Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by Jacqueline E. Ross and Stephen C. Thaman
Chapter 10: Rumba justice and the Spanish jury trial
It is the aim of this chapter to provide a tentative description and explanation for what some scholars have described as the ongoing Americanization of the Continental European criminal process.1 I will examine the Spanish jury trial as a special case of a more general phenomenon. During the last few decades, European criminal procedures underwent extensive reforms and in Continental Europe the American adversary system often became the reference model for the overhaul.2 Legal institutions like hearsay prohibition, cross-examination, jury trial, or a governmental pre-trial investigation conducted by the police and the public prosecutor as opposed to a judicial pre-trial investigation conducted by the investigating magistrate, traveled from the American criminal procedure system to its European counterparts. Commentators often insist that American influence has made European criminal procedure more ‘adversarial’.3Did this diffusion of legal institutions from the American system really end up making European criminal procedure systems more adversarial?4 Is it plausible that, to the contrary, embedded in the new context, American legal arrangements lost their resemblance to the original model? I will argue that the American import did not alter the non-adversary structure of the recipient European criminal procedure but instead melded with and even strengthened the non-adversarial Continental way of searching for the truth. The present chapter tries to trace the influence of American criminal procedure on European legal institutions through a case study of the Spanish jury system, which was loosely modeled on that of the United States.
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