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The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial$
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John H. Langbein

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199287239

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287239.001.0001

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The Law of Criminal Evidence

The Law of Criminal Evidence

(p.178) 4. The Law of Criminal Evidence
The Origins of Adversary Criminal Trial

John H. Langbein

Oxford University Press

In addition to admitting defense counsel, English judges undertook a further effort to safeguard against the mounting dangers of 18th-century prosecutorial practice, by creating the law of criminal evidence. Among the rules of evidence that were developed was the corroboration rule for accomplice testimony, the confession rule excluding suspect pretrial confessions, and the hearsay rule. This chapter examines the emergence of the law of criminal evidence based largely on a set of historical sources called the Old Bailey Sessions Papers, which came to light only in recent decades. These pamphlet accounts depict trials proceedings at the main London criminal court, the Old Bailey, from the 1670s into the 1910s.

Keywords:   accomplice rule, confession rule, corroboration rule, criminal defendant, criminal evidence, evidence law, hearsay, judges, Old Bailey, prosecution

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