In October of this year, after a number of news stories on shootings had been rolled around in the public discourse, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell decided that he’d better look busy.
So he made a speech. The gist of the speech was to suggest that maybe the state wasn’t preventing crime because it had, for mysterious reasons, decided to do everything it could to help hardened dangerous criminals to get away with murder.
Why the state should do this was left as a mystery for us to shake our heads over.
To solve this terrible problem he called together a group of worthies- The Balance in the Criminal Law Review Group.
Their Terms of Reference were:
To examine the issues referred to in the speech made by the Tanaiste and Minister for
Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr. Michael McDowell, T.D., in Limerick on 20
October 2006 affecting
• the right to silence
• allowing character evidence of an accused
• the exclusionary rule of evidence
• requiring the accused to outline the nature of his defence before or at
the commencement of a trial
• re-opening new evidence
• nullifying an acquittal where there is evidence of jury or witness
• “with prejudice??? appeals in the case of wrongful acquittal
• extending alibi evidence rules to other analogous situations
• allowing submissions by the prosecution before sentencing
• modifying the rule in relation to hearsay evidence
and any other proposals regarding criminal law, criminal evidence and criminal
procedure that may come to the attention of the Review Group in the course of their
examination of those issues and report to the Tanaiste and Minister for Justice,
Equality and Law Reform by 1 March 2007.
We already have a Law Reform Commission of course, but let’s leave that aside for the moment.
The McGarr Solicitors submission to the Review Group is now posted up on the website, for anyone who might be interested to read it.
I’d only add this rider, for Tuppenceworth readers. Let’s keep an eye out for how the results of the Review Group’s deliberations are reported come the 1st March.