A Survey of Comparative Criminal Procedure through Foreign Films

Authors: Samuel William Bettwy


Tools of comparative legal analysis are applied to examine the adjudicative process through foreign films, beginning with police contact with a crime suspect and ending with a judge or jury’s acquittal or with execution of sentence. The tools of analysis include the inquisitorial-adversarial dichotomy, role-specific constructs, and the classical Civil Law-Common Law dichotomy. In addition, differences in crimnal procedure are examined through the Socialist, Islamic, and indigenous legal traditions. Role-specific constructs measure the degree to which a suspect is expected to cooperate, the degree of independence and neutrality of the prosecutor, and the degree of lay participation (jurors) in adjudication and sentencing. The article concludes that a survey of foreign films confirms that suspects and accused enjoy greater protection of their right to remain silent and to the presumption of innocence in Common Law, adversarial justice systems, but that there are aspects of criminal procedure that the United States could adopt to improve its protection of a defendant’s rights.


Over 600 footnotes with reference to about 130 films. Will provide a reference list upon request.

Keywords: Comparative Law - Constitutional Law - Criminal Procedure