Criminal Law, Evidence, Legal Technology

German Courts and Police Don’t Record Interrogations or Court Testimony

The Guardian recently ran an outstanding investigative piece on one of Germany's most notorious post-war crimes, the abduction and killing of the "girl in the box", Ursula Herrmann. Herrmann was abducted on 15 September 1981 while riding her bike in a prosperous lakeside town near Munich. Her kidnappers contact the parents asking for ransom, but… Continue reading German Courts and Police Don’t Record Interrogations or Court Testimony

Basic Rights, Bundestag, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Federal Constitutional Court

A “Justice Offensive” to Legalize Marijuana in Germany

The German Hemp Federation (GHF), a German marijuana-legalization lobby, has started what it calls a "justice offensive" (g) to convince the German Federal Constitutional Court (FCC) to declare laws against marijuana unconstitutional. The current state of play in Germany is that it is illegal nationwide, under § 29 (g) of the Narcotics Law, to possess… Continue reading A “Justice Offensive” to Legalize Marijuana in Germany

Criminal Law, Soering

What the DNA Does and Doesn’t Show in the Soering Case

As you might have guessed, I'm working on a project about the Jens Soering case, which explains all the recent posts. I know this might be a bit dull for those of you who haven't followed the case, but I'd recommend getting into it -- it's quite interesting. This post will be long and fairly… Continue reading What the DNA Does and Doesn’t Show in the Soering Case

Criminal Law, Evidence, Murder, Soering

DNA Identification, Circumstantial Evidence, and Jens Soering

[source] One of the first things they teach you in law school is that circumstantial evidence is just as powerful as direct evidence. In fact, they say, the distinction is irrelevant and misleading. "But that's only circumstantial evidence!" is the type of thing that non-lawyers think is a winning argument, but which isn't. Why is… Continue reading DNA Identification, Circumstantial Evidence, and Jens Soering

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?