Adversarial Inquisitions: Rethinking the Search for the Truth

32 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2011 Last revised: 4 Mar 2012

See all articles by Keith A. Findley

Keith A. Findley

University of Wisconsin Law School

Date Written: August 3, 2011


The growing number of exonerations of wrongly convicted individuals has fostered new interest in alternative mechanisms for factfinding in criminal cases, including some recent suggestions for special "innocence procedures." Such procedures would be optional, and available only in cases in which the defendant claims factual innocence. Discussion about alternative methods of investigating and adjudicating facts in criminal cases inevitably renews longstanding debates about the relative merits of inquisitorial versus adversarial system. This article analyzes and critiques some of the recent suggestions for "innocence procedures," concluding that most do both too much and too little to enhance adjudicative reliability. The article then draws on the strengths of both the adversary and inquisitorial systems to propose an alternative model that might promise enhanced reliability, and thus both better justice and public safety.

Keywords: adversarial, inquisitorial, inquisition, investigation, innocence, factfinding, prosecutors, criminal

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Findley, Keith A., Adversarial Inquisitions: Rethinking the Search for the Truth (August 3, 2011). New York Law School Law Review, Vol. 56, No. 911, 2011-12, Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1165, Available at SSRN: or

Keith A. Findley (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

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