18 March 2012 Written by  Aderajew Teklu and Kedir Mohammed

Sources of Criminal Procedure Rules


The English System, the Sources of Law

The major current source of English criminal procedure is Acts of parliament, of which some 150 bear upon the subject. Some of these have what might be called in a loose sense ‘constitutional status’, notably Magna Carta 1215, the Bill of Rights Act 1688, and more recently the Human Rights Act 1998, incorporating most of the European Convention on Human Rights. But this special status, in so far as it exists, means no more than that these statutes are well known and particularly revered. They are certainly not entrenched in the sense that some special procedure must be followed to amend or repeal them. Over the years the greater part of Magna Carta has been repealed, some of it quite unceremoniously, and in law there is nothing to prevent parliament repealing the Human Rights Act if it so desires. Indeed, so great was the desire to preserve the supremacy of parliament when the Human Rights Act was passed that Parliament stopped short of giving the court the power to declare invalid other Acts of Parliament if they were found to conflict with it.

Of the other less high-profile statutes, a few, such as the Justice of the Peace Act 1361, are very old, but most are comparatively modern. Some were to codify a particular area of the law, such as juries or police powers, but many are legislative rag-bags containing an assortment of odds and ends, and usually called ‘the criminal justice Act 1987’, or something equally uninformative. At present, the following important areas of criminal procedure are largely regulated by big and important Acts of Parliament: the structure of the courts, and the proceedings each is competent to handle (Criminal Appeal Act 1968, Supreme Court Act 1981, Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980); the appointment and tenure of judges and magistrates (Supreme Court Act 1981, Justices of the Peace Act 1997); the appointment, powers and duties of public prosecutors (Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, Criminal Justice Act 1987); jurors and juries (Juries Act 1974); and the structure of police forces (Police Act 1996, Police Act 1997). Also largely statutory are the powers of the police to investigate offences (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, usually known as PACE), and the investigative powers of the Serious Fraud Office and of Customs and Excise (Criminal Justice Act 1987, Customs and Excise Management Act 1979). The rules governing the pre-trial phase are a mixture of common law and statutory provisions; important Acts of parliament include the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, the Bail Act 1976, the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 and the Indictments Act 1915. The conduct of the trial, including the rules of criminal evidence, is composed of a similar mix; major statutes include the Criminal Evidence Act 1898) and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. The rules about sentencing, on the other hand, are almost entirely statutory and were recently consolidated in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. The same is true about the rules of appeals; appeals from magistrates’ courts are largely governed by the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, and appeals from the crown court by the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 (as heavily amended by the Criminal Appeal Act 1995).

The source for many of the detailed rules of criminal procedure is delegated legislation, in particular the various sets of court rules: at present these are the Magistrates’ Court Rules, the Crown Court Rules and the Criminal Appeal rules, all of which are made by Rules Committees. Other important rule-making powers are exercised by ministers notably the home secretary, who makes, inter alia, the rules about how long persons may be held in custody pending trial. This delegated legislation, which counts as a form of statute law, is supplemented by a range of other official documents that do not have the same high legal status although the courts and the personnel of the criminal justice system are inclined to obey them. These include various codes of practice (in particular those issued for the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984), Home Office circulars issued to the police, guidelines issued to prosecutors by the attorney-general, practice directions issued by the senior judiciary to supplement the rules of court, and the official advice issued to judges on the conduct of cases by the Judicial Studies Board.

As a source of English criminal procedure, case law is doubly important. First, as in other countries, many of the major statutory provisions are surrounded by a body of case law that explains and interprets them. Secondly, whole areas of criminal procedure are regulated by case law and nothing else. Examples include the law on abuse of process, and large parts of the law of evidence.

In the absence of a code of criminal procedure the rules of English criminal procedure must sometimes be deducted from historical sources. These include the History of the Pleas of the Crown by Sir Matthew Hale (1609-76), A treatise of the Pleas of the Crown by William Hawkins (1673-746) and Pleas of the Crown by Sir Edward Hyde East (1764-1847). The standard work on the history of English criminal procedure is Sir James Fitzjames Stephen’s history of the criminal law of England (1883). In addition to this there is the formidable five-volume history of English criminal law by Sir Leon Radzinowicz (1906-99). Since the 1970s our knowledge of the history of English criminal procedure since the sixteenth century has been extended by the researches of a number of legal historians, notably John Langbein and John Beattie.

The French System, Legal Sources

Constitutional Sources

The ‘constitutionalisation’ of the law mainly dates back to the loi constitutionnelle of 29 October 1974, which allowed not only the president of the Republic, the prime minister or the presidents of the Assemblee Nationale and the Senat to invoke the Conseil constitutionnel, but also sixty deputies or senators.

The main body of constitutionality- ‘le bloc de constitutionnalite. The conseil constitutionnel bestowed constitutional value on anumber of general principles not expressly included in the Constitution of 4 October 1958: first, those included in the Declaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen of 26 Augest 1789 (DDHC) and in the introduction to the Constitution of 27 October 1946, then the ‘fundamental principles recognized by the laws of the Republic’ (principles foundamentaux reconnus par les lois de la Republioue (PFLR), referred to as such without being listed more precisely in the introduction to the Constitution of 1946), and finally the ‘objectives with constitutional value’ (objectifs de valeur constitutionelle), an idea elaborated by the conseil constitutionnel in order to ensure the effective implementation of a number of constitutional principles.

The control of constitutionality. The control of constitutionality is a priori, before the law comes in to force. In the case of a judgment of non-conformity, the law voted on by parliament will not be promulgated. After promulgation, referral is impossible; however, the conseil constitutionnel has recognized its power to check the constitutionality of a law in force when subsequent legislation is being examined which ‘after its scope of application, complements it, or, even without changing its effect, modifies it in some way’ (see, in particular, judgment no. 99-416 of 23 July 1999). Neither criminal courts, nor administrative or civil courts, have the power to rule on the constitutionality of the laws that they enforce.

Legislative Sources

Only a statute may create rules of criminal procedure (article 34, Constitution). The code penal (hereafter CP) of 1810 had undergone no radical changes until its revision by the four laws of 22 July 1992, which came in to force on 1 March 1994. However, the new criminal code did not alter the tripartite classification of offences in to crimes, delits and contraventions (articles 111-1 and 111-2, CP), a classification which largely governs how the procedural regulations are organized.

Crimes are offences punished under the law by imprisonment with hard labour or imprisonment for life or for a fixed period of time. Delits are offences punished under the law by imprisonment or a fine of at least E 3,750 (25, ooo FF.). Contraventions are punished by a maximum fine of E 3, 000 (20,000 FF); there are five categories of contravention.

While criminal procedure has not undergone any profound reform since the promulgation of the CPP in 1958, the question of redrafting it has been raised, and in 1988 led to the formation of a committee to reflect on this, the Commission justice penale et droits de I’homme, whose two reports on criminal affairs (La Mise etat des affaires penales) were published in 1991, although the comprehensive reform proposed by this committee was rejected. But over recent years in France-as in England-criminal procedure has been the countinual subject of legislation making partial changes (the laws of 30 December 1985, 9 September 1986, 6 July 1989, 16 December 1992, 4 January and 24 August 1993, 1 February 11994, 8 February 11995, 22 July 996, 30 December 1996, 17 June 11998, 23 June 1999, 15 June 2000, 15 November 2001 and 4 March 2002.). Many of the changes have been controversial, and some again, as in England have been enacted, only to be repealed before they were brought in to force. (There has already been an adverse reaction to the major reforms of 2000. In particular, it has been asserted that the changes which increased the rights of the defendant during the police investigation have led to an increase in crime. In November 2001 and March 2002, two further laws were passed, intended to reverse in part some of the changes which the 2000 reform produced.)

The provisions concerning organization of the courts appear in the code de l’organisation judiciaire instituted by decrets nos. 78-329 and 78-330 of 116 March 1978.

The German System, the Sources of Law (Rechtsquellen)

Germany is a Federal Republic consisting of sixteen Lander: these are territorial units endowed with wide powers and their own decision-making bodies. Such a structure leads to a superimposition of the various sources of law: at the top is the Grundgesetz (the German Constitution); then Federal law and regulations; and finally the constitutions, the laws and the regulations of the Lander.

Constitutional Sources

Das Grundgesetz (the German Constitution). The purpose of the Grundgesetz of 23 May 1949 (hereafter GG) was to re-establish a State where the rule of law prevailed (Rechtsstaat) after the twelve years of the Third Reich, and it draws upon the classical sources of liberal democracy. The fundamental guarantees which it sets out, adapted to the demands of the modern world, thus join the traditional human rights born out of the French Revolution. The impact of these rights in the field of criminal procedure appears particularly strong as they are binding on the legislator, administration (public prosecutors) and judges ‘in the form of directly applicable law’ (article 1 Para. 3, GG).

Control of constitutionality. The bundesverfassungsgerich (Federal constitutional Court), set up under article 92 ff., GG, is situated in Karlsruhe. It is one of the central mechanisms of the legal order as it was designed, on the one hand, as a constitutional court and, on the other, as an instrument of political stability between the various organs of the State.

Its various powers in its capacity as a constitutional court can be deduced from article 93: the Court rules on the conflicting opinions and doubts concerning the compatibility of the systems of public law of the Federation and of the Lander, and on constitutional appeals (Verfassungsbeschwerde) made by anyone who believes a fundamental right of his to have been violated by the public authorities. The Court also has the task of final interpretation of the contents. The court also has the task of final interpretation of the contents of the Grundgesetz, resolving any litigation engendered by the application of the Constitution.

As the body that exercises control over the constitutional norms case by case, the Court judges the validity of objections on grounds of constitutionality raised before ordinary courts and strives to integrate the rules of international law in to domestic law (article 100, GG) such as the European Convention on Human Rights (Europaische Menschenrechtskonvention or EMRK).


The Legislative Sources


The StrafprozeBordnung (Code of Criminal Procedure). The StrafprozeBordnung (StPo), dating from 1 February 1877 (in force since 1 October 1879), comprises eight books dealing with:

  • general dispositions (allgemeine Vorschriften) (book one, 1 to 150);
  • procedure at first instance (Verfahren im ersten Rechtszug) (book two, 151 to 295);
  • remedies (Rechtsmittel) (book three, 296 to 358);
  • reopening of a case which has been finally disposed of (Wiederaufnahme eines durch rechtskraftiges Urteil abgeschlossenen Verfahrens) (book four, 359 to 373);
  • the intervention of the victim in the procedure (Beteiligung des Verletzten am Verfahren) book five, 374 to 406);
  • special procedures (Besondere Arten des Verfahrens) (book six, 407 to 448);
  • the implementation of sentences and payment of costs (Strafvollstreckung und Kosten des Verfahrens) (book seven, 449 to 473);
  • federal prosecution register of criminal investigation (Landerubergreifendes staatsanwaltliches Verfahrensregister) (book eight, 474 to 477).

Numerous reforms made it necessary to publish two updating laws of 7 January 1975 and 7 April 1987 (Neubekanntmachung), which have themselves since been modified.

The Gerichtsverfassungsgestz (law on judicial organization). The Gerichtsver-fassungsgestz (GVG) of 27 January 877, republished by a law of 9 May 975, also contains important provisions, which determine the competence of the public prosecutor and of the courts, lay down their internal organization, and set out other special principles relating to judicial activity.

The Strafgesetzbuch (Ciminal Code). Thirdly, the 1871 Strafgesetzbuch (StGB) also contains rules for the criminal procedure. The form in which it was published in 1 January 11975 consists of two parts: one stating the general rules to be applied to all offences (allgemeiner teil), the other containing the particular definitions of the various crimes and Vergehen (Besonderer teil).

In addition, it contains procedural rules, such as the bipartite classification (Zweiteilung) of offences in to Verbrechen (crimes) and Vergehen (misdemeanours), from which the partition of competences of the criminal courts ensues. The criterion for classification depends on the principal penalty to which the perpetrator is exposed.

  • an offence constitutes a Vergehen if it is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of less than one year or a fine (12 II, StGB). Theft, for example, is a Vergehen, as it is punishable by a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment with no minimum penalty being set by law (242, StGB);
  • an offence constitutes a Verbrechen if it is punishable by a minimum prison sentence of at least one year (12 I, StGB).

As a result of this division, an attempted Verbrechen is always punishable, but in the case of an attempted Vergehen only when a text so provides. The participation of a lawyer as a defense counsel is obligatory where the offence is classed as a crime (140 I, No, 2, stop).


The Constitutionalization of Criminal Procedure

(b) The Constitution and Criminal Procedure

To understand how constitutional limitations came to play such a significant role in the legal regulation of the criminal justice process, one must start with the Constitution itself. As originally proposed, the Constitution had only a few provisions relating to the administration of criminal law. But with the addition of the Bill of Rights, designed to ensure that the federal government did not encroach upon the rights of individuals, the criminal justice process took on a special significance in the Constitution.

Of the 27 separate guarantees noted in the first eight Amendments, 15 are aimed specifically at the criminal justice process. The Fourth Amendment guarantees the right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures and prohibits the issuance of warrants unless certain conditions are met. The Fifth Amendment requires prosecution by grand jury indictment for all infamous crimes (excepting certain military prosecutions) and prohibits placing a person “twice in jeopardy” or compelling him to be a “witness against himself.” The Sixth Amendment lists several rights that apply “in all criminal prosecutions”- the rights to a speedy trial, to a public trial, to an impartial jury of the state and district in which the crime was committed, to notice of the “nature and cases of the accusation”, to conformation of opposing witnesses, to compulsory process for obtaining favorable witnesses, and to the assistance of counsel. The Eighth Amendment adds prohibitions against requiring excessive bail, imposing excessive fines, and inflicting cruel and unusual punishment in addition to these fifteen, the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause clearly includes the criminal justice process in its general prohibition against the “deprivation of life, liberty or property” (which includes capital sentencing, incarceration, and fines) without “due process of law.”

Taken together, the various Bill of Rights provisions offer an obvious potential for extensive constitutional regulation of the criminal justice process. Constitutional provisions, however, are not self-defining. Their ultimate impact depends, in large part, upon how they are interpreted by the judiciary in the course of adjudicating individual cases. Thus, it was not until the Supreme Court came to adopt certain critical interpretations of the constitution’s criminal procedure guarantees that the potential for substantial constitutionalisation of the criminal justice process was realized.

(c) Constitutionnalisation and Judicial Interpretation

Two important doctrinal developments were prerequisites to establishing, through Supreme Court rulings, extensive constitutional regulation of the nation’s criminal justice procedures. First, the relevant guarantees in the Bill of Rights had to be made applicable in large part to state proceedings. Although federal criminal jurisdiction has been expanding over the years, almost 99% of all criminal prosecutions still are brought in the state systems. For the Constitution to have a major impact upon criminal justice administration, its criminal procedure provisions had to be held applicable to state as well federal proceedings. That application eventually was achieved through the Supreme Court’s reading of the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause. It I did not come about, however, until the Warren court adopted the “selective incorporation” doctrine in the 1960s, almost 100 years after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment…

The second major doctrinal prerequisite for the extensive constitutionalisation of criminal procedure was adoption of expansive interpretations of individual guarantees. Even though applied to the states, the Bill of Rights guarantees, if interpreted narrowly, would have only a limited impact upon the criminal justice process. A narrow construction of each of the guarantees would produce a constitutional regulatory scheme that governs only a small portion of the total process and imposes there limitations fairly restricted in scope and unlikely to have a significant impact upon traditional state and federal criminal justice practices. Consider, for example, the Fifth Amendment clause stating that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Read narrowly, that provision might be said simply to prohibit the state from compelling the defendant to testify in his criminal trial as to any incriminating aspects of his involvement in the offence charged. Such an interpretation would establish constitutionally an important structural element of an accusatorial process, but its significance would be limited to the trial, and even then, it would only restate a prohibition firmly established in state law. On the other hand, an expensive interpretation of the self-incrimination privilege could render the privilege applicable to a wide range of practices occurring through-out the process, and impose limitations that extend far beyond those found in the law of most (and sometimes even all) states. The Supreme Court has, in fact, done exactly that. Reading the privilege to be “ as broad  as the mischief  against which it seeks to guard,”  Counselman v. Hitchcock (1892), the court has construed the self-incrimination clause to: guarantee to the accused an absolute right not to give any testimony at his trial…; bar procedural restrictions that require an early decision as to the exercise of that right not to testify…; prohibit comment by the prosecutor upon the defendant’s failure to testify…; prohibit the use of compulsory process in other proceedings besides the criminal trial (e.g., grand jury proceedings) to compel a witness to give testimony that could conceivably be used against that witness in a later criminal prosecution…; prohibit admission at trial of statements of the accused obtained by the state through the use of means deemed coercive, such as the threat of removal from public office, Garrity v. N.J. (1967); prohibit admission at trial of statements of the accused given in response to custodial interrogation by police unless the accused had been advised of certain rights (including the right to remain silent) and voluntarily waived those rights…; and prohibit the compulsory production of personal documents under some circumstances…

The Supreme Court’s rulings have not given the self-incrimination clause its broadest conceivable interpretation, one that would take the most expansive general policy suggested by the privilege and extend it without regard to limitations suggested by language, history, or alternative (and narrower) understandings of the privilege’s underlying policy. However, the key to characterizing rulings as expensive is not whether the accepted interpretation is as broad as it conceivably could be, but how the court approaches the interpretation of the guarantee. Expensive interpretations start from a presumption of liberal construction. They treat a constitutional guarantee as reflecting an important policy that must be safeguarded against circumvention and carried forward to meet changed conditions, especially growth in governmental authority. By that standard, the Court’s interpretation of the self-incrimination privilege can be characterized as expensive. Moreover, that characterization also fits, in general, the court’s interpretation of the other Bill of Rights guarantees applicable to the criminal justice process.

The adoption of expansive interpretations of the constitution’s criminal procedure guarantees is not a new phenomenon. Counselman, supra, held in 1892 that the prohibition against compulsory self-incrimination was not limited to barring prosecution compulsion of defendant’s testimony at trial extended to “any proceeding” in which a witness would otherwise be compelled to give testimony that might incriminate him in a subsequent criminal case. Indeed, it is debatable whether any Supreme Court ruling has adopted a broader view of the Forth Amendment than did Boyd v. U.S. (1886)…, also decided before the turn of the century. Until the 1960s, however, Supreme Court opinions adopting strikingly expensive interpretations of criminal procedure guarantees were fairly infrequent. That was changed by the Warren Court. Its 1960s rulings marked the heyday of expansionist interpretation (although not every Warren Court ruling fell in that category). Over the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and the early2000s, fewer and fewer dramatically expansionist ruling were issued. Shifts in the makeup of the Court produced rulings that, in some instances, partially withdrew from the Warren Court’s earlier expansionist rulings, but most often, dealt with issues at the margin or edges of the earlier rulings, and refused to extend those rulings. Also, many of the expansionist rulings of the post-Warren Court era simply consisted of accepting and logically extending the core concepts of the Warren Court’s expansionist rulings. However, over this period, the Court also branched out on occasion to produce new, expansive interpretations in areas barely touched upon by Warren Court rulings.

The above characterization obviously can be disputed, particularly as to the Rehnquist Court, which many commentators have described as decidedly non-expansionist in approach. That is not surprising since any characterization of a Supreme Court ruling as “expansive” or “narrow” rests, in considerable part, upon the eyes of the beholder. A decision that one observer characterizes as broadly expensive because it goes far beyond previous rulings will be seen by another as simply taking a minor step beyond a very restricted starting point because it falls short of rejecting the conceptual grounding of those earlier rulings and leaves the law with a less than totally sweeping view of the particular guarantee. A decision that some would characterize as a major retreat from expansive past rulings others would characterize as largely consistent with those rulings but simply refusing to extend them at the edges. Still, subjective though it may be, the general consensus is that, as compared to the overall character of judicial rulings prior to the 1960s, the Court’s rulings since then have tended to favor more expansive interpretations…

Describing the Fifty-Two Separate Criminal Justice Processes

(a) State and Federal Authority

Under the American version of federalism, the federal (i.e., national) government and each of the fifty states has independent authority to enact criminal codes applicable within the territorial reach of its legislative powers. Each also has the authority to enforce those criminal laws through its own criminal justice process- that is, through its own criminal justice agencies and its own laws of criminal procedure. Thus, we have, in many respects, fifty-one different criminal justice processes in this country, one for each of the states and one for the federal government. A fifty-second jurisdiction is provided by congress’ decision to treat separately the district of Colombia, creating for it a separate criminal code and a separate criminal justice process that stands apart from the federal criminal law and process applied in the federal district courts spread throughout the states.

(b) Federal System That is “One Among Many”

In many fields in which both federal and state governments have the authority to regulate, the federal enforcement system has come to dominate. Federal law is the primary source of regulation and the vast majority of all enforcement actions are brought within the federal adjudicatory structure (administrative or judicial). A similar dominance is not found in the field of criminal law. Utilizing any of the traditional standards for measuring its portion of the nation’s criminal justice workload, the federal criminal justice system is no more than one among many. Indeed, the federal system is responsible each year for less than 2% of the total number of criminal prosecutions in the United States and less than 4% of all felony prosecutions.

(c) The Limits of Mandated Uniformity

The presence of fifty-two separate criminal justice processes would be much less significant if those processes all were subject to a single law that mandated an exclusive, comprehensive regulation for all fifty-two jurisdictions. Contrary to the impression sometimes conveyed by constitutional scholars, the Constitution of the United States is not such a law. This is not to dispute the characterization of federal constitutional law, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, as “our most important source of criminal procedure law.” It is the only source of substantial legal regulation that is applicable to all fifty-two jurisdictions. It locks those fifty-two jurisdictions in to a basic procedural structure that guarantees a community in most of the overarching principles reflected in the fifty-two different processes. The federal constitution, for many aspects of the process, also is the source of specific standards (sometimes quite detailed) that implement those basic principles. Nonetheless … the regulation imposed by the federal constitution is not sufficiently comprehensive nor exclusive to relegate the law of the individual jurisdiction to a relatively insignificant role in the regulation of its criminal justice process. For many aspects of the process, the law of the individual jurisdiction provides for more of the governing standards than does the federal constitution, and even where the federal constitution is dominant, the law of the individual jurisdiction often still plays a significant role.

Another possible source of mandated uniform standards of criminal procedure, applicable in all fifty-two jurisdictions, is congressional legislation. Exactly how far congress may go in adopting criminal procedure rules applicable to the state is uncertain, for congress has used its legislative authority sparingly, concentrating on police activities that have an obvious impact upon interstate commerce (e.g., wiretapping). As a result, standards mandated by federal legislation play a very limited role in shaping the criminal justice processes of the fifty states.

(d) The Tendency to Individualize

In many fields where federal law does not mandate a uniform standard, and each state is free to adopt its own laws, there nonetheless is a fair degree of uniformity in the laws of the fifty- states, as all or almost all of the states have adopted a “model” or “uniform” law proposed by a group such as the National Conference of Commissioners on uniform state laws. For several reasons such uniformity has not been achieved in the field of criminal procedure.

Initially, criminal procedural is not a subject as to which there is a natural pressure to achieve uniformity. Unlike areas such as commercial law, the lack of uniformity here is not likely to be a deterrent to the free flow of goods, services, or persons between states or to restrain the full economic or social development of the individuals within the particular; there is little need to provide reciprocity of process between states. Secondly, individuality in each state’s criminal procedure law is encouraged by the diversity from state to state of the administrative environment in which the law is applied. Various elements contribute to that environment, including the demography of the population, the resources available to the process, and the structure of the institutions responsible for the administration of the process (particularly police, prosecutor, and judiciary), and as to each there is considerable variation from state to state. That variation is reflected, in turn, in the criminal justice processes of the states, for that process must be designed to accommodate in its application the state’s particular administrative environment.

Arguably, an even more significant obstacle to gaining substantial uniformity in the law of criminal procedure is the character of the decision that must be made in fashioning a law of criminal procedure. There are few areas, if any, of legislative choice in which the role of symbolic politics is more pervasive than criminal justice reform, and that factor can readily lead lawmakers in different approaches in addressing the same basic issue (as well as produce frequent shifts in basic philosophy even in the same jurisdiction).

Still another important factor is the integrated nature of the overall criminal justice process. The process is composed of a series of interlocking parts, with each stage building upon what was done at earlier stages and those earlier stages shaped in part by anticipation of what will occur at later stages. The different components complement and compensate for each other in producing the character of the process as a whole. Thus, in considering whether to adopt a proposed reform that will change the governing standard at one stage of the process; a state lawmaker must consider the relationship of that standard to the operation of other aspects of the process. As a result, lawmakers in two different states, though sharing the same basic philosophy, may reach different conclusions on a proposed reform in light of difference in other of their state’s process.

The Laws Regulating the Process

(a) Varied Sources. In each jurisdiction, the law governing the criminal justice process will come from several different sources. For cases in the federal system, those sources are (1) the United States Constitution; (2) federal statutes; (3) the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure; (4) local district court rules; (5) rulings of federal courts based on their common law decisional authority or their supervisory authority over the administration of criminal justice in the federal courts (as contrasted to rulings interpreting the constitution, statutes, or court rules) and (6) the internal regulations of the Department of Justice and other agencies involved in the administration of the federal criminal justice process. At the state level, an even larger group of sources come into play. The legal standards applicable to the process in a state typically will come from nine different sources: (1) the United States Constitution; (2) federal statutes; (3) the state’s constitution; (4) the state’s statutes; (5) the state’s general court rules; (6) local court rules; (7) rulings of the state’s courts based on their common law authority or their supervisory authority; (8) the internal administrative standards of those state and local agencies involved in the administration of the process; and (9) local ordinances…

Sources of Criminal Procedure Rules in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has formally adopted a federal system since 1995. From the experiences of other federations, we can observe that the sources of criminal procedure rules in a federation have to be examined taking in to consideration the federal arrangement in place. In a federation, it is the supreme federal constitution that distributes law making, execution, judicial, and financial powers to different levels of government. In a federal system, the primary reference to determine the sources of criminal procedure rules is the federal constitution. As can be observed from the extracts pertaining to other countries, criminal procedure rules are not limited to the constitution. The other sources have to be also examined.

As regards Ethiopia, the FDRE Constitution, regional constitutions, and other relevant laws have to be analysed so as to have a comprehensive view of the sources of criminal procedure rules in the country. Currently, there are twelve distinct administrative systems. These are the federal government, nine regional states, Addis Ababa, and Dire Dawa. Accordingly, the sources of criminal procedure rules for each jurisdiction have to be carefully determined taking in to account the federal Constitution, regional constitutions, charters of the two federal territories, policies and laws issued at federal, regional, or the two cities level, etc. For instance, rules regulating the criminal jurisdiction of social courts may not be the same in the laws of all the twelve jurisdictions.

To sum up, identifying the sources of criminal procedure rules is not an easy task. The matter is more complicated in a federal set up where there are different jurisdictions having the mandate over the running of the criminal justice system. Ethiopia follows a federal system. The sources of criminal procedure rules found at the federal, regional, and the two cities level may not be the same.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 May 2012 13:05