Book Review: Criminal Procedure Handbook by J.J. Joubert

Apr 6, 2017 | 2017, Book Review, News

Reviewed by Louis Rood.

This comprehensive introduction to the fundamental principles and values underlying the rules that apply in criminal cases is an indispensable guide to this area of law. The authors set the context: “Crime is a reality of life, especially in South Africa; and each country needs rules, principles, mechanisms and state structures to prevent, detect, cope with and control criminal behaviour. Criminal procedural rules play a pivotal role in this regard.

Every aspect of the criminal process is dealt with in a clear and logical manner. This includes the rights to legal representation, search and seizure, bail, pretrail examinations, charge sheets, plea bargaining, sentencing, review and appeal.

Relevant sections of the Constitution of 1996 and the Child Justice Act of 2008 are reproduced at the beginning of each chapter. The text is mercifully free of footnotes but all the case references are separately listed, as are references to the Criminal Procedure Act, the Superior Courts Act, and the Child Justice Act. The Appendix contains selected extracts from the Schedules to the Criminal Procedure Act and sections of the Constitution. A subject index is the GPS to the contents. This volume design has been crafted to ensure that this is a true “handbook”, to serve as a rapid resource in a bustling courtroom, as well as an authoritative source for advice and guidance in the pressure cooker of a criminal law practice.

Not only students and legal practitioners will find this book invaluable. The layout, style and presentation make it readily accessible to a general as well as a specialist readership which requires a grasp and understanding of how crime is dealt with, from journalists and political commentators to sociologists and educators. Of particular interest will be the commentary on aspects such as correctional supervision, restorative justice, community-based sentences, mercy and pardon. This book is also published in Afrikaans as “Strafprosesreg Handboek.”

Former United States Chief Justice Warren is quoted by the authors as citing with approval in a judgment from an article in Harvard Law Journal: “The quality of a nation’s civilization can be largely measured by the methods it uses in the enforcement of its criminal law.

The panel of distinguished authors assembled by publishers Juta are to be commended for the exceptional quality of this book which reflects their extensive academic, professional and practical experience. Under the editorship of Emeritus Professor of Law J.J. Joubert BA LLB LLD, they are Dr. T. Geldenhuys BA LLB LLD former Professor of Law at Unisa and formerly Head of Governance, Policy and Legislation Management of the SA Police Service, Prof S.S. Terblanche BIur LLB LLD, Professor of Law at Unisa and a former Magistrate, Prof J.P. Swanepoel BA LLB LLM, former Associate Professor of Law at Unisa and a former State Advocate, Prof S.E. van der Merwe B Iuris LLB LLD, former Professor in Public Law at the University of Stellenbosch, Prof G.P. Kemp BA LLB LLM LLD ILSC, Professor of Law at the University of Stellenbosch, Prof M G Karels LLB LLM LLD, Associate Professor of Law at Unisa and an attorney, and Prof M Basdeo BA (Hons) LLB LLM LLD, Nat Dip (Policing), Professor of Law at Unisa and a former Lieutenant-Colonel in the SAPS.

Publisher Juta has ensured that the individual and collective contributions of the authors combine into a coherent and up-to-date exposition of criminal procedure law, having updated this work twelve times since it was first published 23 years ago in 1994. This book may be further complimented by the companion work Criminal Procedure Casebook / Strafprosesregvonnisbundel (second edition 2017) by Professors Kemp, Terblanche and M M Watney.