Judicial murder

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Judicial murder is a catchphrase for the death penalty carried out on an innocent person as a result of miscarriage of justice or abuse of law .

Origin and meaning of the term

The use of the term was first known in an article in the "Reichspostreuter" from January 4, 1783, which reported on the execution of the alleged witch Anna Göldi , reprinted by August Ludwig von Schlözer in the "State announcements" in February 1783. Defined in a footnote he describes the judicial murder as the “murder of an innocent, deliberate, and so even with all the pomp of salvation. Justice, carried out by people who are ordered to prevent murder from happening or, if it does happen, be properly punished. ” The term judicial murder is related to the term “ assassins juridiques ” coined by Voltaire  - the legal one Killer. He used this expression in a letter to Frederick II in April 1777.

The definition of August Ludwig Schlozer includes seen initially only cases in which the judicial murder at the same time an act of right diffraction is by the judicial proceedings perversion of an instrument for removing the innocent.

In linguistic usage, however, cases of a miscarriage of justice were increasingly referred to as “judicial murder”. The contradiction to the terminology of criminal law , according to which murder can of course only be the willful killing of another person, is negligible, because the term judicial murder was and is never a jurisprudential but always a legal political argument, especially with regard to the death penalty . Hermann Mostar gives a reason for expanding the scope of the term :

“But not only lay people, also lawyers have retained the term 'judicial murder' and extended it to every punishment of an innocent - with good reason. For where a criminal insidiously and cruelly harms his neighbor in life, limb and property, not for low motives, he may only be a manslayer, a body injurer, a robber; but where the authority entrusted with justice condemns a guilty person, be it under the influence of pressure from above, outside or below, out of negligence or overzealousness, out of cadaver obedience or loyalty to the letter of the law, then it murders: sometimes his life , sometimes his reputation, sometimes his and his own advancement and happiness - and always oneself. Here also error becomes murder; And if 'an innocent convict is the matter of all decent people' (La Bruyère), so is he even more so if he has been convicted by decent people. "

- Hermann Mostar

More judicial murders


  • August Ludwig von Schlözer : Another judicial murder in Switzerland. In: Stats Ads . 2, 1782, ZDB -ID 513959-4 , H. 7, pp. 273-277, online .
  • Julius Mühlfeld: Collected Works 4, 5: Judicial murders. Selection based on official sources. 2nd Edition. Greaves, Berlin 1880.
  • Hermann Mostar: convicted innocently! From the chronicle of the judiciary murders . Herbig-Verlag, Munich et al. 1956.
  • Bernt Ture von zur Mühlen : Napoleon's judicial murder of the German bookseller Johann Philipp Palm. Braman Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003, ISBN 3-934054-16-1 .
  • Walter Hauser : The judicial murder of Anna Göldi. New research on the last witch trial in Europe. Limmat Verlag , Zurich 2007, ISBN 978-3-85791-525-3


  1. Eveline Hasler : Anna Göldin. Last witch , follow-up notes.
  2. von Schlözer, p. 273

Web links

Wiktionary: Judicial murder  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations