Opening Potentially Wrongful Convictions - Look to Norway

Svein Magnussen har sammen med Ulf Stridbeck skrevet artikkel i The Criminal Law Quarterly


The independent Criminal Cases Review Commissions in the three European countries were established to seek out potentially wrongful convictions and to uphold the rule of law. By and large, the commissions have been a success. In Norway, a number of cases that were originally denied reopening by the court have later been reopened by the N.C.C.R.C. and the convicted person subsequently exonerated. The number of cases referred for re-trial has increased. However, the N.C.C.R.C. has not been without critics. Two high-profile criminal cases have busied the court system formany years: a murder case dating back to the 1950s and a spy case dating back to the 1980s, each with active supporter groups. For both of the cases the N.C.C.R.C. has on two occasions denied reopening, and has been heavily criticized, for being too loyal to the court system. We believe this criticism to be somewhat unfair, as the N.C.C.R.C. has reopened grave murder cases and other high-profile cases. However, the principle argument, the rationale for Criminal Cases Review Commissions, lies not in the statistics but in their independence of the court system. With such a system — independent, referring cases directly to the courts, safe financing from the State, centralized expertise with diverse skills, having their own investigators who have power to get documents and files from all official bodies—there is less need for the Innocence-type projects that are currently so important in the U.S. legal system. Look to Norway!

Criminal Law Quarterly, 2012, 58 (2), 267 - 282

Published Mar. 15, 2012 1:50 PM - Last modified Aug. 13, 2015 3:01 PM