Articles by Frederick Engels in The Rheinische Zeitung
Written: on June 25, 1842;
First published: in the Rheinische Zeitung No. 181, June 30, 1842;
Marked with the sign ‘X’;
Source: MECW, Volume 2;
Transcribed: in 2000 for marxists.org by Andy Blunden.
Berlin, June 25. On July 1 the local Criminalistische Zeitung will “cease to appear for the time being”. Hence, its tirades against the jury system do not seem to have found the desired approval of the public. It was a juste-milieu paper in the juristic sphere. It favoured public and oral proceedings, but for God’s sake no juries. The half-heartedness of such a tendency is fortunately being more and more recognised, and supporters of the jury system multiply daily. The Criminastische Zeitung established the principle that no branch of executive power must be given directly into the hands of the people, hence not judicial office either. That would be all very fine if judicial power were not something quite different from executive power. In all states where the separation of the powers has been really instituted, judicial and executive powers are quite without any connection. This is the case in France, England and America; the mixing of the two leads to the most unholy confusion, and its most extreme consequence would be to unite the chief of police, investigating officer and judge in one person. But it has long been proved, not only in principle but by history, that judicial power is the direct property of the nation, which exercises it through its jurors. I remain silent on the advantages and guarantees offered by the jury system; it would be superfluous to waste words on that. But there are the inveterate jurists, the sticklers for the letter, whose slogan is: fiat justitia, pereat mundus! [May justice take its course even if the world perishes] The free jury system naturally does not suit them for not only would they be pushed out of their position as judges, ut the sacred letter of the law, dead, abstract law, would be jeopardised. And that must not be lost. It is their palladium, and hence the gentlemen cry blue murder when for once a jury in France or England acquits a poor proletarian who, driven to desperation by hunger, has stolen a pennyworth of bread, although the case was proved by witnesses and confession. Then they shout triumphantly: You see, that comes of the jury system, the safety of property, of life itself is undermined, lawlessness is sanctioned, crime and revolution are openly proclaimed! — We hope that for the time being the Criminalistische Zeitung will not start again to appear “for the time being”.