Many men are good judges in their own case: restorative justice and the nemo Iudex principle in Anglo-American law

Raisons Politiques 59:91-107 (2015)
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The principle of nemo iudex in causa sua is central to John Locke’s social contract theory: the state is justified largely due to the human need for an impartial system of criminal justice. In contemporary Anglo-American legal practice, the value of impartiality in criminal justice is accepted uncritically. At the same time, advocates of restorative justice frequently make reference to a crime victim’s right to have his or her voice heard in the criminal justice process without regard for impartiality as potentially being morally valuable. In this article, I challenge the central place of impartiality in criminal justice on the grounds that it leads to a setup ill-suited to moral psychology. Though restorative justice advocates are not principled in their implicit rejection of impartiality and the nemo iudex principle, their preferred method of criminal justice conduces to crime victims’ being good judges in their own case.

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Jennifer Page
University of Zürich


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