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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200820 Find in a Library
Title: Mixed Tribunals in Croatia
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:57-86
Author(s): Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovi Ph.D.
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 30
Type: Legislation/Policy Description
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article discusses Croatian mixed tribunals in which professional and lay judges hear and decide legal cases jointly.
Abstract: The Supreme Court is the highest of the three regular judicial tiers in Croatia, followed by regional courts, and then by district courts. Jurisdiction of district courts extends in the first instance to criminal cases for which punishment does not exceed 10 years. Regional courts try criminal cases for offenses for which the punishment exceeds 10 years of imprisonment. Historically, the jury was introduced in Croatia in 1850. The jury was temporarily postponed in 1884 and was never reintroduced. Mixed tribunals were first introduced in 1944. Advocates argued that the introduction of lay judges increased the democratic character of the new criminal justice system. Mixed tribunals consisted of three members: one presiding permanent judge and two temporary judges. Temporary judges could be either female or male citizens of age that were “viceless.” They were elected by the people or by the representatives of the people. Once elected for a 4-year mandate, a lay judge is not guaranteed to remain in service for the whole period and can be dismissed due to reasons related to the election process, the inability to perform duties, or the misuse of the position. Size and composition of the mixed tribunal changes depending on the seriousness of the offense. The functions of both professional judges and lay judges are public and subject to legal rules. Lay judges and professional judges are equals during trial and deliberation. Decisions on appeal, unless they require a trial session, are decided by professional tribunals. When asked their general opinion about the system of mixed tribunals, professional judges, lay judges, and state and private attorneys reported a positive opinion. The most frequent opinion among the respondents was only “somewhat favorable.” Lay judges selected the political function of mixed tribunals as the most important advantage. Among the criticisms of trials by mixed tribunals was the lay persons’ perceived inability to understand and apply the law. 124 footnotes, 36 references
Main Term(s): Croatia; Lay judges
Index Term(s): Court personnel; Court reform; Court research; Judges; Judicial process; Trial procedures
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