Balancing between effective realization of criminal liability and effective defence rights: the tasks and the roles of prosecutor and defence lawyer in finnish criminal procedure.
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Prior to the extensive reform of the Finnish criminal procedure in 1997, the roles of the prosecutor and the defence attorney were passive compared to the role of the judge. The main task of the prosecutor was to read the written indictment and to help the judge to find the truth. The judge could procure evidence ex officio, although it may have been detrimental to the suspect. The roles of the judge, the attorneys and the prosecutor changed dramatically when the reform concerning criminal matters was enacted. The prosecutor is now an active party to the case, ensuring the implementation of criminal liability and actively promoting the progress of the proceedings. It is the duty of the prosecutor to prove the charge by procuring sufficient evidence in support of the charge and by presenting it to the court. The court itself is neutral; it does not support or assist the prosecutor. The judge cannot hear a witness ex officio if the hearing is to be detrimental to the suspect.One may say that the main tasks of the judge in a criminal case are to (formally) safeguard a fair trial and to decide the case by reflecting the evidence that the prosecutor and the attorneys have procured and presented to the court. Communication, cooperation, interaction and a fair trial as a whole are the main features of Finnish criminal procedure.
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