This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the
subsequent chapters of this book. The book considers trials in the regular
English criminal courts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It also
considers the contribution of criminal lawyers in developing the modern
rules of evidence. The book explores the influence of scientific and
pseudoscientific knowledge on Victorian insanity trials and trials for
homosexual offences, respectively. It also explores examples of litigation
in more unusual English tribunals, Parliament and courts-martial. The book
shows how patriotism, deference, and the self-replicating culture of secrecy
could result in the trial, conviction, and execution of British citizens in
conditions of almost complete anonymity. It examines international trials
for war crimes, what are sometimes referred to as breaches of international
humanitarian law, and human rights violations.
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