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Adversarial vs. Inquisitorial Court Systems

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  • Pages: 2
  • Word count: 380
  • Category: Court

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There are many differences as well as similarities between the adversarial and inquisitorial court systems. In an adversarial court, the judge tries to remain impartial. In an inquisitorial court the judge plays the role as a fact finder to ascertain the truth.

The adversarial system is a contest between two opposing sides. In the adversarial system, the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The adversaries are the Prosecutor and the Defense. Each presents their best arguments and facts as about their theories of the case, and they show weaknesses in the other side’s case. The Judge is supposed to remain neutral, weigh the arguments and produce a judgment. Another word for this is “blind justice” which means not blind to the facts but blind to the wealth, color, religion etc. of the accused. In most circumstances, the Judge or Jury is bound to find the accused innocent unless he is convinced “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” of the guilt of the accused.

In the inquisitorial system, the accused is presumed guilty unless he can prove otherwise and the Judge questions the accused to try to get him to admit his guilt. In the inquisitorial system, the Judge takes the lead role in uncovering the truth. The Prosecutor and Defense take limited role in offering legal argument and interpretations.

There is criticism of both systems. In the adversarial system, the goal of trial is “victory, no truth or justice” Justice is done when one side can convince the Judge or jury that his perspective on the case is the correct one. The party with the greater financial resources has the most advantage. Criticism of the Inquisitorial system argues that it places to much unchecked power in the hands of judges who investigate and determine the case, however it is more likely that an accurate verdict is most likely to arise from a careful and exhaustive investigation.

The goal of both the adversarial system and the inquisitorial system is to find the truth. The adversarial system seeks the truth by putting the
parties against each other in the hope that competition will reveal it, where as the inquisitorial system seeks the truth by questioning witnesses and people who are most familiar with the events of the case.

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