SECTION I - Introduction

Author:K. Neumann
  1. Criminal proceedings in the Middle Ages were initiated and instituted by the victim of a crime or by his family (Sippe). The state took no part in these privately instituted accusatory proceedings (Anklageprozess). But, with the gradual growth of awareness of the grave effect of crimes on the community as a whole, it came to be recognised that these private prosecutions were insufficient, and as early as 1532 the so-called Constitutio Carolina Criminalis (peinliche Gerichtsordung) of the Emperor Charles V introduced inquisitorial proceedings (Inquisitionsprozess). From then on investigations were initiated and conducted ex officio by a judge trained in the law. The suspected person was merely the object of the proceedings. The whole trial was conducted in writing and secretly, and sentence was passed by the judge. Later French liberal ideas began to exercise a strong influence on German criminal procedure. They ran on the following lines: The accused must be protected; the judge is bound by the law; administration of justice must be independent; laymen must take part in the proceedings. In the course of time the demand for reform became so insistent that in 1848 these principles were incorporated into the 'fundamental rights of the German people '. From the middle of the 18th century onwards particular stress had been laid on the introduction of lay participants. Prussia was actually the first state to effect this by providing in 1852 for an assize court (Schwurgericht) in which sworn lay assessors were judges of fact. Hanover and Saxony (in 1850 and 1862 respectively) met the demand by setting up Schoffengerichte, i.e. courts in which professional judges and lay assessors occupied the bench together and with equal rights. After the foundation of the German Reich, all the above-listed liberal ideas were incorporated into the German Judicature Act (Gerichtsverfassungsgestez GVG) of 21 January, 1877, and the German Code of Criminal Procedure (Strafprozessordnung.

    StPO) of 1 February, '1879. But it was not very long before reforms were again needed, particularly in connection with the 'assize' courts (Schwurgerichte) and with appellate jurisdiction. The critical financial situation of the Reich after the first World War made the necessity still more urgent.

    Based on a large number of preparatory drafts, the ordinance regulating the Judicature and the Administration of Criminal Law was promulgated on 4 January, 1924. This wrought very...

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