Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Evidence - fact finding

The Leiden faculty has a lively tradition in the field of criminal truth finding and evidence.

Jan de Keijser

For decades, work has been done on criminal law regarding evidence and evidence (Melai, Nijboer and Borst) and there is ample scope for criminalism, forensic psychiatry and forensic criminology. In particular, the way in which the investigation into the facts and their determination in the criminal proceedings is structured is a subject of discussion both within and outside criminal law.

The purpose of this research project is to answer fundamental questions regarding the nature and extent of the finding of criminal truth and the validity of the related research methods. This question includes a multitude of technical, social-scientific, philosophical and legal issues. The process of truth finding culminates in the decision as to whether it can be proven that a suspect has committed the charge. There are numerous legal, psychological and sociological factors that influence this evidence decision.

In this context, the following specific sub-questions are ahead.

  • What exactly is finding of truth and what is the formal obligation to search for the truth?
  • In this context, are the tasks and powers effective and sufficiently justified with regard to the constitutional aspects of violations of freedom rights of citizens and their privacy?
  • How is the fact-finding task perceived and shaped by the actors in the criminal trial, and how does that relate to views on finding the truth in (legal) politics and society?
  • Which chain factors influence the process of fact-finding and its perception? Which psychological factors influence the process of finding the truth and its perception?

But regardless of the specific question of evidence, fact finding is also done within criminal law frameworks. Forensic psychologists and psychiatrists, for example, are concerned with whether there is a morbid disorder in the case of a suspect and, if so, whether there is a causal link between that disorder and the charged offense. Those questions can also be classified as fact-finding. Although these are questions that, like the outcomes of risk assessment instruments, are primarily intended for decisions about penalties, measures or treatments, they are certainly based on a certain truth: a situation in the past or a future state of affairs.

That is why the focus of this research project is on all chain partners involved in finding the truth, such as the legislator, the police, the public prosecutor, experts and the judge. The fundamental questions concerning the finding of criminal truth necessitate an interdisciplinary oriented approach that takes into account perspectives from epistemology, legal psychology, neuropsychiatry and rhetoric/linguistics. The strong link between the finding of criminal truth and the nature of the criminal procedure (inquisitoir - accusatoir, common law - civil law) requires comparisons of law and the inclusion of international developments in this area. The combination of various disciplines in our research program offers many opportunities for this.

Researchers from different disciplines participate in this subproject. The researchers within this project are also active in practice. They teach evidence for ZM, OM and the legal profession and participate in various courses aimed at legal experts. In addition, researchers are members of committees, advisory boards and boards, where their knowledge is used in a broader social context (NRGD, ACAS, CTC).

Current research projects

Crijns J.H. & Dubelaar M.J. Betreffend: Onderzoek naar de manieren waarop het zwijgrecht in het strafproces wordt omzeild en wat dit betekent voor de betekenis van het zwijgrecht (lopend)

Crijns J.H., Keijser, J.W. de, Schoutsen L.M., & Schuyt, P.M. Betreffend: Onderzoek naar de vraag hoe de rechter oordeelt over de schuldvaststelling en de straftoemeting in strafzaken die zijn ingeleid door middel van een strafbeschikking (lopend)

Es, R. van. The effects of Pro Justitia reports on judicial decision-making in the Netherlands (lopend)

https://webmail.campus.leidenuniv.nl/owa/14.3.439.0/themes/resources/clear1x1.gifHazebroek, B.C.M. van. Legal responses to juvenile delinquency persisting into emerging adulthood: Towards a typology of offenders based on biosocial risk factors (lopend).

Core publications

Altena, J.G.H. (2018). Of/Of: de alternatieve kwalificatie. Platform Modernisering Strafvorderig.

Berger, C.E.H. (2017). De waarheidsvinding naar een hoger niveau [Oratie].

Cleiren C.P.M. & Dubelaar M.J. (2014). De betekenis van het scenariodenken voor het bewijs op grondslag van de tenlastelegging en de rechterlijke onderzoeksplicht, Strafblad 12(6):        439-448.

Cleiren C.P.M. & Dubelaar M.J. (2018), Modernisering van het strafrechtelijk bewijsrecht,        Rechtsgeleerd Magazijn Themis 2018(5): 191-203.
Cleiren C.P.M. (2010), De rechterlijke overtuiging. Een sprong met hindernissen,         Rechtsgeleerd Magazijn Themis 171(5/6): 259-267.
Cleiren C.P.M. (2018), De ACAS als speler in een gelaagde procedure, Expertise en Recht        2018(6): 249-254.

Cleiren C.P.M. (2014), Waarheidsvinding, Strafblad 12(6): 409-410.

Crijns J.H., Dubelaar M.J. & Pitcher K.M. (2018), Collaboration with Justice in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and Canada. A Comparative Study on the Provision of Undertakings to Offenders Who Are Willing to Give Evidence in the Prosecution of Others. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing.

Crijns J.H., Meij P.P.J. van der & Voorde J.M. ten (red.) (2008), De waarde van waarheid.      Opstellen over waarheid en waarheidsvinding in het strafrechtMeijers-reeks nr. 145.    Den Haag: Boom Juridische uitgevers.

Crijns J.H., Meij P.P.J. van der & Voorde J.M. ten (2010), Forensisch onderzoek voor    'Dummies'. Hoe leren de deskundige en de strafrechter elkaar te verstaan?, Ars   Aequi 59(7): 528-537.

Keijser, J.W. de (2017). Als de waarheid eraan moet geloven: Alledaagse bedreigingen voor waarheidsvinding in het strafproces. Den Haag: Boom Juridisch.

Keijser, J.W. de, Lange, E.G.M. de & Van Wilsem, J.A. (2014). Wrongful convictions and the Blackstone ratio: An empirical analysis of public attitudes. Punishment & Society, 16, 32-49.

Keijser, J.W. de, Malsch, M., Luining, E.T., Weulen Kranenbarg M. & Lenssen D.J.H.M. (2016). Differential reporting of mixed DNA profiles and its impact on juristsĀ“ evaluation of evidence: An international analysis., Forensic science International: Genetics, 23, 71-82. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fsigen.2016.03.006).

Robertson, B., Vignaux, G. A., & Berger, C. E. (2016). Interpreting evidence: evaluating forensic science in the courtroom. John Wiley & Sons.

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