bolton was awarded an Equal Justice Fellowship and later a Soros Advocacy Fellowship to establish Innocence Project New Orleans (IPNO), a non-profit law office providing legal representation to the wrongfully convicted in the United States. IPNO grew from a staff of one to thirteen during her tenure, and has so far exonerated or freed 20 innocent prisoners. Returning to the UK in 2004, she helped develop the UK legal action charity Reprieve. In 2007, working as a UK solicitor, Emily brought a wrongful conviction case to the Court of Appeal via the Criminal Cases Review Commission, as a test of the proposed CCA methodology. The Court quashed the conviction in 2010. Emily is acting as Project Manager during the start-up phase of CCA.What is the problem we are trying to solve?
A person who has been subjected to an unsafe conviction typically needs a lawyer to achieve access to justice. That lawyer will need to re-investigate the case, seek new evidence, find out what went wrong at the trial, and present the case the Court of Appeal and /or to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).
Only rarely can a prisoner afford to pay for such legal representation. The public funding situation for appeals work means that private law firms do very little of it and then not as well as they would like. Prisoners approach law firms all over the country seeking help, but only rarely can they find it.This situation is well-known to legal practitioners but has recently been substantiated in a quantitative study. In 2009, researchers at the University of Warwick prepared a report to the Legal Services Commission examining the extent and impact of legal representation on applications to the CCRC and the ensuing outcomes in the Court of Appeal.
The study found that only a third of applicants to the CCRC are legally represented, but that applications involving lawyers were almost twice as likely to contain successful submissions. It also acknowledged that an unrepresented applicant is significantly disadvantaged when challenging a CCRC decision not to refer a case to the Court of Appeal. The study concluded that “there can be little doubt that such high quality legal representation merits the public funding which is provided.”
The Centre for Criminal Appeals (CCA) aims to tackle the shortage of quality representation in this area via a non-profit, specialized law practice.The proposed solution
The creation of a non-profit, specialized law practice, the Centre for Criminal Appeals (CCA), is a cost effective solution to the drastic shortage of quality legal representation for applications to the CCRC and the Court of Appeal.Objectives
- Providing high quality legal representation in cases of unsafe conviction in England and Wales
- Developing precedent and providing input for policy development and legislation, where successful appeals suggest avenues for improving the criminal justice system
- Sharing lessons learned with the legal professionStrategy
- Deployment of a highly refined and rigorous case review management system to guide case investigation and advocacy
- Building capacity and ensuring sustainability via the development of both public and private revenue streams
- Working in partnership with other stakeholders in the system, including non governmental organizations, legal professionals and the relevant public institutions
- A focus on seeking new evidence rather than just sifting the old
- Systematic and thoroughly documented case screening and review system
- Development of diverse revenue streams
- Working in partnership with stakeholdersStructure
- CCA is a charitable company limited by guarantee. Once operational, CCA will consist of a team of investigators and lawyers dedicated solely to criminal appeals. The CCA team will develop highly specialized expertise in the area of case screening and appeals investigation and litigation.
- CCA will work with partners around the country, including its prisoner beneficiaries, their families, and the other organizations working in this area.
- CCA has received start-up funding from Unltd*, and is in the process of making funding applications to a range of UK grant-makers.
- CCA will use private funding to underwrite a pilot period of casework, which, if successful, will then be used as evidence for a bid for public fundingEnd of Bulletin
Source for this message:Centre for Criminal Appeals