Adjudication Error, Finality, Asymmetry in the Criminal Law

Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence 26 (2013): 377-98

45 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2013 Last revised: 17 Oct 2013

Date Written: October 1, 2012


All forms of criminal charge adjudication produce errors of mistaken conviction or acquittal. Yet in most criminal justice systems, an endpoint of sorts is eventually reached and further attempts to correct errors are disallowed. The first issue discussed is whether such “finality” in charge adjudication should be presumptive or non-presumptive. My contention is that it should be presumptive. But should it be presumptive only for convictions or also for acquittals? As against strong forms of asymmetry, I urge weaker forms, according to which we should seek to correct both kinds of errors while exhibiting some degree of preference for correcting errors of wrongful conviction over those of wrongful acquittal. The issues that must be faced if we are to set up procedures allowing rebuttal of the presumption of finality are then surveyed. Doing so reveals the forms that weak asymmetry might take.

Keywords: adjudication error, finality, false convictions, mistaken acquittals

Suggested Citation

Lippke, Richard, Adjudication Error, Finality, Asymmetry in the Criminal Law (October 1, 2012). Canadian Journal of Law & Jurisprudence 26 (2013): 377-98, Available at SSRN:

Richard Lippke (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

Department of Criminal Justice
Bloomington, IN
United States
812-856-6049 (Phone)

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