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Article

Access_open The Common Law Remedy of Habeas Corpus Through the Prism of a Twelve-Point Construct

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 2 2021
Trefwoorden Habeas corpus, common law, detainee, Consitution, liberty
Auteurs Chuks Okpaluba en Anthony Nwafor
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Long before the coming of the Bill of Rights in written Constitutions, the common law has had the greatest regard for the personal liberty of the individual. In order to safeguard that liberty, the remedy of habeas corpus was always available to persons deprived of their liberty unlawfully. This ancient writ has been incorporated into the modern Constitution as a fundamental right and enforceable as other rights protected by virtue of their entrenchment in those Constitutions. This article aims to bring together the various understanding of habeas corpus at common law and the principles governing the writ in common law jurisdictions. The discussion is approached through a twelve-point construct thus providing a brief conspectus of the subject matter, such that one could have a better understanding of the subject as applied in most common law jurisdictions.


Chuks Okpaluba
Chuks Okpaluba, LLB LLM (London), PhD (West Indies), is a Research Fellow at the Free State Centre for Human Rights, University of the Free State, South Africa. Email: okpaluba@mweb.co.za.

Anthony Nwafor
Anthony O. Nwafor, LLB, LLM, (Nigeria), PhD (UniJos), BL, is Professor at the School of Law, University of Venda, South Africa. Email: Anthony.Nwafor@univen.ac.za.
Article

Access_open Correcting Wrongful Convictions in France

Has the Act of 2014 Opened the Door to Revision?

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden Final criminal conviction, revision procedure, grounds for revision, preparatory investigative measures, Cour de révision et de réexamen
Auteurs Katrien Verhesschen en Cyrille Fijnaut
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The French ‘Code de procédure pénale’ provides the possibility to revise final criminal convictions. The Act of 2014 reformed the procedure for revision and introduced some important novelties. The first is that it reduced the different possible grounds for revision to one ground, which it intended to broaden. The remaining ground for revision is the existence of a new fact or an element unknown to the court at the time of the initial proceedings, of such a nature as to establish the convicted person’s innocence or to give rise to doubt about his guilt. The legislature intended judges to no longer require ‘serious doubt’. However, experts question whether judges will comply with this intention of the legislature. The second is the introduction of the possibility for the applicant to ask the public prosecutor to carry out the investigative measures that seem necessary to bring to light a new fact or an unknown element before filing a request for revision. The third is that the Act of 2014 created the ‘Cour de révision et de réexamen’, which is composed of eighteen judges of the different chambers of the ‘Cour de cassation’. This ‘Cour de révision et de réexamen’ is divided into a ‘commission d’instruction’, which acts as a filter and examines the admissibility of the requests for revision, and a ‘formation de jugement’, which decides on the substance of the requests. Practice will have to show whether these novelties indeed improved the accessibility of the revision procedure.


Katrien Verhesschen
Katrien Verhesschen is PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law KU Leuven.

Cyrille Fijnaut
Cyrille Fijnaut is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Law & Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven and Tilburg University.
Article

Access_open Mechanisms for Correcting Judicial Errors in Germany

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden criminal proceedings, retrial in favour of the convicted, retrial to the disadvantage of the defendant, Germany, judicial errors
Auteurs Michael Lindemann en Fabienne Lienau
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The article presents the status quo of the law of retrial in Germany and gives an overview of the law and practice of the latter in favour of the convicted and to the disadvantage of the defendant. Particularly, the formal and material prerequisites for a successful petition to retry the criminal case are subject to a detailed presentation and evaluation. Because no official statistics are kept regarding successful retrial processes in Germany, the actual number of judicial errors is primarily the subject of more or less well-founded estimates by legal practitioners and journalists. However, there are a few newer empirical studies devoted to different facets of the subject. These studies will be discussed in this article in order to outline the state of empirical research on the legal reality of the retrial procedure. Against this background, the article will ultimately highlight currently discussed reforms and subject these to a critical evaluation as well. The aim of the recent reform efforts is to add a ground for retrial to the disadvantage of the defendant for cases in which new facts or evidence indicate that the acquitted person was guilty. After detailed discussion, the proposal in question is rejected, inter alia for constitutional reasons.


Michael Lindemann
Michael Lindemann is Professor for Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Criminology at the Faculty of Law of Bielefeld University, Germany.

Fabienne Lienau
Fabienne Lienau is Research Assistant at the Chair held by Michael Lindemann.
Article

Access_open The Right to Claim Innocence in Poland

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden wrongful convictions, right to claim innocence, reopening of criminal proceedings, miscarriage of justice, revision of final judgment
Auteurs Wojciech Jasiński Ph.D., habilitation en Karolina Kremens Ph.D.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice, their reasons and effects, only rarely become the subject of academic debate in Poland. This article aims at filling this gap and providing a discussion on the current challenges of mechanisms available in Polish law focused on the verification of final judgments based on innocence claims. While there are two procedures designed to move such judgment: cassation and the reopening of criminal proceedings, only the latter aims at the verification of new facts and evidence, and this work remains focused exactly on that issue. The article begins with a case study of the famous Komenda case, which resulted in a successful innocence claim, serving as a good, though rare, example of reopening a case and acquitting the convict immediately and allows for discussing the reasons that commonly stand behind wrongful convictions in Poland. Furthermore, the article examines the innocence claim grounds as regulated in the Polish criminal procedure and their interpretation under the current case law. It also presents the procedure concerning the revision of the case. The work additionally provides the analysis of the use of innocence claim in practice, feeding on the statistical data and explaining tendencies in application for revision of a case. It also presents the efforts of the Polish Ombudsman and NGOs to raise public awareness in that field. The final conclusions address the main challenges that the Polish system faces concerning innocence claims and indicates the direction in which the system should go.


Wojciech Jasiński Ph.D., habilitation
Wojciech Jasiński is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Procedure of the University of Wroclaw, Poland. orcid.org/0000-0002-7427-1474

Karolina Kremens Ph.D.
Karolina Kremens is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Procedure of the University of Wroclaw, Poland. orcid.org/0000-0002-2132-2645
Article

Access_open The Challenges for England’s Post-Conviction Review Body

Deference to Juries, the Principle of Finality and the Court of Appeal

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden wrongful conviction, criminal justice, Criminal Cases Review Commission, Court of Appeal, discretion
Auteurs Carolyn Hoyle
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    Since 1997, the Criminal Cases Review Commission of England, Wales and Northern Ireland has served as a state-funded post-conviction body to consider claims of wrongful conviction for those who have exhausted their rights to appeal. A meticulous organisation that has over its lifetime referred over 700 cases back to the Court of Appeal, resulting in over 60% of those applicants having their convictions quashed, it is nonetheless restricted in its response to cases by its own legislation. This shapes its decision-making in reviewing cases, causing it to be somewhat deferential to the original jury, to the principle of finality and, most importantly, to the Court of Appeal, the only institution that can overturn a wrongful conviction. In mandating such deference, the legislation causes the Commission to have one eye on the Court’s evolving jurisprudence but leaves room for institutional and individual discretion, evidenced in some variability in responses across the Commission. While considerable variability would be difficult to defend, some inconsistency raises the prospects for a shift towards a less deferential referral culture. This article draws on original research by the author to consider the impact of institutional deference on the work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and argues for a slightly bolder approach in its work


Carolyn Hoyle
Carolyn Hoyle is Professor of Criminology at the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, UK.
Article

Access_open Chosen Blindness or a Revelation of the Truth?

A New Procedure for Revision in Belgium

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden final criminal conviction, revision procedure, grounds for revision, Court of Cassation, Commission for revision in criminal matters
Auteurs Katrien Verhesschen en Cyrille Fijnaut
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The Belgian Code of criminal procedure provides the possibility to revise final criminal convictions. This procedure had remained more or less untouched for 124 years, but was finally reformed by the Act of 2018, after criticism was voiced in legal doctrine concerning its narrow scope and possible appearances of partiality and prejudice. The Act of 2018 therefore broadened the third ground for revision, the so-called novum, and defined it as an element that was unknown to the judge during the initial proceedings and impossible for the convicted person to demonstrate at that time and that, alone or combined with evidence that was gathered earlier, seems incompatible with the conviction, thus creating a strong suspicion that, if it had been known, it would have led to a more favourable outcome. Thereby, this ground for revision is no longer limited to factual circumstances, but also includes changed appreciations by experts. To counter appearances of partiality and prejudice, the Act of 2018 created the Commission for revision in criminal matters, a multidisciplinary body that has to give non-binding advice to the Court of Cassation on the presence of a novum. However, the legislature also introduced new hurdles on the path to revision, such as the requirement for the applicant to add pieces that demonstrate the ground for revision in order for his or her request to be admissible. For that reason, the application in practice will have to demonstrate whether the Act of 2018 made the revision procedure more accessible in reality.


Katrien Verhesschen
Katrien Verhesschen is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law KU Leuven.

Cyrille Fijnaut
Cyrille Fijnaut is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Law & Criminology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, KU Leuven and Tilburg University.
Article

Access_open Post-Conviction Remedies in the Italian Criminal Justice System

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden wrongful conviction, revision, extraordinary appeal, rescission of final judgment, res judicata
Auteurs Luca Lupária Donati en Marco Pittiruti
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The Italian Constitution expressly contemplates the possibility of a wrongful conviction, by stating that the law shall determine the conditions and forms regulating damages in case of judicial error. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that many provisions of the Italian Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) deal with the topic. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the post-conviction remedies in the Italian legal system by considering the current provisions of the CCP, on the one hand, and by exploring their practical implementation, on the other.


Luca Lupária Donati
Luca Lupária is Full Professor of Criminal Procedure at Roma Tre University, Director of the Italy Innocence Project and President of the European Innocence Network.

Marco Pittiruti
Marco Pittiruti is researcher of Criminal Procedure at Roma Tre University.
Article

Access_open Exoneration in Sweden

Is It Not about Time to Reform the Swedish Model?

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden wrongful convictions, extraordinary legal remedy, exoneration, exoneration in Sweden
Auteurs Dennis Martinsson
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article reviews exoneration in Sweden, with a focus on the procedure of applying for exoneration. First, it highlights some core features of Swedish criminal procedural law, necessary to understand exoneration in the Swedish context. Secondly, it outlines the possibilities in Swedish law to apply for exoneration, both in favour of a convicted person and to the disadvantage of a previously acquitted defendant. Thirdly, it identifies some challenges with the current Swedish model of administering applications for exoneration. Fourthly, it argues that the current system should be reformed by introducing into Swedish law a review committee that administers applications for exoneration.


Dennis Martinsson
Dennis Martinsson is Assistant Professor in the Department of Law of Stockholm University in Sweden.
Article

Access_open Overturning Wrongful Convictions by Way of the Extraordinary Review

The Spanish Experience

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden extraordinary review, remedies, fair trial, wrongful convictions, criminal justice, innocence, procedural safeguards, justice
Auteurs Lorena Bachmaier Winter en Antonio Martínez Santos
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    According to the traditional view, the ultimate aim of the extraordinary review (recurso de revisión) provided in the Spanish justice system was to deal with wrongful criminal convictions and correct those serious miscarriages of justice which became apparent only after the judgment had become final. However, the 2015 reform called this traditional view into question by formally including two additional grounds for review that are not necessarily related to the correcting miscarriages or blatant mistakes in the assessment of the facts made by the sentencing court. This paper aims to give an overview of the extraordinary review in Spain. To that end it will first address the legal framework and its practical implementation, as well as present pitfalls and best practices. Finally, future trends and challenges will be identified in order to improve the protection of defendants who have suffered a wrongful conviction.


Lorena Bachmaier Winter
Lorena Bachmaier Winter is Professor of Law at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid.

Antonio Martínez Santos
Antonio Martínez Santos is Associate Professor of Law, Francisco de Vitoria University, Madrid.
Article

Access_open A European Approach to Revision in Criminal Matters?

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Auteurs Joost Nan, Nina Holvast en Sjarai Lestrade
Auteursinformatie

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open Between Legal Certainty and Doubt

The Developments in the Procedure to Overturn Wrongful Convictions in the Netherlands

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 4 2020
Trefwoorden revision law, post-conviction review, wrongful convictions, miscarriages of justice, criminal law, empirical research
Auteurs Nina Holvast, Joost Nan en Sjarai Lestrade
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    The Dutch legislature has recently (2012) altered the legislation for post-conviction revision of criminal cases. The legislature aimed to improve the balance between the competing interests of individual justice and the finality of verdicts, by making post-conviction revision more accessible. In this article we describe the current legal framework for revising cases. We also study how the revision procedure functions in practice, by looking at the types and numbers of (successful) requests for further investigations and applications for revision. We observe three challenges in finding the right balance in the revision process in the Netherlands. These challenges concern: 1) the scope of the novum criterion (which is strict), 2) the appropriate role of an advisory committee (the ACAS) in revision cases (functioning too much as a pre-filter for the Supreme Court) and, 3) the difficulties that arise due to requiring a defence council when requesting a revision (e.g., financial burdens).


Nina Holvast
Nina Holvast is Assistant Professor at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

Joost Nan
Joost Nan is Associate Professor at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Sjarai Lestrade
Sjarai Lestrade is Assistant Professor at the Radboud University Nijmegen.
Article

Access_open How Far Should the State Go to Counter Prejudice?

A Positive State Obligation to Counter Dehumanisation

Tijdschrift Erasmus Law Review, Aflevering 3 2020
Trefwoorden prejudice, soft paternalism, empathy, liberalism, employment discrimination, access to goods and services
Auteurs Ioanna Tourkochoriti
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    This article argues that it is legitimate for the state to practice soft paternalism towards changing hearts and minds in order to prevent behaviour that is discriminatory. Liberals accept that it is not legitimate for the state to intervene in order to change how people think because ideas and beliefs are wrong in themselves. It is legitimate for the state to intervene with the actions of a person only when there is a risk of harm to others and when there is a threat to social coexistence. Preventive action of the state is legitimate if we consider the immaterial and material harm that discrimination causes. It causes harm to the social standing of the person, psychological harm, economic and existential harm. All these harms threaten peaceful social coexistence. This article traces a theory of permissible government action. Research in the areas of behavioural psychology, neuroscience and social psychology indicates that it is possible to bring about a change in hearts and minds. Encouraging a person to adopt the perspective of the person who has experienced discrimination can lead to empathetic understanding. This, can lead a person to critically evaluate her prejudice. The paper argues that soft paternalism towards changing hearts and minds is legitimate in order to prevent harm to others. It attempts to legitimise state coercion in order to eliminate prejudice and broader social patterns of inequality and marginalisation. And it distinguishes between appropriate and non-appropriate avenues the state could pursue in order to eliminate prejudice. Policies towards eliminating prejudice should address the rational and the emotional faculties of a person. They should aim at using methods and techniques that focus on persuasion and reduce coercion. They should raise awareness of what prejudice is and how it works in order to facilitate well-informed voluntary decisions. The version of soft paternalism towards changing minds and attitudes defended in this article makes it consistent with liberalism.


Ioanna Tourkochoriti
Ioanna Tourkochoriti is Lecturer Above the Bar, NUI Galway School of Law.

    This article studies the significance of insights from non-legal disciplines (such as political science, economics, and sociology) for comparative legal research and the methodology connected with such ‘interdisciplinary contextualisation’. Based on a theoretical analysis concerning the nature and methodology of comparative law, the article demonstrates that contextualisation of the analysis of legal rules and case law is required for a meaningful comparison between legal systems. The challenges relating to this contextualisation are illustrated on the basis of a study of the judicial use of comparative legal analysis as a source of inspiration in the judgment of difficult cases. The insights obtained from the theoretical analysis and the example are combined in a final analysis concerning the role and method of interdisciplinary contextualisation in comparative legal analysis conducted by legal scholars and legal practitioners.


Elaine Mak Ph.D.
Endowed Professor of Empirical Study of Public Law, in particular of Rule-of-Law Institutions, at Erasmus School of Law. Contact: mak@law.eur.nl.

    The Versailles Treaty (Art. 227) called for the prosecution of Wilhelm II, the German ex-Kaiser. Because of the refusal of the Dutch Government to surrender Wilhelm, a trial never took place. This paper tries to elaborate some questions concerning this possible trial. What was the background of the said Treaty paragraph? What would have happened when Wilhelm had been surrendered? Based on a report of a special committee to the peace conference, the possible indictment is discussed. The authors try to elaborate some thoughts for answering the question about Wilhelm’s criminal responsibility, especially as author of the war (‘ius ad bellum’) by starting an aggressive war and/or by violating the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg. Wilhelm’s possible responsibility for violations of the ‘ius in bello’ (laws and customs of war) in Belgium, France, and Poland and/or by ordering an unlimited submarine war is discussed as well. It is concluded that it would have been very difficult for the tribunal to have Wilhelm find criminal responsible for the indictment, except for the violation of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg. But then, the tribunal would have been obliged to answer fundamental questions about the command responsibility of Wilhelm. From a point of view of international criminal law, it is rather unfortunate that the unique opportunity for a ‘Prologue to Nuremberg’ was not realised, although a trial would not have made history take a different turn than it did in the twentieth century after the ‘Great War’.


Paul Mevis
P.A.M. Mevis is professor of criminal law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Prof. Mevis wrote before ‘De berechting van Wilhelm II’, in J. Dohmen, T. Draaisma & E. Stamhuis (ed.), Een kwestie van grensoverschrijding. Liber amicorum P.E.L. Janssen (2009), at 197-231.

Jan M. Reijntjes
J.M. Reijntjes is professor of (international) criminal law at the University of Curaçao.
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