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Ius et Praxis

versão On-line ISSN 0718-0012


COUSO, Jaime  e  MERA, Jorge. El Rol Uniformador de la Jurisprudencia de la Sala Penal de la Corte Suprema: Estudio empírico. Ius et Praxis [online]. 2007, vol.13, n.1, pp.315-392. ISSN 0718-0012.

Since 1995, the Chilean Supreme Court counts with specialized chambers for knowing determinate matters. One of the main objectives in creating these specialized chambers consisted in assuring a more certain and uniform application of the law. This article focuses on the case-law produced by the Supreme Court's criminal chamber, trying to assess the extent to which the goal of a uniform application of the law was achieved during the years 1995-2002. In order to do so, the study utilizes the conceptual framework elaborated by relevant American research on the following of precedents, assuming that a more uniform application of the law is the natural result of that kind of court behavior. According to that research, the degree to which the precedents set by a Supreme Court are actually followed can be ascertained in two levels: first, by examining the phenomena within the Supreme Court itself, where a justice's precedential attitude depends on a low level of salience of the issue addressed, which in turns depends on specific historical circumstances (Spaeth & Segal); second, by studying the issue in a 'vertical' direction, that is, through the examination of the extend to which the behavior of lower court's is congruent with the jurisprudence elaborated by the Supreme Court, which depends on certain institutional conditions studied under the principal/agent relationship model (Songer, Segal & Cameron). This study examines precisely the degree of precedent-following exhibited by the Criminal Chamber of the Chilean Supreme Court and by the country's High courts with regard to five precedent-setting cases decided by the former. After an extensive analysis of court decisions and in depth-interviews of Supreme Court's justices and High Court's judges, as well as criminal-lawyers, the study concludes that the introduction of a Supreme Courts' Criminal Chamber has produced ambivalent, if not poor, outcomes in terms of a uniformity of its jurisprudence, both within the Criminal Chamber itself and at the High courts' level

Palavras-chave : Case law; precedents; Criminal law; Supreme Court; Criminal Chamber; High Court.

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