Mixed Court and Jury Court: Could the Continental Alternative Fill the American Need

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American Bar Foundation Research Journal


For cases of serious crime a number of European countries employ a variant of the jury called the mixed court, in which laymen and professional judges sit together in a single panel that deliberates and decides on all issues of verdict and sentence. Trials in the mixed court proceed quite rapidly, in large measure because the mixed court dispenses with most of the time-consuming practices of jury control that characterize Anglo-American trial procedure. Consequently, the legal system can process all cases of serious crime to full trial. The present article describes the German mixed-court system and contrasts it with the American jury, asking to what extent the mixed court serves the purposes of the jury. The conclusion is that the mixed court serves the jury policies well, though not fully; and that it is a superior alternative to the indigenous nontrial devices--plea bargaining and bench trial--that have displaced the jury from routine American practice.

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