Trial on indictment in nineteenth century England
The aim of this thesis is to assess how far trial on indictment in nineteenth century England conformed to -." the present day concept of a fair trial. What by contemporary English standards are considered the essential elements of a fair trial the thesis deduces from current statute and case law. Having identified these elements it attempts to discover how far they were present in the nineteenth century system. The analysis broadly follows the chronology of the trial itself, with particular attention paid to legal aid, the campaign to abolish the rule rendering prisoners and their spouses incompetent as witnesses in their own defence, and appellate remedies. The conclusion reached is that, although at the start of the nineteenth century the trial system fell well short of the twentieth century model, by the century's end it had (except in relation to legal aid and appellate remedies) moved much closer to it. For its analysis of the trial system the research draws upon eighteenth and nineteenth century law texts supplemented by evidence as to trial practice gleaned from contemporary reports of trials (in particular the reports in The Times, the Central Criminal Court Sessions Papers and Legal Journals), legal memoirs and biographies, and unpublished material in the Public " Record Office and elsewhere. The most important single unpublished source consulted has been the notebooks which record the reserved criminal cases which came before the Common Law judges between'*1785 and 1828. Reports of Royal Commissions, and Select Committees, draft Bills and the Reports of Parliamentary Debates (supplemented by articles in newspapers and journals) have provided the raw material upon which the account given of the reforms made and attempted during the century is based.