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Anatomy of a French Murder Case

NCJ Number
Bron McKillop
Date Published
114 pages
This volume details all stages of a case in France that involved charges of murder and aggravated assault; the discussion aims to provide basic empirical information aid understanding of the French criminal justice system.
Information came from observations of the entire hearing; a review of the case dossier that included pretrial proceedings; and interviews with the prosecutor, the attorneys for the accused person and for the victims, and the judge in charge of the investigation. Additional information came from the press reporting of the hearing, a copy of the judgment on appeal to another court, and an interview of the accused person. The hearing took place in a court (cour d’assises) in Le Mans, France, on April 5 and 6, 1993. The court was the type that hears the most serious criminal cases. The defendant allegedly injured his wife and murdered the man with whom his wife, who had initiated divorce proceedings, had formed a relationship. The defendant was convicted to 18 years of imprisonment, two-thirds of which was to be served before release. The analysis concluded that the hearing or trial does little more than present in public the results of the investigation, and that the characteristics of the investigation become the characteristics of the whole criminal justice system. Thus, the dossier produced by the investigation has a crucial role. The system is essentially a written one. Findings also suggested that certain aspects from the French system might address specific concerns expressed about the adversarial system. Footnotes, index, and appended judgment from the court