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The development of the criminal law of evidence in the Netherlands, France and Germany between 1750 and 1870: From the system of legal proofs to the free evaluation of the evidence

Bloemberg, R. G., 2018, [Groningen]: University of Groningen. 390 p.

Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

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  • Ronnie Gerard Bloemberg
The thesis describes the development of the criminal law of evidence in the Netherlands, France and Germany between 1750 and 1870. In this period the development occurred that the so-called system of legal proofs was replaced with the (largely) free evaluation of the evidence. The system of legal proofs, which had functioned since the late middle ages, prescribed that a judge could only convict someone when he had the testimony of two eyewitnesses or a confession. When there was less strong evidence he could apply judicial torture to obtain a confession from the suspect.
Between 1750 and 1870 the system of legal proofs was replaced with the free evaluation of the evidence. The legal evidentiary rules were abolished and now the possibility to convict someone depended on the internal conviction of the judge or jurors. The thesis of this research is that this transition was induced by a change in the underlying epistemological and political-constitutional discourses. The change in the epistemological discourse consisted of the emergence of a probabilistic conception of the certainty that was required in criminal cases, which made the system of legal proofs seem untenable. The change in the political-constitutional discourse was based on a development in natural law theories which made the use of judicial torture seem unacceptable. Together these two changed discourses provided the underlying ideas which inspired a significant reform of the criminal law of evidence.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date6-Sep-2018
Place of Publication[Groningen]
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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