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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 74244 Find in a Library
Title: Continental Cures for American Ailments - European Criminal Procedure as a Model for Law Reform (From Crime and Justice - An Annual Review of Research - Volume 2, P 381-428, 1980, Norval Morris and Michael Tonry, ed. See NCJ-74239)
Author(s): T Weigend
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 48
Sponsoring Agency: University of Chicago Press
Chicago, IL 60637
Sale Source: University of Chicago Press
1427 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This comparison of pretrial investigation, prosecutorial discretion, and plea bargaining in France, West Germany, and the United States suggests that the United States might benefit from adoption of these European practices, although drastic revision of Anglo-American principles of adjudication would be required.
Abstract: As the gap widens between the ideal of adversary procedure and the practice of bargained justice in the United States, European ways of organizing the criminal process have gained attention. European criminal procedure, characterized by the dominating position of the judge before and at trial, appears to offer a workable alternative to the traditional adversary process. Although French and West German systems of pretrial investigation, prosecutorial discretion, and adjudication appear fundamentally different from American practice, only the last is substantially different. American plea bargaining has no analogue in France or West Germany. Despite the existence of an investigating magistrate in France, French and German practices for organization and control of pretrial investigation are not significantly different from American practice. Prosecutorial charging discretion is limited to less serious offenses in West Germany; however, neither in France nor in West Germany is prosecutorial decisionmaking effectively controlled with regard to the great majority of criminal cases. Disposition of cases by trial rather than by plea bargaining remains the prevalent method in both European countries. In order to profit from the advantages of the European system of providing brief, concise trials to all defendants, Americans may have to sacrifice revered common law institutions such as trial by jury and adversary presentation of the evidence. Approximately 87 references and 35 footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified).
Index Term(s): France; Germany; Judicial process; Plea negotiations; Pretrial procedures; Prosecutorial discretion; Right to trial by jury; United States of America
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