Blog

BGH, Criminal Law, Mental State, Police and Prosecutors

How Many Innocent People Are in German Prisons?

The German press is obsessed with the American justice system. The coverage varies from wire-service blurbs about police shootings to in-depth researched pieces. Quality varies enormously, but is often low: German reporters tend to approach the topic with prejudices firmly in place, and screen their research to ensure those prejudices are confirmed. I've documented one… Continue reading How Many Innocent People Are in German Prisons?

Bundestag, Federal Constitutional Court, Public Law

Can the Bundestag pass laws with 85% of its Members Absent? The Answer May Shock You.

A recent dispute involving the German federal parliament, the Bundestag, has highlighted a quirk of German parliamentary practice: The Bundestag sometimes passes laws when the vast majority of its 709 current members aren't there. This quirk became a political theme on June 28, 2019, when the Bundestag held a marathon session before its summer break.… Continue reading Can the Bundestag pass laws with 85% of its Members Absent? The Answer May Shock You.

Constitutional Law, Dublin III, ECJ, Immigration and Asylum, Self-Promotion

The FAZ Publishes My Review of ‘Die Zauberlehrlinge’

I wrote a German version of my review of 'Die Zauberlehrlinge' for the FAZ, available here. Most of the arguments were already previewed in English in this blog post, but the piece benefited a great deal from some careful revisions and editing. I hope you enjoy it. There's been plenty of interesting discussion of the… Continue reading The FAZ Publishes My Review of ‘Die Zauberlehrlinge’

Comparative Law, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Murder, Police and Prosecutors

Jens Soering’s Guilt and a System Failure of German Journalism

UPDATE: 15 July. Full disclosure: this post has gotten some attention since I posted it. I've made a number of revisions to it after correspondence with people very familiar with the case, who graciously corrected some errors. I'm also reading 'Beyond Reason', the 1990 book about the case, and may update the post a bit… Continue reading Jens Soering’s Guilt and a System Failure of German Journalism

European Court of Justice, Federal Administrative Court, Human Dignity

Human Dignity and Laser Tag

The guiding principle of the post-war German legal order is human dignity, which stands symbolically at the very beginning of the modern German constitution, the Basic Law: (1) Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority. But what exactly¬†is human dignity? In common-law countries, it's… Continue reading Human Dignity and Laser Tag