The Adversarial Criminal Trial

David J. A. Cairns

in Advocacy and the Making of the Adversarial Criminal Trial 1800–1865

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780198262848
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682414 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Modern Legal History

The Adversarial Criminal Trial

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The adversarial criminal trial is seen to come of age in Palmer. Twenty years after the Prisoners' Counsel Act this trial, one of the great criminal trials in the history of English law, triumphantly realised the expectations of full defence by counsel. A case of labyrinthine facts, involving a mass of circumstantial evidence, the conflicting recollections of dozens of witnesses, and questions of bewildering medical and toxicological perplexity, was reduced by the prosecution and the defence to coherent alternative versions of events to be then presented and tested in examination and cross-examination. The speeches of counsel introduced the alternative interpretations of the evidence, explained their logic, urged their credibility, and uncovered the weaknesses of their adversary's interpretation.

Keywords: adversarial criminal trial; English law; full defence; prosecution; counsel; criminal procedure

Chapter.  8982 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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