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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Toronto, 2007.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 70-10, Section: A, page: .
Inquisitorial procedure was designed by medieval jurists to control crime and increase the efficiency of prosecution by radically expanding the power of the criminal judge. Theoretically, inquisition procedure allowed wide authority to judges to initiate charges and to use judicial torture to compel confession. Therefore the wide-spread adoption of this procedure in criminal courts has been understood as an indicator of a decline of defendants' rights in the court. This thesis uses records from the court of the podesta at Reggio Emilia to explore the relationship between criminal legal theory and practice at the end of the fourteenth century, with an emphasis on the rights of defendants.Records of criminal trials and the practice of criminal law show that in practice and as it was carried out by the court at Reggio Emilia, inquisition procedure maintained important safeguards for defendants. This procedure followed the spirit of scholastic disputation: arguments for guilt were formulated and scrutinized, and legal exceptions and defense arguments provided counterpoints to the assertions made by the prosecution. It was the task of the criminal judge not to prosecute the accused but to determine a solution to the opposing arguments in true scholastic fashion: sic, contra, et solutio. Archival evidence indicates that judges did not have a prosecutorial role in inquisition trials at Reggio. Very few cases were actually initiated ex officio; far more commonly, local officials or private parties initiated proceedings against a defendant. Defendants strategized, often successfully, to limit the damage of conviction or to avoid it altogether. In the criminal court at Reggio Emilia, inquisitio was a tool of dispute resolution as much as it was an instrument of crime control. It was conducted according to strict procedural guidelines and contained real and effective protections for the accused.