Nuremberg Lives on: How Justice Jackson's International Experience Continues to Shape Domestic Criminal Procedure
73 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2014 Last revised: 3 Mar 2016
Date Written: June 29, 2014
The end of Germany’s participation in World War II came with its formal surrender on May 8, 1945. After extensive debate over what would become of top Nazi leaders, twenty-two Nazi defendants were tried and nineteen were ultimately convicted after 216 days of trials held in Nuremberg spread across eleven months between November 1945 and 1946. Associate Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson took a leave of absence from the Court to lead the trial’s prosecutorial effort.
Decades of scholarship have considered and evaluated the Nuremberg trials alongside Jackson’s role in them. But no article has evaluated how Justice Jackson’s experience as Nuremberg Chief Prosecutor shaped his view of domestic criminal procedure issues when he returned to the Court after the Nazi trials.
This Article makes two arguments: first, that Justice Jackson’s experience as Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg transformed his thinking about domestic criminal procedure. Second, the Article asserts that Jackson’s transformative Nuremberg experience remarkably continues to impact — even today — the law on search and seizure, confessions, and right to counsel. More than a handful of his post-Nuremberg opinions remain consistently cited by lower courts and the Supreme Court alike. Accordingly, this Article concludes, Nuremberg did more than affect international criminal law. Given that so many of Jackson’s post-Nuremberg opinions continue to impact everyday citizens, the famous war criminals trial that happened more than fifty years ago remains modernly — and domestically — relevant.
Keywords: World War II, criminal procedure, Supreme Court, criminal law, Robert H. Jackson, Roosevelt, Hitler, Nazis, Nuremberg, international law
JEL Classification: K10, K14, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation