Book Review: Obstacles to Fairness in Criminal Proceedings

AuthorSamantha Fairclough
Publication Date01 July 2019
DOI10.1177/1365712718807355
Date01 July 2019
SubjectBook Review
EPJ807355 339..341 The International Journal of
Evidence & Proof
Book Review
2019, Vol. 23(3) 339–341
ª The Author(s) 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/1365712718807355
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John Jackson and Sarah Summers (eds), Obstacles to Fairness in Criminal Proceedings (Hart 2018)
It is widely accepted, and indeed expected, that criminal proceedings should accord with certain stan-
dards. This is known commonly as the right to a fair trial, something which is routinely enshrined in
human rights instruments. But what exactly does it mean to say that a trial is fair? Has the term become
so vague as to be empty? What barriers may exist to achieving fairness in criminal proceedings? This
collection of essays, edited by Jackson and Summers, explores these issues by examining the concept of
fairness, and obstacles to its achievement, in criminal proceedings.
The book brings together a collection of contributions from scholars with backgrounds in law,
philosophy and sociology. In their own way, each author challenges the assumptions underpinning
common understandings of fairness in criminal proceedings, both domestically and internationally.
Overall, the book explores whether the focus on individual rights—and specifically defence rights—
is the best means of ensuring that proceedings are fair. While the emphasis is mainly on jurisdictions
oriented in adversarialism (particularly England and Wales and the United States), there are interesting
points of comparison with other modes of trial littered throughout.
The chapters are expertly tied together by Jackson and Summers as adopting:
a pluralist methodology in seeking to identify obstacles to fairness, examining both the normative limitations
of viewing fairness in terms of individual rights and the institutional limitations that inhibit effective regu-
lation of the actions of the police and prosecutors before trial in criminal justice systems (p 10).
Trechsel (Chapter 2) and Sklanky (Chapter...

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