The Greatest Miscarriage of Justice - Introduction

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Monday 6 April 2009

Perhaps Australia’s greatest miscarriage of justice is the case of Lindy Chamberlain. Dubbed the “trial of the century”, it saw an innocent lady charged, tried and convicted of the murder of her own baby, and then sentenced to life imprisonment. Furthermore, the subsequent appeals to both the Federal Court and the High Court of Australia failed to overturn the original conviction, and it was only after a fourteen month Royal Commission that she was cleared of all guilt or responsibility. The case then made further legal history when in September 1988 at the Northern Territory Supreme Court, Lindy Chamberlain, became the first, and to my knowledge the only person in Australia that has ever been declared (as opposed to presumed) innocent - a verdict is always ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’, never ‘innocent’. While the distinction may seem small, to my mind it has massive philosophical and theological significance, not to mention enormous practical effects on the laws of criminal procedure.

But the interesting thing about this case, is that apart from a few irregularities, her arrest, charge, trial, verdict, appeal and sentence were quite properly (albeit tragically) conducted according to law, that is, with correct criminal procedure.

Why am I writing about this? Well it’s a blog and I can write about whatever I want to, but in particular, I thought given the proximity of Easter and the unusual situation of having some free time on my hands, I would conduct a similar examination / comparison on the arrest, charge, trial, verdict, appeal and sentence of Jesus and whether his case was conducted according to law, that is, with correct criminal procedure.

So if you choose to follow along over the next few days, what you will find are some random comments on Jesus’ brush with the law, and a brief comparison here and there to the law of criminal procedure in New South Wales. And whether you are religious or not, I hope you enjoy the discussion of how a good (or bad) lawyer could have easily had the whole case thrown out several times over, and how this fact alone shows an appreciation of Jesus’ deliberate choice to go to the cross. The significance or insignificance of that last point I will leave up to the reader, but as always on my blog, any comments, queries, criticisms, or questions are not just welcome, but encouraged.


ampers said...

Cool, this series sounds good.

Lindi said...

An interesting topic for discussion, Andrew. I look forward to seeing what you (and others)have to say.

The Lindy Chamberlain case was certainly contraversial. At the time of her trial, I felt that, guilty or not, she should never have been convicted. The evidence put forward did not prove inconclusively her guilt.
After her conviction, a friend of mine was involved in her appeals. It was amazing what evidence had been ruled as immaterial to her defence, including people who were with her at the camp site not being allowed to give any statements.
It was a trial by popular opinion and political undercurrents, which which parallels the case against Jesus.

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