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Politics and government of
The Corte d'Assise is an Italian court composed of two professional judges, Giudici Togati, and six lay judges, Giudici Popolari, selected from the people. The court has jurisdiction to judge the most serious crimes, such as terrorism, murder. Penalties imposed by the court can include life sentences. The Corte d'Assise does not preside over cases involving attempted murder.
Courts of Assise consist of a judicial panel made up of a number of stipendiary judges (giudici togati). In the Court of Assizes and Court of Assizes of Appeal (Corte d'Assise e nella Corte d'Assise d'Appello) the judicial panel consists of both stipendiary and lay judges (giudici popolari). The Court of Assizes (Corte d'Assise) has jurisdiction to try crimes carrying a maximum penalty of 24 years in prison or life imprisonment, and other serious crimes. The Prosecution is conducted by the Pubblico Ministero presso la Corte d'Assise (the Public Prosecutor at the Court of Assizes).
Decisions are made by the giudici togati and giudici popolari together at a special meeting behind closed doors, named Camera di Consiglio, and the Corte d'Assise is required to publish written explanations of its decisions.
The Corte d'Assise is composed of two Judges and six citizens; the presiding Judge must be a member of a Court of Appeals, beside him sits a Judge a latere. Lay judges for the Corte d'Assie and Corte d'Assise d'Appello have to be older than thirty and younger than sixty-five. They must have completed their education to the level of Scuola Media (junior high school).
Corte d'Assise d'Appello
The presiding Judge must be a member of the Court of Cassation, the Judge a latere must be a member of a Court of Appeals. The lay Judges must have completed their education to the level of Scuola Superiore (senior high school)
The following people cannot be appointed to the office of lay judge:
- Judges or other members of the Judiciary;
- members of the Armed Forces or of the police;
- ministers of any religion and clergymen.
Office of lay Judge and appointment thereto
In every comune, a board composed by the Mayor and two member of the Consiglio Comunale form two registers, containing all the citizens meeting the aforementioned criteria. If they do not see to that, the President of the local Tribunale acts in their stead.
These registers are then transmitted to the President of the Tribunale. A board is then convened, formed by the President and all the mayors of the comuni of the district, to form a register of all the eligible citizens of the district. The register is then published and all citizen may raise an objection within 15 days.
The registers are revised every two years.
In a public audience, the President of the Tribunale draws the names of the lay judges and of their substitutes.
After being appointed, the lay Judges take the following oath:
Con la ferma volontà di compiere da persona d'onore tutto il mio dovere, cosciente della suprema importanza morale e civile dell'ufficio che la legge mi affida, giuro di ascoltare con diligenza e di esaminare con serenità prove e ragioni dell'accusa e della difesa, di formare il mio intimo convincimento giudicando con rettitudine ed imparzialità, e di tenere lontano dall'animo mio ogni sentimento di avversione e di favore, affinché la sentenza riesca quale la società deve attenderla: affermazione di verità e di giustizia. Giuro altresì di conservare il segreto.
by which they swear they will listen to with diligence and will serenely examine the evidence and the reasons of both the prosecution and the defense, and will honestly and impartially judge.
The lay Judges are paid for every day of actual exercise of their duty; and, in these instances, are considered public officials. They continue in office for three months, or until the trial in which they are serving ends. Lay Judges wear a sash in the national colours and are not technically jurors, as the term is understood in Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence. In Italian, Giudice (Judge) refers both to the eight of them together as a collective body and to each of them considered separately as a member of that body.
Since Lay Judges are not jurors, they cannot be excused, unless there are grounds that would justify an objection to a Judge. Also, they are not sequestered, because a trial often lasts too long to restrict travel: an Italian trial, including the preliminary investigations, preliminary hearing, trial and appeals, can last several years. To keep a citizen - who continues to work, while serving as a Popular Judge - sequestered for years would be unfeasible.
Corte d'Assise d'Appello
Both the defendant and the prosecutor can appeal a decision from the Corte d'Assise to the Corte d'Assise d'Appello. The Corte d'Assise d'Appello has the same composition of judges and lay judges as the Corte d'Assise, but the Giudici Togati are senior to the judges of the first court. The Corte d'Assise d'Appello must also publish written explanations of its decisions. This appeal includes a complete review of the evidence – in effect a retrial.
Both the prosecutor and the defendant can appeal to the top appeal court named Cassazione. The Cassazione only judge the correct application of the law in the lower courts, it does not review the evidence. If the Cassazione does not uphold the sentence given by the first court, usually they order a new trial in front of a different court, namely: Corte d'Assise d'Appello.
- Cour d'assises - the French version of Corte d'Assise