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The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial - Oxford Scholarship Online
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The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial

John H. Langbein


The adversary system of trial, now the defining feature of Anglo-American criminal procedure, developed late in English legal history. For centuries, defendants were forbidden to have trial counsel. Prosecution counsel was allowed but seldom used. The criminal trial was meant to be a lawyer-free occasion at which the defendant could hear the accusing evidence and respond to it in person. The transformation from lawyer-free to lawyer-dominated criminal trials happened within the space of about a century, from the 1690s to the 1780s. This book explains how the lawyers captured the trial. In addi ... More

Keywords: adversary system, criminal defendant, criminal justice, criminal procedure, criminal trial, crown witness, defense counsel, evidence law, Old Bailey

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2005 Print ISBN-13: 9780199287239
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287239.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

John H. Langbein, author
Sterling Professor of Law and Legal History, Yale Law School