Prevention of Wrongful Convictions: Norwegian Legal Safeguards and the Criminal Cases Review Commission

Svein Magnussen har sammen med Ulf Stridbeck skrevet en artikkel i University of Cincinnati Law Review


Wrongful convictions happen in all countries. Miscarriages of justice are a normal and expected consequence of imperfect procedures of investigation, prosecution, and court trials, and they are ordinarily conceived as exceptional and unacceptable events. Wrongful convictions may be overturned and a case may be reopened when new evidence or circumstances surface. When a case is reopened, our confidence in a just legal system is supported. However, too many reopened cases suggest too many wrongful convictions. This is a threat to the legitimacy of the justice. According to Ogletree and Sarat, wrongful convictions are not random mistakes but rather “organic outcomes of a misshaped larger system that is rife with faulty eyewitness identifications, false confessions, biased juries, and racial discrimination. Similar descriptions of wrongful convictions by US authors are US biased; they originate within the US justice system, which is in many respects different from the systems in many European countries, and very different indeed from the justice systems in the Nordic countries. The reasons for wrongful convictions in countries such as Norway are not  errors of justice on a system level, rather it is failure to detect or present evidence that might have changed the outcome of the original trial. The ability to reopen wrongful conviction cases is typically based on evidence from new medical or psychiatric experts, another person’s confession, new medical findings, new witness statements, or new expert witness testimonies. The Norwegian justice system has a number of built-in safeguards against miscarriages of justice, and claimed wrongful convictions are evaluated by an independent administrative body, the Norwegian Criminal Cases Review Commission (NCCRC). The NCCRC has the power both to investigate and decide on the reopening of criminal cases. This paper seeks to briefly review the Norwegian legal safeguards and the role of the NCCRC.

University of Cincinnati Law Review, 2013, 80 (4), Article 15


Published Sep. 27, 2013 8:30 AM - Last modified Dec. 19, 2017 9:53 AM