Since its inception, the French jury system has generated controversy and passionate argument. The jury originated at the time of the French Revolution as a potent symbol of democratic self-governance. Alternately praised and attacked by successive governments over two centuries, the jury became entrenched in the French justice system and in the French mind. Yet, in recent years, the French jury's future has become the subject of intense political debate. This article provides an overview of historical changes to the French jury system, describing how it was transformed from an independent body of lay citizens into a mixed decisionmaking body of professional and lay judges. The article then turns to a discussion of recent developments, including the introduction of a unique jury court of appeals (the Cour d'assises d'appel); the reclassification of offenses so that they are no longer eligible to be tried by jury; and government proposals for change in the use of French lay citizens as legal decision makers. The article also considers the implications of Taxquet v. Belgium for the French jury system.
Valerie P. Hans & Claire M. Germain,
The French Jury at a Crossroads,
Chi.-Kent L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cklawreview/vol86/iss2/10