The trial in history, volume II
Editor: R. A. Melikan

Lawyers had been producing reports of trials and appellate proceedings in order to understand the law and practices of the Westminster courts since the Middle Ages, and printed reports had appeared in the late fifteenth century. This book considers trials in the regular English criminal courts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also considers the contribution of criminal lawyers in developing the modern rules of evidence. The book explores the influence of scientific and pseudoscientific knowledge on Victorian insanity trials and trials for homosexual offences, respectively. The British Trials Collection contains the only readily accessible and near-verbatim accounts of civil trials from the 1760s, 1770s, and 1780s, decades crucial to understanding how the rules of evidence developed. It might be thought that Defence of the Realm Acts (DORA) or its regulations would have introduced trials in camera. The book presents a comparative critique of war crimes trials before the International Military Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo and the International Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. The first spy trial by court martial after the legal change in 1915 was that of Robert Rosenthal, who was German. The book also considers the principal features of the first war crimes trial of the twenty-first century in terms of personnel and procedures, the alleged crimes, and issues of legality and legitimacy. It also speculates on the narratives or non-narratives of the trial and how these may impact on the professed aims and objectives of the litigation.

Open Access (free)

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers trials in the regular English criminal courts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also considers the contribution of criminal lawyers in developing the modern rules of evidence. The book explores the influence of scientific and pseudoscientific knowledge on Victorian insanity trials and trials for homosexual offences, respectively. It also explores examples of litigation in more unusual English tribunals, Parliament and courts-martial. The book shows how patriotism, deference, and the self-replicating culture of secrecy could result in the trial, conviction, and execution of British citizens in conditions of almost complete anonymity. It examines international trials for war crimes, what are sometimes referred to as breaches of international humanitarian law, and human rights violations.

in Domestic and international trials, 1700–2000
How the House of Lords ‘tried’ Queen Caroline

In the summer of 1820, King George IV demanded that his government secure the punishment of his estranged wife, Queen Caroline, for her allegedly adulterous behaviour. Ministers acquiesced, and introduced a bill of pains and penalties to deprive the Queen of all royal titles and privileges, and to affect a divorce. After lengthy consideration by the House of Lords the bill was withdrawn, to the King's annoyance and the embarrassment of his government. This chapter examines the bill procedure as a parliamentary phenomenon. It conferred on Parliament considerable authority, but its unusual process also subjected the legislature to considerable strain. Caroline's 'case' was one that the government had tried hard to avoid. Legally obscure, politically dangerous, and generating considerable public disquiet, it had been forced upon ministers by the refusal of both the King and Queen to compromise.

in Domestic and international trials, 1700–2000