Sun, Jun. 05, 2005

Introducing Documents

.   In criminal matters, courts may consider documents properly introduced into a trial even if they have not been read into the record but the Supreme Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe established some limits in its ruling of January 25, 2005.

In the matters 2 BvR 656/99, 2 BvR 657/99 and 2 BvR 683/99, it ruled that an appellate court may require detailed information from a party about the use of documentary evidence that the party claims was not properly introduced at trial, under §344 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, StPO. An appellate court may not require, however, factual information that goes beyond what is relevant for an appeal when such information has no immediate nexus with the introduction of that evidence.

In these three matters, the federal appellate court speculated that the appellant intended to mislead it by not furnishing information on an evidentiary ruling from which the court believed it could infer that the trial court had properly admitted the documentary evidence at issue.

The constitutional judges outlawed this inference as straining evidentiary rules embedded in §261 StPO and the constitutional due process precepts of articles 2(1) and 103 of the German federal constitution, Grundgesetz. A press release of May 25, 2005 by the court summarizes the above ruling at the Javascript link called Pressemitteilungen.

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