Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Friday, 10 July 2015

Crowd Justice Appeal: Change the law on joint enterprise


What our case is about

This is the first Supreme Court case to consider the question of the harm the concept of joint enterprise causes secondary parties. This is a real opportunity to change the law.

The doctrine of Joint Enterprise leads to miscarriages of justice

Right now, hundreds of people are serving time in UK prisons for crimes they did not commit.
Many of them are serving long sentences, of 15 years or more, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are our sons, daughters and friends and they are suffering the consequences of a grave injustice.
The Joint Enterprise law is over 300 years old and was initially created to discourage the use of illegal duelling. Today, however, it is increasingly being used to prosecute people for violent crimes where they are alleged to have lent encouragement to the main perpetrator. In the last ten years it has increasingly been used to prosecute all those present at the scene of a crime even where there is no evidence that the violence was planned and where there is little or no evidence that many of the alleged participants intended that the crime should be committed. Some of those convicted under this doctrine are:
  • Jordan Cunliffe was 15 years old when he was convicted of murder. Some of Jordan’s friends became involved in an altercation with a neighbour, who was struck to the back of the neck. This resulted in a fatal sub-arrachnoid haemorrhage, rare injury caused by a single punch or kick. There was no evidence that Jordan struck this blow. He said that he was more than ten feet away at the time and could not see what was going on. Jordan suffers from a rare eye condition and his vision at the time was so poor that he could have been registered blind. Despite this, the jury was directed that they could convict him on the basis that he encouraged the violence merely because he was present at the scene.
  • Laura Mitchell is a young mother who was training to be a midwife. She and her boyfriend were in a parking lot outside a pub when a friend committed a fatal assault. At the time of the attack, Laura was looking for her shoes. She and her boyfriend went to the police station to help with inquiries. It did not occur to her at the time that she was a murder suspect. Under the doctrine of joint enterprise they were both convicted of murder and sentenced to 12 and 13 years in prison respectively.
Jordan and Laura are just two of hundreds of people who are being convicted under this antiquated law and the injustices have to stop. Pressure from campaign groups like ours forced an inquiry into the use of the law in 2011, but it still remains in force. If enough of us come together we can put more pressure on the government to make sure this law is abolished for good and ensure that no other families have to watch their innocent children waste their lives away in prison.

The legal case

The Supreme Court has been asked to conduct a fundamental review of the law of joint enterprise, in particular as it operates in murder prosecutions. It has been asked to answer two questions.
The second of these - the one that's key from our perspective - is whether joint enterprise "over-criminalises secondary parties".
This is an area in which we have become experts through our work over the last five years. We are able to show exactly how miscarriages of justice have occurred as a direct result of the application of the doctrine of joint enterprise. JENGbA’s proposed intervention is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the law.
  • In its submission, JENGbA will analyse the factual matrix underlying a number of joint enterprise based convictions, focussing in particular on homicide cases.
  • JENGbA will illustrate the ways in which the current law over criminalises secondary parties drawing on the many joint enterprise cases which we have encountered in the course of our campaigning work.
  • We will support proposed reforms to the law.

This case goes to the core of the British justice system - and the society we live in

JENGbA genuinely believe that we can now prove joint enterprise charging is a blight on the British Justice System. Some of the UK's leading academics and members of the judiciary have questioned whether it is fit for purpose and agree that it is leading to miscarriages of justice.
Any citizen who believes in natural justice should donate.
Joint Enterprise creates more victims by giving innocent people mandatory life sentences. This can affect anyone - but as we will show, it disproportionately discriminates against poor and marginalised communities.

How much we are raising and what we are using it for

JENGbA is hoping to raise £10,000 for the analytical work to be done by our lawyers - leading human rights and criminal solicitors ITN, and leading barristers at Doughty Street. Our lawyers are analysing a number of cases where miscarriages of justice have occurred.
We would ideally like to raise £15,000 for an even more detailed analysis of cases - there are so many where the secondary party has been over-criminalised.