Help Us To Help You
By Ben Gunn on 30/06/13Share:
From Inside Time July 2013
Being a caseworker here at Inside Justice is fascinating. Attempting to piece together all the elements of a potential miscarriage of justice is rather like taking apart a building to see how it was built in the first place.
My role is as a tiny administrative cog in a larger machine populated by those with far greater experience and expertise, but tend to be the first port of call for cases. Fighting off my homicidal cat, I sit at my table, scrabble to find something to put on the TV in the background, flex my fingers and unleash the greatest invention of human intellect the internet. Your letters arrive in the office, get scanned, and then emailed to ;me by Louise, The Boss (not to be confused with Eric McGraw, The Boss of Everything).
I then read everything you send, summarise it and recommend our response to Louise. Sometimes I'm right! Letters and First Response Forms are then sent out to you. And this form is crucial, for it asks you for information that the initial incoming letters rarely contain. Reading a letter that just says I'm innocent, can you please help? tends to ruin my morning coffee what the hell am I meant to do with that?!
Many people approach us with pages of arguments as to why they are innocent. Useful stuff, but what is central in dealing with a miscarriage of justice is to know the worst evidence against you not the best version of events, but the worst. For it is that worst version that convicted you, and that's the version that needs to be unravelled before the Court of Appeal can do its business. And that is the information some of you don't like to share.
We are diligent researchers. The first thing I do is Google. And nothing is more frustrating than finding a news report or court papers that reveal crucial pieces of information that you have forgotten to tell us. We will find out, so please be up-front from the beginning. We understand that even a case that looks overwhelmingly guilty may not be all that it seems. However, our work can cut both ways; there are times when we will discover evidence which goes to confirm guilt and we will expect to commission any test which has the potential ;to prove innocence or guilt, not just cherry pick according to your wish-list. Inside Justice works towards the ends of justice, to free the genuinely innocent from prison, and this work is taken very seriously. If you are guilty, please do not ask us to find a legal technicality or error to free you. With limited resources our focus is on the genuinely innocent.
There are cases which, by their very nature, are incredibly difficult to progress. Historical abuse cases are often impossible for us to help with, as are the he said, she said rape convictions. Whilst there are such cases where surrounding evidence may be capable of being useful, the question we ultimately ask ourselves is what we can do to test the evidence, if that comes down to whether the accuser is sticking to their story, the options open to us will be extremely limited.
Working to free the wrongly convicted is a long and gruelling task. Please help us to make it just a little bit easier.