Miscarriages of justice
In the late 1970s I was unwittingly involved in the wrongful conviction of Charles Splatt for a murder in Port Adelaide. I was a public servant and a police sergeant asked me for advice about a crucial forensic matter of which I had some knowledge, but not much. With great reluctance I provided the sergeant with a formula that appeared applicable, but told him that I would not use the formula myself, and if called I would tell the court I was not an expert in the matter.
It turned out that Mr Splatt’s subsequent conviction hinged in part on the sergeant’s incorrect use of the formula. He had apparently told the court that he had checked his calculation with “an expert in the Health Commission, who agreed with me” – meaning me. I only found that out several years later when interviewed for the Royal Commission that recommended the conviction be quashed. Mr Splatt was released and paid compensation and the police sergeant’s career was ended.
My experience leads me to agree strongly with the authors about this matter.