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NCJ Number: 200843 Find in a Library
Title: Philosophical and Social View of the Jury: Could it Have a Renaissance in Germany?
Journal: International Review of Penal Law  Volume:72  Issue:1-2  Dated:2001  Pages:553-557
Author(s): Felix Herzog
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 5
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: France
Annotation: This article discusses the philosophy of lay participation in the criminal justice system.
Abstract: German liberalism of the late 18th and first half of the 19th century took up lay participation as a central claim in criminal trial. Lay participation aims at securing civil rights against professional judges representing the authority of the state and at promoting the transparency of decisionmaking. Lay participation yields an impartial, politically unbiased and just criminal justice system. Criminal procedure should not be an act of submission, but should raise in the defendant the consciousness of the universality of law. This process is doomed to failure if placed solely in the hands of professional judges excluding lay participation, in the sense of excluding society from jurisdiction. The criminal justice system is connected with the self-organization and self-consciousness of civil society and is distinguished from the control of professional judges. The objection that a criminal justice system without lay participation could be time-saving and more efficient is not accepted. German dictatorships have abused the idea of lay participation. The realization of the political notion of jury trials -- that every citizen be judged by his equals -- is practically impossible. Decision making by juries may seriously undermine the authority of the criminal justice system because laymen make irrational spontaneous decisions. Lay participation in the development of a sophisticated criminal law will be obstructed because common sense can only grasp simply structured or simplified criminal cases. Since 1924, jury trials have been abolished in Germany. The participation of lay assessors in professional courts is a compulsory exercise. There are no signs of a renaissance of lay participation and jury trial in the German criminal justice system. Bibliography
Main Term(s): German Democratic Republic; Juries
Index Term(s): Court personnel; Judges; Jury decisionmaking; Lay judges; Public Attitudes/Opinion; Trial procedures
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