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- Sep 20, 2018
- SLU Posts
Cardinal George Pell freed as child abuse conviction is quashed Bernard Lagan, Sydney Tuesday April 07 2020, 9.00am, The Times Cardinal Pell said that he had suffered “a serious injustice” CON CHRONIS...
Seems to me that, while in principle I don't much like superior courts second-guessing the trial jury's decision, that's the way it works in Australia, so we have to accept that Cardinal Pell was the victim of a serious miscarriage of justice.Australia’s highest court has freed Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s former number three, after finding reasonable doubt that he molested choirboys in Melbourne in the 1990s.
The unanimous decision of the seven judges of the High Court shocked child sexual abuse campaigners and critics of the church.
The convictions were upheld on appeal to the highest court in the state of Victoria but that decision was overturned by the High Court of Australia in a summary judgment issued this morning.
The High Court found that there was a “significant possibility” that an innocent person had been convicted. “The jury, acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted,” it said
ETA: The reason I'm unhappy about overturning the jury's decision is that, at least in British law, the defence can make submissions when the prosecution finishes presenting its case that there's no case to answer since a reasonable jury, properly directed, could not properly convict on the basis of the evidence presented by the prosecution.
However, after that decision has been taken then, unless something unexpected happens -- important new evidence emerges, the judge makes a serious error in law when directing the jury, that sort of thing -- then if the jury returns a guilty verdict that's it.
"The conviction is unsafe because the jury were wrongly told that...." or "because they didn't know that ..." are good reasons for overturning a verdict and ordering a retrial, but "because we think the jury got it wrong" isn't .