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Comparative Criminal Procedure - A Plea for Utilizing Foreign Experience

NCJ Number
Buffalo Law Review Volume: 26 Issue: 2 Dated: (1977) Pages: 361-385
R B Schlesinger
Date Published
25 pages
Changes in the criminal justice system, which are inspired by the European democracies, promote the ascertainment of truth and speed the disposal of the cases by favoring discovery and disfavoring silence.
This comparison of several aspects of the criminal justice system in the United States and Western European countries shows that while the basic democratic premise is the same, the European systems are more efficient and better at determining the truth. For example, the accused is encouraged to give the pretrial testimony, which can be used in the investigation of the crime, and it becomes, together with the testimony of the witnesses, a part of the prosecutor's dossier which is accessible to the defendant. This pretrial preparation results in shorter trials, while the defendant cannot be convicted on a surprise evidence. Therefore, it is recommended, that the U.S. justice system, which encourages silence of the accused, should consider the example of the European systems.