Court of Cassation (Italy)
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The Court of Cassation also ensures the correct application of law in the inferior and appeal courts and resolves disputes as to which lower court (penal, civil, administrative, military) has jurisdiction to hear a given case.
The Italian Supreme Court of Cassation is the highest court within the hierarchy of the Italian jurisdiction. Appeal to the Court of Cassation generally come from the appellate court (second instance courts) but defendants or prosecutors may also appeal directly from trial courts (first instance courts). The Supreme Court can reject or confirm a sentence from a lower court, in case of rejection it can send back the proceedings to the lower court in order for the trial and sentencing to be amended or it can annul the previous sentence altoghether. A sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court of Cassation is final and definitive and cannot be further appealed : while the Supreme Court cannot overrule the trial court's interpretation of the evidence it can correct a lower court's interpretation or application of the law connected to a specific case.
As the Italian judicial system is based on Civil law within the framework of late Roman law, and not Common Law its core principles are entirely codified into a normative system which serves as the primary source of law, this means judicial decisions of the supreme court, as well as those of lower courts, are binding within the frame of reference of each individual case submitted but do not constitute the base for judicial precedent for other future cases. It is worth noting that while in civil law jurisdictions the doctrine of stare decisis (precedent) does not apply, however, in practice the decisions of the supreme court usually provide a very robust reference point of jurisprudence constante. The two essential aims of the Court of Cassation are to ensure that lower courts correctly follow legal procedure and to harmonize the interpretation of laws throughout the judicial system.
Members and organization
The Supreme Court of Cassation is organized into two divisions : a criminal section and a civil section. Within the premises of the Supreme Court of Cassation the offices of the Attorney General ( General procurator ) of the Republic operate representing the state in both civil and criminal cases. The court has a general president, The First President of the Court of Cassation, a deputy, and each section has its own president. Cases brought to the supreme court are normally heard by a panel of five judges. In more complex cases, especially those concerning compounded matters of statutory interpretation an extended panel of nine judges ( "united sections" of the supreme court) hear the case. In addition, in every case submitted to the supreme court, the office of public prosecutor must state his interpretation of the applicable law to assist and facilitate the court, in a consultive capacity, in reaching its final decision.
The Court of Cassation was reorganized by royal decree 12 on 30 January 1941, supplanting the previous court provided by the former Italian Civil Code in 1865. The need for this kind of court in Europe became apparent with the Ancien Régime's difficulties in maintaining both uniformity of interpretation and supremacy of the central laws against local privileges and rights. This kind of court first appeared during the French Revolution. The original French courts were initially much more like a legislative body than a judicial one. During his conquests, Napoleon greatly influenced Italian legal theory, and the Court of Cassation was formed using many imported French ideas.
- Court of cassation (for other courts of cassation around the world)
- G. Di Federico, La Corte di cassazione: la giustizia come organizzazione, Laterza Editore, 1969.
- P. Calamandrei, Istituzioni di diritto processuale civile, Padova, 1943
- G. Leone, Lineamenti di diritto processuale penale italiano, Giuffre Editore, 1956
- S. Satta, Diritto processuale civile, CEDAM, Padova, 1959
- V. Lacoppola, La competenza civile nella giurisprudenza della cassazione, Milano, 1988.