Should an accused party have the right to an inquisitorial trial on request?


White_Unifier
#1
I have read a number of immigration hearing transcripts in the past and given how both immigration and criminal courts use the adversarial system, I'll assume that some of my observations are transferable.

At immigration hearings, it sometimes happens that the counsel for the foreign national wants the Minister's counsel to present more evidence in their possession and the Minister's counsel will refuse. In one case, when the foreign national's counsel asked for the names of the anonymous officers who'd arrested her and written the police reports, the Minister's counsel refused. Essentially, the Minister's counsel served as the gatekeeper to the available evidence and so could choose to present only that evidence that could make the foreign national look guilty while withholding any expulpatory evidence.

Given how criminal trials operate under the adversarial system too, I can reasonably conclude that the Crown prosecutor can likewise serve as the gatekeeper to the available evidence in some cases and so present only that evidence that makes the accused look guilty while refusing to present the rest. Remember that the prosecutor is not a neutral party! The good news is that unlike immigration trials that require proof on a balance of probabilities, criminal ones require proof beyond reasonable doubt; but stll, wrongful convictions can occur even then.

I can say from my observation that if I were ever accused of a crime I had not committed, I'd appreciate the right to an inquisitorial trial on request. I grant that it might give the judge more intrusive powers into my private life; but if I have nothing to hide, I'd appreciate the power it would give him to go over the prosecutor's head to collect evidence himself if need be. I wouln't want the prosecutor serving as the gatekeeper to the available evidence.

So, should an accused have the right to an inquisitorial trial on request? I can maybe see some safeguards. For example, the accused who requests an inquisitorial trial might need to sign a document confirming that he fully understands how this could give the judge more powers than he has at an adversarial trial; how while it might diminish the control the prosecutor has over his case, it could also diminish the control that the defense will have over its; and while it could give the judge more power to go over the prosecutor's head to collect evidence that the prosecutor refuses to present, it would also give him more power to go over the defence attorney's head to collect evidence the defence might refuse to present.

As long as the accused signs off on that understanding and believes he has nothing to hide; and especially if he has any reason to believe that the prosecutor might refuse to present exculpatory evidence in his possession that the defence has no access to but that a judge might in an inquisitorial trial, why not grant him the right to an inquisitorial trial on request?
 
White_Unifier
#2
I'll just add here that while I've come across opposition to inquisitorial trials in the past precisely due to their more intrusive nature into an accused's private life, I'm not talking here about imposing an inquisitorial on him against his will but rather offering it as something he could request.

If for whatever reason there are embarrassing things he'd like the judge not to know, he could still opt for an adversarial trial, but on the understsnding that while this reduces the judge's powers and increases those of the defence, it increases the power of the prosecutor too, which could be important when the prosecutor may have exculpatory evidence in his possession that the defence cannot access on its own.

They both have their pros and cons but as a rule of thumb, as long as the accused has nothing embarrassing to hide, he may prefer an inquisitorial trial to get to the bottom of the matter more quickly as long as he's comfortable with giving the judge more intrusive powers to do so.