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Hastings International and Comparative Law Review

Abstract

In 1995, Spain promulgated legislation reintroducing trial by jury in criminal cases. In this Article, Professor Thaman sets forth the history of jury trial in Spain, the movement towards its revival, and a detailed survey of the new juries in practice.

This Article describes the participatory right behind the jury statute and the crimes subject to its jurisdiction. It sets forth the composition of the juries and the qualifications for jury service. After a detailed examination of pre-trial procedure in the jury system, it describes jury selection and then the presentation of evidence before Spanish juries and the modification of pleadings.

Professor Thaman next sets forth the Spanish method for case settlement, the institution of conformidad. The Article describes, step-by-step, each phase of a jury decision in practice, from closing arguments to the verdict forms, the verdict, and the roles of the judge and the reviewing appellate courts. In each area, the Article uses examples from the first jury trials held in Spain.

The Article concludes with an assessment of the new Spanish jury law. Professor Thaman addresses questions on the relative toughness of the Spanish juries as well as the tensions between the jury, the private prosecutor, and the public prosecutor. He then describes problems with the jury system, which range from length and cost to means by which courts avoid jury trials altogether. Finally, this Article uses the politically explosive Otegi trial to test the overall merit of the new law.

Extensive appendices of the first jury trials and the Olegi case follow the Article.

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