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Juries and the Transformation of Criminal Justice in France in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

James M. Donovan

Publication Year: 2010

From their introduction in 1791 as an expression of the sovereignty of the people through the early 1900s, argues Donovan, juries often acted against the wishes of the political and judicial authorities, despite repeated governmental attempts to manipulate their composition. High acquittal rates for both political and nonpolitical crimes were in part due to juror resistance to the harsh and rigid punishments imposed by the Napoleonic Penal Code, Donovan explains.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Studies in Legal History

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-x

A number of individuals and institutions over the years have in some way contributed to or have helped to make possible the genesis and completion of this book. As a graduate student at New Mexico State University in the mid-1970s, I first became interested in the subject...

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pp. 1-21

The institution of trial by jury is intimately connected with democracy. It is based on the assumption that ordinary citizens are capable of administering justice, just as they are capable of choosing their political leaders. Juries, by virtue of their relative independence, have also often been important protectors of the people’s liberties...

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Chapter One: THE "PALLADIUM OF LIBERTY": Juries, the Revolution, and Napoleon, 1791–1814

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pp. 23-48

The eras of the French Revolution and Napoleon together composed the foundational period of trial by jury in France. During this time, the basic rules and machinery governing the jury were put into place for the next century and a half. The institution was introduced in a wave of Enlightenment...

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Chapter Two: THE "JURYS CENSITAIRES," 1815–1848

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pp. 49-86

The periods of the Bourbon Restoration (1815–30) and the July Monarchy (1830–48) together marked the era of the “Jurys Censitaires,” when the panels were composed almost exclusively of notables. In addition, at least two major developments distinguished the era...

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Chapter Three: THE GREAT TURNING POINT: The Juries of the Second Republic and Second Empire, 1848–1870

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pp. 87-110

The eras of the Second Republic (1848–52) and Second Empire (1852–70) witnessed the most important turning point in the history of the jury in France from the Revolution to World War II. Whereas the primary response of the authorities to jury sanction nullification...

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Chapter Four: THE JURIES OF THE REPUBLIC, 1870–1914

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pp. 111-140

Between the proclamation of the Third Republic in 1870 and the outbreak of World War I in 1914, a crucial shift began in regard to liberal support of the jury system. During the earliest years of the Third Republic...

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pp. 141-157

It was not long before magistrates began to respond to the increased jury nullification of the era after 1880 by renewing their attacks on the jury system. But the new criticisms were different from those of the past, and they entailed a major irony...

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Chapter Six: THE TRIUMPH OF EXPERTS OVER JURORS: Justice in France since World War I

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pp. 158-176

The Positivists of the pre–World War I era laid the intellectual foundations for the destruction of the independent jury system in France. By 1941, the opponents of that system had finally gathered the strength to destroy it. Several powerful political forces combined with intellectual ones to bring about this outcome...

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pp. 177-184

In France, jurors were supposed to answer a series of questions concerning the “facts” of a case and leave “law” (penalty) to the judges. Yet for a century and a half, juries frequently resorted to nullification. Sometimes this was nullification of the law itself, as in political cases and in certain “routine” felony cases where social norms conflicted with the letter...


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pp. 185-236


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pp. 237-246


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pp. 247-262

E-ISBN-13: 9781469604404
E-ISBN-10: 146960440X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807833636
Print-ISBN-10: 0807833630

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Studies in Legal History