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Developments in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

NCJ Number
Criminal Law Forum Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: (1994) Pages: 165-193
A L-T Choo; W A Schabas
Date Published
29 pages
These two papers describe two recent developments in criminal law; one focuses on the halting of a trial in England due to an illegally obtained extradition, while the other focuses on capital punishment and unreasonable delays in the execution of death row inmates.
In 1992, the United States Supreme Court decision in United States v. Alvarez-Machain reiterated that a trial could not be halted because the defendant's presence in the jurisdiction had been secured in contravention of extradition procedures. In contrast, the House of Lords, England's highest court, in R. v. Horseferry Road Magistrates' Court, Ex parte Bennett, held that a criminal court did have the power to stay a prosecution that had been made possible by an illegally executed extradition. In the 1993 decision of Pratt v. Jamaica, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that when the government cannot execute a person within 5 years of passing a death sentence, the wait on death row amounts to inhuman and degrading treatment. The Pratt decision is a new and important element in a debate on the significance of the death row phenomenon. Within the past 5 years, important judgments on the topic have been rendered by the European Court of Human Rights, the Supreme Court of Canada, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe. The European and Zimbabwean courts share the liberal approach of the Privy Council whereas the domestic courts of Canada and the United States take the conservative perspective of the now overruled decision in Riley v. Jamaica. Footnotes