Letter: Woodward appeal

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The Independent Online
THE JUDGES of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts are hearing appeals arising from Judge Zobel's controversial judgment in the Louise Woodward case. We suggest that the international community in its reaction to the deliberations of the court bear in mind two apparent breaches of fundamental law on fair trials.

The presumption of innocence has always been at the heart of a case that in fact revolves entirely around expert professional opinion. What does concern here is the conflict of evidence knowingly presented by a prosecution whose duty it was to demonstrate consistent expert evidence putting the facts beyond reasonable doubt. The prosecution knew before they went to trial that their medical examiner, Dr Gerald Feigin, was in total disagreement with other prosecution witnesses both as to the extent of the force required to produce the scull damage and the presence of shaken baby syndrome.

The most obvious, perhaps incurable, flaw in the trial was the failure of the trial judge to ensure that the jury, despite their repeated requests, were given parallel defence evidence after they were given prosecution medical evidence. It was breach of that most fundamental principle of fair trials, parity of arms between prosecution and defence.

In normal circumstances one would expect an order for a retrial, but it is hard to envisage, given intense publicity and debate surrounding the original trial, as a practical possibility.

STEPHEN JAKOBI

Director

The Fair Trials Abroad Trust

Richmond, Surrey

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