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Volume18
Year2009
TitleCommentary: Was the Bill of Rights Irrelevant to Nineteenth-Century State Criminal Procedure?
Author(s)Carolyn B. Ramsey
First Page501
AbstractWhat the conference papers do not establish is that most nineteenth-century experts on criminal procedure believed the states would be forced to abandon their own approaches to investigating and prosecuting suspects in favor of the national model. Nor do they establish that the Fourteenth Amendment altered the actual practices of police officers, lawyers, or judges in ordinary criminal cases for decades after its adoption. Rather, as Donald Dripps argues, at the time of ratification some states were engaged in an independent process of reforming criminal procedure and at least two of their projects conflicted with Bill of Rights provisions. In the final analysis, however, this Commentary contends that neither the rationalism of Jeremy Bentham nor the Bill of Rights guarantees, as they were understood in the nineteenth century, adequately facilitated truth-finding or protected criminal suspects from abuse.