Equality of Arms in Criminal Justice

Equality Of Arms The principle of equality of arms is classified as a sub-principle of fairness, whereby the accuser and the accused must be treated equally before the law. This approach is clearly endorsed in various instruments of international tribunals, and is reflected in the right to legal counsel at the expense of the Tribunal where the accused is indigent, the presumption of innocence and the requirement that guilt must be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) is one of the most important instruments that codifies civil and human rights including the right to a fair trial, in which, has been adopted by most countries of the world and Malaysia, being a member of the United Nations should make this ICCPR as part of our law. As could be observed the right to “equality of arms” is enshrined in the ICCPR and these rights include four fundamental fair trial principles: All parties, including the defendant, must have an equal opportunity to present evidence and arguments before the court; No party to the proceedings should benefit from a substantive advantage over the other; All persons must have access to fair and effective remedies; Everyone […] read more

No Will? Think again whether you should have one.

No Will? Think again whether you should have one. What is Will? A Will is just a simple instrument – it list out all your assets and to whom you want to give the assets to in the future, who administer these assets on your behalf and distribute your assets according to your instruction upon death. A Will can also be a complex one where you direct that your assets only be given to specific beneficiaries upon them satisfying certain criteria. But a simple instrument like a Will can make a lot of difference as to the distribution of your assets and the well being of your descendants. For many, it’s a taboo for making a Will, especially for young people. “Why should I make a Will when I’m still young, healthy and able to manage my assets?” “Why should I make a Will? My assets will automatically go to my children and wife once I’m gone.” It may seem straightforward than it should be. However, a story of a young executive who dies at early age may change your view. Life of a Successful Man John (not his real name) was an aspiring and energetic young man who had high vision of how his future going to be. […] read more

Trafficking In Dangerous Drugs and Murder Cases, Which One Is Easier to Defend?

Trafficking In Dangerous Drugs and Murder Cases, Which One Is Easier to Defend? To a defence lawyer nothing is easy when defending clients accused for trafficking in dangerous drugs and for murder cases. The simple reason is that the life of a prisoner is in the hands of the lawyer and the only sentence available in law is death by hanging. There is no alternative to plead to save the prisoner’s life however skillful is the defence lawyer. To a layman, the question always been asked is that, “Why defend a drugs trafficker? “Why defend a murderer?” The prejudice was always great and unjustified, but, to a lawyer a job has to be done to ensure that the prisoner has a fair trial and that if convicted, it must be based on credible evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt by the prosecutor and that it was not a fixed up case. Witness Telling Lies! Prosecution Fixed Up Case? How can a lawyer be able to know that evidence has been fixed up against the prisoner or the witness was telling a lie? Very impossible! A lawyer may suspect lies been told and evidence been fixed up, but could not prove them. What the law requires in such circumstances is proof and nothing, but, suspicions […] read more

Constitutionality of Death Penalty

The issue on the constitutionality of death penalty had previously been argued before the Privy Council in the case of Ong Kee Chuan v. Public Prosecutor [1981] 1 MLJ 64 PC. In actual fact this was a case of appeal from Singapore under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1973 to the Privy Council. However, the Privy Council in their judgment ruled that the death penalty was constitutional. Now, cases are no more heard before the Privy Council in the United Kingdom and therefore the highest court where litigants could be heard now in all legal matters are before the Federal Court only. By Voon Lee Shan in the Federal Court In the Federal Court sitting at Kuching on 1st October, 2012 the issue on the constitutionality of the death penalty was again raised before five judges in the Federal Court Criminal Appeal Case No: 05-234-09/2011(Q) in Chung Ngee Hong v. Public Prosecutor in a dangerous drugs case under section 39B(2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries the mandatory sentence of death upon conviction. Death Penalty Arbitrary, Unfair or Unjust It was argued before the Federal Court that the death penalty under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 is arbitrary, unfair […] read more

What You Must Know About Police Report!

How Important Is A Police Report? Lodging police report is a simple thing, but, not that simple! Many times people complained that police did not act on reports lodged by them. The blame was on the police, not themselves. This is not correct. Of course, there are times police did failed or neglected to act on a report for various reasons. There are certain conditions a police report needs to comply with if you want a police report to be acted upon by the police. The police report must be lodged at a police station, in actual fact, at any police station and it is an offence for any police officer to obstruct a person from lodging a police report. The police could not just simply refuse to take your report. In law, the police report has to be lodged to the police officer in charge of the police station concerned, but, in practice, there are always police officers, usually a corporal to record the police report. If given orally, it must be reduced in writing in a book called, Report Book, and this book is kept by the officer in charge of the station. Sometimes, police officers who are […] read more

Confronting Experts In Court

Confronting experts in court could be a very challenging task. Inexperienced lawyers always found it very difficult to break the evidence of expert witnesses. Evidence sought from expert witnesses during trial normally involved forensic or scientific evidence.  Many young and inexperienced lawyers may just let lose the expert to give evidence without even be bothered to cross-examine the expert or without testing the expert’s knowledge of his expertise. Judges may often be caught too and may also tend to believe the testimonies of experts. Evidence by expert witnesses were normally taken prima facie credible and accused persons could be convicted on evidence of experts unless evidence of experts could be rebutted or be contradicted during cross-examinations or trial. This is because most lawyers are not trained in the areas the experts whose expertise was sought in court. How A Good Lawyer Can Shake Up Expert’s Evidence In a trial, a good trial lawyer who knows his trade well could at times be able to shake the evidence of the expert during cross-examination with a few tricks to destroy the confidence of the expert when the expert gives his expert testimony. One of the tricks a good trial lawyer could be […] read more