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Retaining the Royal Prerogative of Mercy in New South Wales


Catherine Dale Greentree

This article argues that the prerogative of mercy should be retained in New South Wales as a necessary and appropriate power of the Executive. Historically, pardons have provided opportunities for redemption. Currently, the statutory appeals process is limited to cases involving a miscarriage of justice where there is considerable doubt as to a person’s guilt. In cases where a person is guilty but is nevertheless deserving of mercy, the prerogative of mercy is the only avenue available. As a purely executive power, the prerogative of mercy can achieve the aims of the criminal justice system by tempering justice with mercy. The role of the sovereign involves maintaining order, but also enacting some conception of the good, driven by compassion, love, and mercy. Finally, this article argues that grants of mercy should be a matter of public record, for transparency and as a means of demonstrating this compassion to the public.

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(2019) 42(4) UNSWLJ 1328: