The 's Scales Of Justice : Defense Counsel And The English Criminal Trial Essay

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Review of J.M. Beattie’s “Scales of Justice: Defense Counsel and the English Criminal Trial in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries” Beattie, J.M. “Scales of Justice: Defense Counsel and the English Criminal Trial in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. ” Law and History Review 9, no.2 (1991): 221-267. Article Summary J.M Beattie, in “Scales of Justice: Defense Counsel and the English Criminal Trial in the Eighteenth and Nineteen Centuries,” investigates the transformations in English criminal law the 1730s and 1836. In his work, Beattie argues that the gradual introduction of defence counsel in criminal trials beginning in the 1730s transformed English criminal legal proceedings by highlighting the defendant’s right to advocacy. Furthermore, Beattie contends that the increase in defence counsel in this same period contributed to, as well as reflected the larger social shift towards recognising inherent defendant legal rights. The one hundred year period of study ends in 1836 with the passing of the Prisoner’s Counsel Act - guaranteeing the right of felony defendants to be represented by counsel in English court rooms. The article begins by investigating the rise in defence counsel in English criminal trials. Prior to the 18th century, English criminal trials were short, and centred on the defendant’s “natural response to evidence as they heard it for the first time” (223). In an era of discretionary justice being administered by judges and juries, defence

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