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Truth, Error, and Criminal Law
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  • Page extent: 256 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.55 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 345/.05
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: KD8464 .L38 2006
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Judicial error--Great Britain
    • Criminal justice, Administration of--Great Britain
    • Judicial error--United States
    • Criminal justice, Administration of--United States
    • Criminal law--Philosophy

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521861663 | ISBN-10: 0521861667)

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$118.00 (P)

This book treats problems in the epistemology of the law. Beginning with the premise that the principal function of a criminal trial is to find out the truth about a crime, Larry Laudan examines the rules of evidence and procedure that would be appropriate if the discovery of the truth were, as higher courts routinely claim, the overriding aim of the criminal justice system. Laudan mounts a systematic critique of existing rules and procedures that are obstacles to that quest. He also examines issues of error distribution by offering the first integrated analysis of the various mechanisms—the standard of proof, the benefit of the doubt, the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof—for implementing society’s view about the relative importance of the errors that can occur in a trial.


1. Thinking about error in the law; 2. The unraveling of reasonable doubt; 3. Fixing the standard of proof; 4. Innocence, the burden of proof, and the puzzle of affirmative defenses; 5. Evaluating evidence and procedures; 6. Silent defendants, silent witnesses, and lobotomized jurors; 7. Confessions, poison fruit, and other exclusions; 8. Double jeopardy and false acquittals: letting felons and judges off the hook?; 9. Dubious motives for flawed rules: the clash between values.

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