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NCJ Number: 99424 Find in a Library
Title: Perogative of Mercy, The Power of Pardon and Criminal Justice
Journal: Public Law  Dated:(Autumn 1983)  Pages:398-439
Author(s): A T H Smith
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 43
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Following an examination of the appeals system, the scope and effects of the pardon, controls over its exercise, and compensation of the wrongly convicted are discussed.
Abstract: Under British law, the judicial mechanism for review is thorough and comprehensive; it exists to prevent error rather than injustice. Because the aim of an adversarial system is to present evidence rather than pursue truth, errors can occur and require a means for correction. Pardons, which may granted for virtually any criminal offense, may be absolute, conditional, or serve to remit the sentence. While initially the prerogative of the monarch, the power to grant pardons has been with the Home Secretary since 1837. Under the present system, petitioners must prove their innocence to obtain an absolute pardon, and the burden of proof is greater than that required by the appeals court. If they are able only to raise serious doubts about their guilt, they may be granted only a remission. Currently, the award of a pardon does not carry any statutory entitlement to compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment, although an ex gratia payment is automatic in cases of absolute pardon. No compensation is granted for remission of sentence. It is clear that the pardon is being used to correct errors of the judicial system. That such correction is needed suggests that further refinement of the system is in order. This could include a relaxation of the rules on admission of fresh evidence and greater use of the power to order a retrial. Even with such refinements, it is likely that a mechanism will still be needed to correct injustices when they occur. Included are 18 footnotes.
Index Term(s): Appellate courts; Foreign criminal justice systems; Great Britain/United Kingdom; Legal system; Pardon; Victim compensation
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