Should a victim represented by counsel be permitted to participate in a criminal trial

September 12, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Good morning:

PYorck posted a comment last night on the Dr. Shiping Bao thread regarding a legal procedure in Germany that permits victims or families of homicide victims to play a role in a trial.

Here is his comment and my response.

What do you all think?

PYorck’s Comment:

Here in Germany it is possible for victims of certain violent crimes or their families in case of homicides to play an active role in a trial as the ‘subsidiary prosecution’.

If they want to be actively involved, they are represented by a lawyer. During the trial this ‘subsidiary prosecution’ has most of the rights of the regular prosecution. They can introduce evidence, provide witnesses including experts, question both of those, make statements… They also get full access to discovery and are allowed to be present throughout the trial even if they are witnesses. The major things they can’t do is charging anyone and appealing sentences.

Obviously something like this could have made a huge difference in this case.

I am curious what you think of this?

My response:

My knee-jerk reaction is negative because I’m thinking that too many cooks can spoil the stew. With two lawyers pushing the prosecution in different directions, the prosecution might appear to lose focus, which a clever defense lawyer might exploit as an example of reasonable doubt.

On the other hand, the mere presence of the victim’s lawyer might function to keep the prosecution honest. I like that aspect.

I’m going to make a new post out of the idea. Let’s see what others think.

Good comment.

Going to try something new: a poll.

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