PACSO forums are now open: PAFAA/PACSO forums
PACSO aims to assist those who require assistance appealing convictions of a sexual nature. These are notoriously difficult to appeal successfully due to the fact that the only evidence required to obtain a conviction is the word of the complainant and who he or she told.
Most appeals in these cases rest on an “abuse of process” or misdirections and missed directions by the judge to the jury. On occasion there is “fresh evidence” but they are few and far between. Fresh evidences usually has to go to the heart of the allegations, so somebody stepping forward after conviction saying, “well I used to stay in the house when the complainant was there and I never saw anything” will not cut the mustard.
To appeal it is preferable to lodge an appeal within 28 days of conviction. Often this is not possible if trial counsel states that there are no grounds. Family members then go off in search of assistance and these days, legal aid will not pay for a solicitor to go through the trial file in order to look for grounds or arguments.
Due to the savage cuts to legal aid, the lay person supporting the wrongly convicted person is supposed to be able to identify grounds and arguments. Anybody in this unenviable situation will know that what a lay person considers to be a ground with which to appeal, is in fact not a ground at all. They need legal aid to instruct an expert. Unfortunately the MoJ has decided that this can no longer happen.
Worried families and friends approach various support groups for advice. The JSU – Judge’s Summing Up is a very important document and if the client / supporters can afford to pay for this, then that would be the first step. This can cost anything from £100 upwards over £600 depending on how long the judge took to sum up and direct the jury.
If you are advised to get the JSU you need to do that asap. The defendant or his nominated (in writing) representative should either contact the convicting court and ask them who the transcribers are or find them online and contact them direct.
The first hurdle once you are out of the 28 days deadline to lodge an appeal is an application to appeal “out of time”. The SJ (Single Judge) at the CA (Court of Appeal) will not accept “we were so shocked and upset that it took us a few months for us to rally round to get started on an appeal”. That will not wash.
More to come.