Top critical review
Injustice by Clive Stafford Smith
on 15 January 2014
Having not read the paperback edition I am unable to comment on that, but from my researches into the saintly figure of Clive Stafford Smith I have no doubt that it is more of the same.
This book professes to be an investigation into a miscarriage of justice; in reality it is both a ludicrous conspiracy theory and a polemic against the death penalty. Stafford Smith and his Reprieve organisation have made numerous claims about other alleged miscarriages of justice, including capital cases, that have absolutely no basis in fact. A few years ago they mounted a campaign on behalf of Linda Carty, a woman who has a tenuous UK connection but was peddled as a British citizen facing the death penalty in Texas for a crime she didn't commit. Carty gets a very brief mention in this book with the usual insinuation that she is where she is only because she had the worst lawyer in Texas if not in the entire world. The truth is very different; Jerry Guerinot was a court-appointed lawyer who was handed the worst of the worst clients including James Emery Paster, a murderer whose rape victims included his own sister and mother!
As Guerinot said in April 2012, he did not defend such clients in the true sense of the word but "rather I represented them to the fullest extent to ensure they each received a fair trial with every constitutional right to which the worst offender is entitled under our Constitution".
Carty was nowhere near as bad as Paster but she was convicted of an heinous crime on overwhelming evidence. Whether or not she or even the vilest of serial killers deserves the death penalty is beyond the scope of this review, but what is not, is the cavalier twisting of the truth and at times outright lies that are Stafford Smith's stock in trade.
That being said, he does not lie gratuitously here, so without making a detailed investigation it is easy for anyone who has a smidgeon of legal knowledge to point out why this cause is so hopeless.
At the beginning of the book, Stafford Smith points out that Maharaj did not call a single defense witness at his murder trial, not did he testify - except during the penalty phase. Having offered no sort of alibi and being opposed by an eyewitness - Neville Butler (who admittedly was far from unblemished), massive forensic evidence, motive, and other, related misdeeds, it is hardly surprising that he was convicted of the murder of father and son Derrick and Duane Moo Young. How does one appeal against conviction from this?
The answer is to adduce fresh alibi witnesses, but an appellate court will accept such new evidence only in exceptional circumstances, because given enough time, effort and skulduggery, almost any defendant can adduce such new witnesses. The time to do so is at trial, not years or decades later.
Taking Maharaj at face value, Stafford Smith has constructed a thinly veiled conspiracy theory that blames the double murder on certain persons in the illicit drug trade. He claims to have found witnesses to that effect, but like Maharaj, these witnesses have big credibility problems.
If you bought this book, read it, and were impressed with it, read it again critically, and I guarantee you won't be half so impressed.