The Prisoners’ Counsel Act 1836: Doctrine, Advocacy and the Criminal Trial

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In recent years greater numbers of thinkers have considered the Prisoners' Counsel Act 1836 but have viewed the Act through the lens of Whig history, as a further manifestation of the modernisation of criminal justice in the inevitable march towards adversarialism. This article addresses how the Act has been understood within broader literature concerning the nineteenth century felony trial. In particular, greater attention is paid to how counsel reacted to the Act, considering the nature of the contemporary Bar, the apparent silence from the Bar in reaction to the Act, what evidence might be drawn upon to gauge how members of the Bar might have reacted to changes within the trial and some possible explanation for such reactions. Lastly, some conclusions are drawn as to what these reactions reveal about pervading perceptions of the Bar during the mid-nineteenth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-47
Number of pages20
JournalLaw, Crime and History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes


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