It’s probably a good idea that we start with a brief outline of what it is that we do. The work of our casework team is to support those of our clients who have not yet been exonerated, but who are maintaining their innocence, have an objectively demonstrable claim to that innocence, and are seeking to overturn wrongful convictions. This service is provided both to clients who are serving sentences and to those who have been released having completed theirs. For each client our efforts are directed, first, towards identifying available and stateable grounds of appeal, and then in framing and pursuing an application to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. The hope, and the aim, is to have the case referred back to the Appeal Court.
We say “back” to the Appeal Court because, in the great majority of our cases, the client has already had at least one appeal refused by the court. This has two significant consequences. Finding fresh grounds of appeal with a realistic prospect of success in the Appeal Court, a forum in which success is already depressingly difficult to achieve, is yet more difficult. And in the almost universal absence of access to meaningful Legal Aid funding, our clients generally find themselves unable to access professional legal advice.
We are, as a result, a last line of defence for the majority of those we seek to help – deserving and wronged individuals who are already disadvantaged in the extreme.
So now, the update. We currently have 56 cases under review. All Scottish cases, these cover the broad spectrum of offences and involve sentences ranging from 4 years to life, with tariffs of up to 25 years. Their current status ranges from initial assessment to final “fine tuning” and, at the time of writing, we have 5 cases in advanced-stage preparation for submission to the SCCRC.
We hope to submit the first of those cases to the Commission in a matter of weeks. A murder case dating back to the 1980s, we have identified two fresh grounds of appeal. These were discussed, and approved, at a case conference in our offices yesterday (see photos). In due course it will be for the SCCRC to decide, but here at MOJO we are in no doubt that the two young men convicted of this murder were the victims of a grotesque and disgraceful miscarriage of justice.
We’ll keep you posted…