At last the Evidence in Criminal Cases Bill has become law. It is not necessary to say more of the statute itself here than that it makes every person charged with an offence, and the wife or husband of such person as the case may be, a competent witness for the defence at every stage of the proceedings, under the conditions specified in the Act. The arguments for and against this measure, which we believe to be a pre-eminently salutary one, have been agitated in this country for many years, and are familiar to every educated section of the community. The combatants on both sides will now be content to wait to see their predictions verified, or the reverse, by the event. The great danger against which the judiciary will have to guard in superintending the administration of the new statute will, in our opinion, be the possible abuse by counsel, from excess of zeal, of the right of cross-examining prisoners electing to give evidence on their own behalf. But from the admirable manner in which the judges have confirmed the right of “summing up” enjoyed by counsel for the prosecution under Denman's Act, within safe working limits, we have no fear of the result of the fresh test to which the Legislature is now submitting their firmness and capacity.
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