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Advocacy and the Making of the Adversarial Criminal Trial 1800–1865$
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David J. A. Cairns

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198262848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198262848.001.0001

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The Context of Upheaval

The Context of Upheaval

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 The Context of Upheaval
Source:
Advocacy and the Making of the Adversarial Criminal Trial 1800–1865
Author(s):

David J. A. Cairns

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198262848.003.0001

During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries capital punishment dominated the criminal process. There were nominally over two hundred capital felonies, ranging from the most serious crimes against the person and property to species of poaching, pick-pocketing, and shoplifting. This prevalence of the death penalty distracted prosecutors, witnesses, counsel, judges, and jurors from a strict investigation of the facts and application of the law, and hindered the rational development of criminal law and procedure. When the widespread repeal of capital statutes began in the early 1820s this influence of punishment on the trial slackened, and created the opportunity for procedure to develop in an adversarial way and indeed pressed it in that direction.

Keywords:   capital punishment, capital felonies, crimes, prosecutors, criminal law, criminal process

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