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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82751 Find in a Library
Title: World Legal Traditions and Institutions Revised Edition
Author(s): J S E Opolot
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 176
Sponsoring Agency: Pilgrimage Press
Jonesboro, TN 37659
Sale Source: Pilgrimage Press
Route 11
Box 553
Jonesboro, TN 37659
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The text compares four major world legal families (civil, common, socialist, and Islamic). It covers their origins, geographic location, main tenets, primary institutions, and modern modifications, and suggests strategies for improving criminal justice.
Abstract: Civil law, an outgrowth of European tribal and feudal laws and Latin American customary law, was developed by the Romans and has been the primary influence in Western Europe. It is characterized by the inquisitorial system, which presumes guilt instead of innocence; pretrial magisterial investigation of cases; and limited use of juries. Common law, spread worldwide by British colonization, is characterized by the principle of stare decisis (the doctrine of precedent), jury trial, use of the grand jury and judicial review, and the adversary system. Common law countries have similar police, court, and corrections systems, but there are sharp differences between the systems of developed and developing nations. Socialist law views individual behavior as shaped by social conditions; thus, the legal system is an extension of the ruling class, which, in modern Communist states, is defined as 'the proletariat.' Many Eastern European, African, and Asian countries have experimented with variations on Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist themes. Islamic law claims jurisdiction over the religious, political, social, and economic systems. The traditional Islamic criminal process consists of the trial and administration of penal sanctions (for both Koranic and judicially determined offenses). The revival of Islamic fundamentalism attempts to counter the increasing westernization of Islamic law in the face of modernization. Diminished confidence and respect for the law and administration of justice is a worldwide problem, complicated by legal ambiguities, broad discretionary powers, and undue political influences. Solutions should focus on the need for borrowing ideas or models, an interdisciplinary approach to judicial administration, and development of comparative criminology. Footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Africa; Asia; Common law; Comparative analysis; Europe; European civil law; Islamic law; Latin America; Legal doctrines; Maoism; Marxism; Middle East; North America; Policy analysis; Political influences; Socialism; Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Note: Revised version of a monograph, 'An Analysis of World Legal Traditions'
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