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An account of the 19th-century criminal justice system as a whole, from the crimes committed and the classification of offences to the different courts and their procedure. The author describes the stages of criminal prosecution - committal, indictment, trial, verdict and punishment - and the judges, lawyers and juries, highlighting the significant changes in the rules of evidence during the century.
He looks at reform of the old system and assesses how far it was brought about by lawyers themselves and how far by external forces. Finally, he considers the fairness of the system, both as seen by contemporaries and in modern times.