Comparative Criminal Law: Fair Trials

Comparative Criminal Law: Fair Trials

Ms. Ruth Coffey
Spring 2019 seminar
T 1:10pm - 3:10pm in WCC Room 3012
2 classroom credits

Prerequisite: None

Exam: No Exam

This seminar will explore changing ideas about the nature of a fair trial within a common law criminal justice system. What is a fair trial? Who is it fair to? How can it be achieved? The material will be drawn primarily from the UK, with other readings from the US and from other common law jurisdictions.

The seminar will consider the people involved in a criminal trial, from the witnesses to the press reporters, the police and prosecutors, the judges and jury members, the lawyers, the defendants and the public. To what extent should a 'fair trial' be fair to each? What does fairness involve for these groups? Can a fair trial be achieved for all, and should it?

We will consider the fair trial provisions within international and constitutional documents and the extent and limitations of their guarantees. And we will use examples from the UK and comparative material from the US and other common law jurisdictions to examine a selection of reforms, for example, innovations in the way in which vulnerable witnesses give evidence, or obligations of disclosure on the defence and the modified right to silence. We will critique these reforms, examine their contribution to, or detraction from, the achievement of a fair trial, and consider whether similar measures could, or should, be introduced in the US.

No knowledge of UK law is required.

The instructor is a UK-qualified criminal barrister, a part-time judge (criminal) in the UK, and a door tenant at Red Lion Chambers in London.

Subject Areas: Criminal Law & Procedure, International, Comparative & Foreign Law, Legal & Political Theory