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An inquisitorial system is a
legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems A system is a group of interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and infl ...
in which the
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...

court
, or a part of the court, is actively involved in investigating the facts of the case. This is distinct from an
adversarial system The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by v ...
, in which the role of the court is primarily that of an impartial referee between the
prosecution A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tr ...
and the
defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is ty ...
. Inquisitorial systems are used primarily in countries with civil legal systems, such as
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
and
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
, or legal systems based on
Islamic law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a religious law Religious law includes ethical and moral codes taught by religious traditions. Different religious systems hold sacred law in a greater or lesser degree of importance to their beli ...
like Saudi Arabia, rather than in
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
systems. It is the prevalent legal system in
Continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical region ...

Continental Europe
,
Latin America * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area = , population = ( est.) , density = , ethnic_groups = , ethnic_groups_year = 2018 , ethnic ...

Latin America
,
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n countries not formerly under British rule,
East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia, which is defined in both Geography, geographical and culture, ethno-cultural terms. The modern State (polity), states of East Asia include China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan. ...

East Asia
(except
Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a List of cities in China, city and Special administrative regions of China, special administrative region of China on the ...

Hong Kong
),
Indochina Mainland Southeast Asia, also known as the Indochinese Peninsula or Indochina, is the continental portion of Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...
,
Thailand Thailand ( th, ประเทศไทย), historically known as Siam, () officially the Kingdom of Thailand, is a country in Southeast Asia. It is located at the centre of the Mainland Southeast Asia, Indochinese Peninsula, spanning , wi ...

Thailand
, the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
, and
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
. Most countries with an inquisitorial system also have some form of
civil code A civil code is a codification of private law relating to property law, property, family law, family, and law of obligations, obligations. A jurisdiction that has a civil code generally also has a code of civil procedure. In some jurisdictions w ...
as their main source of law. Countries using common law, including the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, may use an inquisitorial system for summary hearings in the case of
misdemeanor A misdemeanor (American English, spelled misdemeanour elsewhere) is any "lesser" crime, criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punishment, punished less severely than more serious felony, felonies, but theoret ...
s or infractions, such as minor traffic violations. The distinction between an adversarial and inquisitorial system is theoretically unrelated to the distinction between a civil legal and common-law system. Some legal scholars consider ''inquisitorial'' misleading, and prefer the word nonadversarial. The function is often vested in the office of the public procurator, as in
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
,
Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or political entity. It is often referred to as the land of an in ...

Japan
, and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
.


Overview

In an inquisitorial system, the trial judges (mostly plural in serious crimes) are inquisitors who actively participate in fact-finding public inquiry by questioning defense lawyers, prosecutors, and witnesses. They could even order certain pieces of evidence to be examined if they find presentation by the defense or prosecution to be inadequate. Prior to the case getting to trial, magistrate judges (''
juges d'instruction
juges d'instruction
'' in France) participate in the investigation of a case, often assessing material by police and consulting with the prosecutor. The inquisitorial system applies to questions of
criminal procedure Criminal procedure is the adjudication Adjudication is the legal process by which an arbitration, arbiter or judge reviews evidence (law), evidence and argumentation, including legal reasoning set forth by opposing parties or litigants, to come ...
at trial, not
substantive law Substantive law is the set of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its envir ...
; that is, it determines how criminal inquiries and trials are conducted, not the kind of crimes for which one can be prosecuted or the sentences that they carry. It is most readily used in some civil legal systems. However, some jurists do not recognize this dichotomy, and see procedure and substantive legal relationships as being interconnected and part of a theory of
justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields, with many differing viewpoints and perspectives, ...

justice
as applied differently in various legal cultures. In an
adversarial system The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by v ...
, judges focus on the issues of
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
and procedure and act as a referee in the contest between the
defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is ty ...
and the
prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tr ...
.
Juries A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial verdict In law, a verdict is the formal finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. In a bench trial, the judge's d ...

Juries
decide matters of fact, and sometimes matters of the law. Neither
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
nor jury can initiate an inquiry, and judges rarely ask
witness In law, a witness is someone who has knowledge about a matter, whether they have sensed it or are testifying on another witnesses' behalf. In law a witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence, ei ...
es questions directly during
trial In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by i ...

trial
. In some United States jurisdictions, it is common practice for jurors to submit questions to the court that they believe were not resolved in
direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calc ...
or
cross-examination In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by one's opponent. It is preceded by direct examination (in Republic of Ireland, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, South Africa, India and Pakistan known as examin ...
. After
testimony In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. Etymology The words "testimony" and "testify" both derive from the Latin word ''testis'', referring to the notion of a disinterested Third-party source, thir ...
and other
evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epistemology, evidence ...
are presented and summarized in arguments, the jury will declare a
verdict In law, a verdict is the formal trier of fact, finding of fact made by a jury on matters or questions submitted to the jury by a judge. In a bench trial, the judge's decision near the end of the trial is simply referred to as a finding. In Engla ...
(literally ''true statement'') and, in some jurisdictions, the reasoning behind the verdict. But discussions among jurors cannot be made public except in extraordinary circumstances. Appeals on the basis of factual issues, such as sufficiency of the sum total of evidence that was properly admitted, are subject to a
standard of review In law, the standard of review is the amount of Judicial deference, deference given by one court (or some other appellate tribunal) in reviewing a decision of a lower court or tribunal. A low standard of review means that the decision under review w ...
that is in most jurisdictions deferential to the judgment of the fact-finder at trial, be that a judge or a jury. The failure of a prosecutor to disclose evidence to the defense, for example, or a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights (
legal representation In civil proceedings and criminal prosecutions under the common law, a defendant A defendant is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or ...
,
right to remain silent Rights are legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is describe ...
, an open and public trial) can trigger a dismissal or re-trial. In some adversarial jurisdictions (e.g., the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
), a prosecutor cannot appeal a "not guilty" verdict (absent corruption or gross
malfeasance Misfeasance, nonfeasance, and malfeasance are types of failure to discharge public obligations existing by common law, custom, or statuteA statute reffers to the body of law that are made by legislature of the nation with instrument which govern ...
by the court). In adversarial systems, the defendant may plead "
guilty Guilty or The Guilty may refer to: * Guilt (emotion), an experience that occurs when a person believes they have violated a moral standard Law *Culpability, the degree to which an agent can be held responsible for action or inaction *Guilt (law), ...
" or "
no contest ' is a legal term that comes from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through ...
," in exchange for reduced sentences, a practice known as
plea bargain A plea bargain (also plea agreement or plea deal) is an agreement in criminal law proceedings, whereby the prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known ...
ing, or a plea deal, which is an extremely common practice in the United States. In theory, the defendant must allocute or "voice" his or her crimes in open court, and the judge must believe the defendant is telling the truth about his or her guilt. In an inquisitorial system, a
confession A confession is a statement – made by a person or by a group of persons – acknowledging some personal fact that the person (or the group) would ostensibly prefer to keep hidden. The term presumes that the speaker is providing information th ...
of guilt would not be regarded as ground for a guilty verdict. The prosecutor is required to provide evidence supporting a guilty verdict. But this requirement is not unique to inquisitorial systems, as many or most adversarial systems impose a similar requirement under the name ''
corpus delicti (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it b ...
''.


History

Until the development of the Catholic
Medieval Inquisition The Medieval Inquisition was a series of Inquisition, Inquisitions (Catholic Church bodies charged with suppressing heresy) from around 1184, including the Episcopal Inquisition (1184–1230s) and later the Papal Inquisition (1230s). The Medieval ...
in the 12th century, the legal systems used in medieval
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
generally relied on the adversarial system to determine whether someone should be tried and whether a person was guilty or innocent. Under this system, unless people were caught in the act of committing crimes, they could not be tried until they had been formally accused by their victim, the voluntary accusations of a sufficient number of witnesses, or by an
inquest An inquest is a judicial inquiry in common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, gener ...
(an early form of
grand jury A grand jury is a jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivi ...
) convened specifically for that purpose. A weakness of this system was that, because it relied on the voluntary accusations of witnesses, and because the penalties for making a false accusation were severe, victims and would-be witnesses could be hesitant to make accusations to the court, for fear of implicating themselves. Because of the difficulties in deciding cases, procedures such as
trial by ordeal Trial by ordeal was an ancient judicial practice by which the guilt or innocence of the accused was determined by subjecting them to a painful, or at least an unpleasant, usually dangerous experience. In Middle Ages, medieval Europe, like trial by ...
or
combat Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (Hand-to-hand combat, not using weapons). Combat is sometim ...
were accepted. Beginning in 1198,
Pope Innocent III Pope Innocent III ( la, Innocentius III; 1160 or 1161 – 16 July 1216), born Lotario dei Conti di Segni (anglicized as Lothar of Segni Segni (, ) is an Italy, Italian town and ''comune'' located in Lazio. The city is situated on a hilltop i ...

Pope Innocent III
issued a series of decretals that reformed the ecclesiastical court system. Under the new (inquisitional procedure), an ecclesiastical magistrate no longer required a formal accusation to summon and try a defendant. Instead, an
ecclesiastical court An ecclesiastical court, also called court Christian or court spiritual, is any of certain court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized commu ...
could summon and interrogate witnesses of its own initiative. If the (possibly secret) testimony of those witnesses accused a person of a crime, that person could be summoned and tried. In 1215, the
Fourth Council of the Lateran The Fourth Council of the Lateran or Lateran IV was convoked by Pope Innocent III in April 1213 and opened at the Lateran Palace in Rome on 11 November 1215. Due to the great length of time between the Council's convocation and meeting, many bi ...
affirmed the use of the inquisitional system. The council forbade clergy from conducting trials by ordeal or combat. As a result, in parts of continental Europe, the ecclesiastical courts operating under the inquisitional procedure became the dominant method by which disputes were adjudicated. In France, the — lay courts — also employed inquisitorial proceedings. In England, however, King
Henry II Henry II may refer to: Kings *Henry II of England (1133–89), reigned from 1154 *Henry II of Jerusalem and Cyprus (1271–1324), reigned from 1285; king of Jerusalem in name only from 1291 *Henry II of Castile (1334–79), reigned 1366–67 and ...

Henry II
had established separate secular courts during the 1160s. While the ecclesiastical courts of England, like those on the continent, adopted the inquisitional system, the secular
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
courts continued to operate under the adversarial system. The adversarial principle that a person could not be tried until formally accused continued to apply for most criminal cases. In 1215 this principle became enshrined as article 38 of the
Magna Carta (Medieval Latin for "Great Charter of Freedoms"), commonly called (also ''Magna Charta''; "Great Charter"), is a Royal charter, royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, Berkshire, Windsor, on ...

Magna Carta
: "No bailiff for the future shall, upon his own unsupported complaint, put anyone to his law, without credible witnesses brought for this purposes." The first territory to wholly adopt the inquisitional system was the
Holy Roman Empire The Holy Roman Empire ( la, Sacrum Romanum Imperium; german: Heiliges Römisches Reich) was a multi-ethnic complex of territories in Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town i ...
. The new German legal process was introduced as part of the of 1498 and then the of 1507. The adoption of the ( of
Charles VCharles V may refer to: * Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, german: Karl V, it, Carlo V, nl, Karel V, la, Carolus V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor The Holy Roman Emperor, originally and offici ...

Charles V
) in 1532 made inquisitional procedures empirical law. It was not until
Napoleon Napoléon Bonaparte (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a French military and political leader. He rose to prominence during the French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) refers to the period that began with the Estates General o ...

Napoleon
introduced the (French code of criminal procedure) on November 16, 1808, that the classical procedures of inquisition were ended in all German territories. In the development of modern legal institutions that took place in the 19th century, for the most part jurisdictions codified their
private law Private law is that part of a civil law Civil law may refer to: * Civil law (common law) Civil law is a major branch of the law.Glanville Williams. ''Learning the Law''. Eleventh Edition. Stevens. 1982. p. 2. In common law legal systems such as ...
and
criminal law Criminal law is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its env ...
, and reviewed and codified the rules of
civil procedure Civil procedure is the body of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its e ...
as well. It was through this development that the role of an inquisitorial system became enshrined in most European civilian legal systems. However, there exist significant differences of operating methods and procedures between 18th century courts and 19th-century courts. In particular, limits on the powers of investigators were typically added, as well as increased rights of the defense. It is too much of a generalization to say that the civil law is purely inquisitorial and the common law adversarial. The ancient
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...
custom Custom may refer to: Sense: Customary * Convention (norm) A convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom. In a social context, a convention ma ...
of
arbitration Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), or external dispute resolution (EDR), typically denotes a wide range of dispute resolution processes and techniques that act as a means for disag ...
has now been adapted in many common-law jurisdictions to a more inquisitorial form. In some mixed civil law systems, such as those in
Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...
,
Quebec ) , image_shield=Armoiries du Québec.svg , image_flag=Flag of Quebec.svg , coordinates= , AdmittanceDate=July 1, 1867 , AdmittanceOrder=1st, with New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , ...
, and
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...
, while the substantive law is civil in nature and evolution, the procedural codes that have developed over the last few hundred years are based upon the English adversarial system.


Modern usage


France

The main feature of the inquisitorial system in
criminal justice Criminal justice is the delivery of justice Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve, with the interpretation of what then constitutes "deserving" being impacted upon by numerous fields ...
in France, and other countries functioning along the same lines, is the function of the examining or investigating judge (''juge d'instruction''), also called a magistrate judge. The examining judge conducts investigations into serious crimes or complex inquiries. As a member of the
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government i ...
, he or she is independent and outside the province of the executive branch, and therefore separate from the Office of Public Prosecutions, which is supervised by the
Minister of Justice A justice ministry, ministry of justice, or department of justice is a ministry or other government agency in charge of the administration of justice. The ministry or department is often headed by a minister of justice (minister for justice in a ...
. Despite high media attention and frequent portrayals in TV series, examining judges are active in a small minority of cases. In 2005, there were 1.1 million criminal rulings in France, while only 33,000 new cases were investigated by judges.
Les chiffres-clés de la Justice
', French Ministry of Justice, October 2006
The vast majority of cases are therefore investigated directly by law enforcement agencies (
police The police are a Law enforcement organization, constituted body of Law enforcement officer, persons empowered by a State (polity), state, with the aim to law enforcement, enforce the law, to ensure the safety, health and possessions of citize ...
,
gendarmerie Wrong info! --> A vedette of the French ''Gendarmerie Maritime'' in La Rochelle harbour A gendarmerie () is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily ...
) under the supervision of the Office of Public Prosecutions (''procureurs''). Examining judges are used for serious crimes, e.g.,
murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. ("The killing of another person w ...

murder
and
rape Rape is a type of sexual assault Sexual assault is an act in which one intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. ...

rape
, and for crimes involving complexity, such as
embezzlement Embezzlement is the act of withholding asset In financial accounting Financial accounting is the field of accounting Accounting or Accountancy is the measurement, processing, and communication of financial and non financial informa ...
, misuse of public funds, and
corruption Corruption is a form of dishonesty Dishonesty is to act without honesty ''Diogenes Searching for an Honest Man'', attributed to J. H. W. Tischbein () Honesty or truthfulness is a facet Facets () are flat faces on geometric shapes. The org ...
. The case may be brought before the examining judge either by the public prosecutor (''procureur'') or, more rarely, by the victim (who may compel an ''instruction'' even if the public prosecutor rules the charges to be insufficient). The judge questions witnesses, interrogates suspects, and orders
search Searching or search may refer to: Computing technology * Search algorithm In computer science, a search algorithm is an algorithm (typically involving a multitude of other, more specific algorithms ) which solves a search problem. Search al ...
es for other investigations. Their role is not to prosecute the accused, but to gather facts, and as such their duty is to look for any and all
evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epistemology, evidence ...
, whether incriminating or exculpatory (''à charge et à décharge''). Both the
prosecution A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tr ...
and the
defense Defense or defence may refer to: Tactical, martial, and political acts or groups * Defense (military) A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is ...
may request the judge to act, and may appeal the judge's decisions before an appellate court. The scope of the inquiry is limited by the mandate given by the prosecutor's office: the examining judge cannot open a criminal investigation ''
sua sponte In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its b ...
.'' In the past the examining judge could order committal of the accused, this power being subject to appeal. However, this is no longer authorized, and other judges have to approve a committal order. If the examining judge decides there is a valid case against a suspect, the accused is sent for adversarial trial by jury. The examining judge does not sit on the trial court which tries the case and is prohibited from sitting for future cases involving the same defendant. The case is tried before the court in a manner similar to that of adversarial courts: the prosecution (and on occasion a plaintiff) seeks the conviction of accused criminals, the defense attempts to rebut the prosecution claims, and the
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
and
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
draw their conclusions from the evidence presented at trial. As a result of judicial investigation and defendants being able to have judicial proceedings dismissed on procedural grounds during the examining phase, cases where the evidence is weak tend not to reach the trial stage. Conversely, the guilty
plea In legal terms, a plea is simply an answer to a claim made by someone in a criminal case under common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions ...

plea
and
plea bargain A plea bargain (also plea agreement or plea deal) is an agreement in criminal law proceedings, whereby the prosecutor A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in states with either the common law In law, common law (also known ...
ing were until recently unknown to French law. They are accepted only for crimes for which the prosecution seeks a sentence not exceeding one year imprisonment. Therefore, most cases go to trial, including cases where the prosecution is almost sure to gain a conviction. In countries such as the United States, the latter cases would be settled by plea bargain.


Other types


Administrative justice

In
administrative court An administrative court is a type of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Art ...
s, such as the
Council of State A Council of State is a governmental body in a country, or a subdivision of a country, with a function that varies by jurisdiction. It may be the formal name for the cabinet Cabinet or The Cabinet may refer to: Furniture * Cabinetry, a box-sha ...
, litigation proceedings are markedly more inquisitorial. Most of the procedure is conducted in writing; the plaintiff writes to the court, which asks explanations from the administration or public service concerned; when answered, the court may then ask further detail from the plaintiff, etc. When the case is sufficiently complete, the lawsuit opens in court; however, the parties are not required to attend the court appearance. This method reflects the fact that administrative lawsuits are for the most part about matters of formal procedure and technicalities.


Inquisitorial tribunals within the United States

Certain administrative proceedings within some common-law jurisdictions in the United States may be similar to their civil law counterparts but are conducted on a more inquisitorial model. For instance tribunals dealing with minor traffic violations at the New York City Traffic Violations Bureau are held before an adjudicator, who also functions as a prosecutor. They question witnesses before rendering judgements and setting fines. These types of tribunals or boards function as an expedited form of justice, in which the state agents conduct an initial investigation and the adjudicator's job is to confirm these preliminary findings through a simplified form of procedure that grants some basic amount of
due process Due process is the legal requirement that the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspa ...
or
fundamental justice In Canadian and New Zealand law, fundamental justice is the fairness underlying the administration of justice and its operation. The principles of fundamental justice are specific legal principles that command "significant societal consensus" as ...
. The accused party has an opportunity to place his or her objections on the record.


References


Bibliography

*
Antonia Fiori, "''Quasi denunciante fama'' : note sull’introduzione del processo tra rito accusatorio e inquisitorio", in ''Der Einfluss der Kanonistik auf die europäische Rechtskultur'', 3. ''Strafrecht und Strafprozeß'', éd. O. Condorelli, Fr. Roumy, M. Schmoeckel, Cologne, Weimar, Vienne, 2012, p. 351-367, online
* Richard M. Fraher, « IV Lateran's Revolution in Criminal Procédure : the Birth of ''inquisitio'', the End of Ordeals and Innocent III's Vision of Ecclesiastical Politics », dans ''Studia in honorem eminentissimi cardinalis Alphonsi M. Stickler'', éd. Rosalius Josephus Castillo Lara, Rome, Librairie Ateneo Salesiano (Pontificia studiorum universitas salesiana, Facilitas juris canonici, Studia et textus historie juris canonici, 7), 1992, p. 97-111. * Lotte Kéry, « ''Inquisitio-denunciatio-exceptio'' : Möglichkeiten der Verfahrenseinleitung im Dekretalenrecht », ''Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Kanonistische Abteilung'', 87, 2001, p. 226-268. *
Julien Théry, « ''fama'' : L’opinion publique comme preuve. Aperçu sur la révolution médiévale de l'inquisitoire (XIIe-XIVe s.) », in ''La preuve en justice de l'Antiquité à nos jours'', ed. Br. Lemesle, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2003, p. 119-147, online

Julien Théry-Astruc, "Judicial Inquiry as an Instrument of Centralized Government : The Papacy’s Criminal Proceedings against Prelates in the Age of Theocracy (mid-12th to mid-14th century)", in "Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Medieval Canon Law", Città del Vaticano, 2016, p. 875-889, online
* Winfried Trusen, « Der Inquisitionsprozess : seine historischen Grundlagen und frühen Formen », ''Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, ''Kanonistische Abteilung'', 74, 1988, p. 171-215.


Further reading

* French Code of Penal Procedure (''Code de procédure pénale'') *
legislative part
*
regulatory section
— regulations taken after advice of the '' Conseil d'État''
American Law Encyclopedia: Inquisitorial System
{{DEFAULTSORT:Inquisitorial System Judiciaries Legal history Legal systems Tribunals of the Catholic Church