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Book description

Judges were never bound by law to convict a defendant unless they considered him guilty. Yet, they could be prohibited by law from convicting a person they consider guilty due to the absence of legally prescribed or the presence of legally prohibited evidence. Evaluation of Evidence addresses the question: should the law restrict the freedom of judges in assessing the probative value of evidence in the criminal process? Tracing the treatment of evidence from pre-modern to modern times, Mirjan Damaška argues that there has always been some understanding about rules regarding the use and treatment of evidence, and these rules should not be looked askance as a departure from ideal arrangements. In a time when science and technology have the ability to contribute to factual inquiry, there needs to be acceptance of rules that expand or corroborate evidence produced by our native sensory apparatus.


‘In Evaluation of Evidence, Mirjan Damaška takes on the essential but ever difficult problem of finding the right amount of space that fact-finders should be allowed in determining guilt and innocence. He juxtaposes the relatively strict approach of Roman-canon law, that limited evidence by ‘affixing the value of evidence in advance' with the broader freedom permitted by modern law. He thus expands our contemporary thinking and thoughtfully explores the likely challenges of the future.'

Oscar G. Chase - Russell D. Niles Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

‘Mirjan Damaška is the most learned and perceptive comparative law scholar of the last fifty years. In this important book, he questions standard views about how the rules of evidence were understood in Roman-canon law and inquisitorial proceedings, articulates an alternative historical account about it, and provides key insights about how we should think about the evaluation of evidence in our time. This book is indispensable for anyone interested in the past, present and future of the law of evidence and legal adjudication.'

Máximo Langer - University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

‘The sixteenth century was a great century in the history of European criminal procedure, and Prospero Farinacci was procedure's most famous and important practitioner. Damaška has skillfully used these cases to illustrate the procedural rules that Farinacci and other jurists from Baldus to Carpzov developed and form the foundation of modern criminal law. This book will be a valuable supplemental text for criminal procedure law courses.'

Ken Pennington - The Catholic University of America

‘The book is an outstanding historical research about some of the most important topics concerning the evaluation of evidence in criminal law. Damaška's view is original, based upon a wide and deep analysis of the historical sources. Evaluation of Evidence is an important contribution to the history of judicial systems, in particular the evolution of evidentiary rules and the function of courts, with main reference to the inquisitorial model that dominated the Western world for several centuries.'

Michele Taruffo - University of Pavia, Italy

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