77911 - Procedural Law and the Judicial System

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities Peace, justice and strong institutions Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The Course is designed to introduce students to the main concepts that characterize the role of judges and public prosecutors and the fundamental values associated thereto. More specifically, it aims at providing the knowledge necessary to promote critical thinking about:

- the fundamental principles affecting the role of judges and prosecutors in States with democratic and liberal tradition;

- the historical development of judicial institutions in Italy and the interplay between the judicial power and the political powers;

- the main values and duties affecting the role of judges and prosecutors and the essential balance between independence and accountability;

- the organization of the administration of justice in Italy;

- the need for effective and efficient justice systems; the ongoing reforms and challenges connected to the modernization of the Italian justice system.

Course contents

The Course is divided into two parts.

The first part is dedicated to the analysis of the organization of the Italian judicial system and the main problems concerning its functioning. Particular attention will be devoted to the following topics: judicial independence, status of judges and public prosecutors, non-professional judges, the governance of the judicial system (the Superior Council of the Magistracy, the Ministry of Justice, the judicial boards), the difficulty to balance judge's independence and accountability, the organization of the Italian judicial/prosecutorial offices, the 2022 reforms ("Cartabia Reform", PNRR). References will be provided to the historical evolution of judicial institutions, to the political system, to the international and comparative dimension. 

Additional topics are: the main features of judicial activity, the theory of legal action, the role of the different actors of the proceedings, the structure of the civil and criminal proceedings.

The second part is dedicated to the organization of criminal justice. Particular attention will be devoted to investigative, prosecutorial and adjudicating functions, considering also the political and constitutional dimension. Moreover, in consultation with the students, research teams will be established to explore the recent history of the Italian magistracy according to the following periodizations:

  • YEARS 1950-60: Magistracy and Constitution
  • YEARS 1970-80: Magistracy and terrorism
  • YEARS 1980-90: Magistracy and Mafia fight
  • YEARS 1990-2000: Magistracy and political corruption
  • YEARS 2000: Magistracy and European Union

The course will be supplemented with the analysis of case studies, reform bills, research reports and empirical data.


G. DI FEDERICO (a cura di), Ordinamento Giudiziario. Uffici giudiziari, CSM e governo della magistratura, BUP, 2019;

R. ORLANDI, Organizzazione della giustizia penale, in P. BIAVATI, D. CAVALLINI, R. ORLANDI, Assetti della giustizia civile e penale italiana, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2016 (chapters no. 10, 11, 12, 13);

E. BRUTI-LIBERATI, Magistratura e società nell’Italia repubblicana, Laterza, Bari-Roma, 2018 

The programme is also valid for Erasmus students.

Suggested readings for the research teams:

  1. Anni 50/60Magistratura e impegno politico
  • Romano Canosa, Storia di un pretore, Torino, Einaudi, 1978 (p.1-44)
  • Dino Risi, In nome del popolo italiano (DVD film del 1972)
  1. Anni ’70 – Magistratura e terrorismo

    Marc Lazar e Marie-Ann Mattard-Bonucci, Il libro degli anni di piombo. Storia e memoria del terrorismo italiano, Milano, Rizzoli, 2010 (p. 407-428)

  2. Anni ’80 – Magistratura e mafia
  • Giovanni Falcone, Cose di cosa nostra, Milano, Rizzoli, 1992
  1. Anni ’90 – Magistratura e corruzione politica
  • Mani pulite (DVD film documentario) 2004 a cura di A. Pamparana

Teaching methods

The course takes place during a semester and it is divided into two parts. Seminars will be organized during the course with the participation of distinguished experts and scholars.

Assessment methods

Oral exam. The exams of Constitutional law and Private law are pre-conditions to be admitted to the exam.

The final grade will be determined as follows:

18-19: very poor knowledge of the course's contents

20-24: poor knowledge of the course's contents and limited capacity to organize critical thoughts

25-29: good knowledge of the course's contents and good capacity to organize critical thoughts

30-30 cum laude: excellent knowledge of the course's contents and excellent capacity to organize critical thoughts

Teaching tools

Slides and further documents will be used during the course to analyse specific subjects. They will be available in the virtual space of the course.

Office hours

See the website of Daniela Cavallini

See the website of Renzo Orlandi