University of Southern California

Lessons from Inquisitorialism

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Article by Christopher Slobogin
From Volume 87, Number 3 (March, 2014)

As implemented in the United States, the adversarial system is a significant cause of wrongful convictions, wrongful acquittals, and “wrongful” sentences. Empirical evidence suggests that a hybrid inquisitorial regime can reduce these erroneous results. This Article proposes that the American trial process incorporate three inquisitorial mechanisms—judicial control over the adjudication process, nonadversarial treatment of experts, and required unsworn testimony by the defendant—and defends the proposal against constitutional and practical challenges. While other scholars have suggested borrowing from overseas, these three proposals have yet to be presented as a package. Together they might measurably enhance the accuracy of the American criminal justice system.

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