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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78625 Find in a Library
Title: Division of the Main Trial Into Two Parts
Journal: Bewaehrungshilfe  Volume:27  Issue:2  Dated:(1980)  Pages:132-141
Author(s): H Schreiber
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: German
Country: West Germany (Former)
Annotation: Problems connected with reform of laws governing trial procedures in West Germany and possible introduction of a bipartite division of the main trial are discussed.
Abstract: Despite important reforms in substantive law favoring resocialization of offenders, corresponding changes in procedural law have been stalled because of preoccupation with antiterrorist measures. One of the principal reforms proposed in the division of the main trial into two parts: determination of guilt and sentencing. The intention of such a bipartite division would be to protect the accused from public disclosure of personal information before determination of guilt and to permit preparation of an effective defense focusing on proof of innocence without regard for sentencing pleas likely to weaken the case. With the shift to emphasis on resocialization, the division would have the advantage of leaving adequate time for background investigations and determination of an appropriate sanction. However, judges oppose bipartite division because they believe that it would lengthen trials, cause unnecessary repetition, and leave the court ignorant of vital personal information about the offender until the second phase of the trial. To test the practicality, the author applied the bipartite division in 185 trials and compared the results to two control groups. In a second study 70 two-phase trials were compared to control groups. Each trial followed a prescribed set of specific procedures, including use of the same judges for both trial parts, holding the second part immediately after the first, and making no changes in basic procedural rules. Results indicate that the bipartite division is practical and particularly effective for protecting personal information about offenders and for advancing efforts to ward appropriate sentences. The time necessary for the trial is increased by 30 percent. No special difficulties in personal contacts of judges with defendants because of a dearth of personal information about the offender are evident. The author proposes that the two-phase trial model be kept flexible so that the division could be dropped when it is unnecessary or not desired by participants. Further development of the model is recommended. Notes are supplied.
Index Term(s): Court reform; Court rules; Germany; Rehabilitation; Trial courts; Trial procedures
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