Briefly explain how France's criminal trial system works and compare and contrast it to the U.S. system.

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The French have what is called a civil law system.  This means that their law is based code or the interpretation of laws (or statutes).  The only state in the United States that has a civil law system is Louisiana.  All the remaining states follow a common law system.  Common law means that a court will look at prior rulings of appellate courts and make decisions based on how those prior cases were interpreted.  So the closer the facts of a current case look like a case previously decided, then the more likely a court will follow that decision.  This means U.S. courts use a system of what is called precedent to decide a case.

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