I am looking for a translation for the Hebrew term משפט זוטא (literally, "small trial").

This term denotes a procedure in which a defendant in a trial, after having confessed in earlier interrogation, claims during the trial that the confession was obtained by illegitimate means and should not be used as evidence. When this happens, the "main" trial is paused and the court turns to discuss the validity of the confession; in this "trial within a trial" the original defendant now has to prove his claim, while the original prosecution defends its position that the confession is valid.

This procedure is supposed to originate from the English (British) legal system. The literal translation Minitrial seems to be an American term and has a completely different meaning. I am not sure there is an equivalent procedure in the American judicial system.

I am looking for an answer from British English speakers. Does this procedure exist, and is there a name for or?


There is a term, but it is technical and not well known except to criminal lawyers. The term is from Old French; the mini-trial is called a "voir dire" (Literally "Truth speaking")

If a defendant wishes to challenge the admissibility of a confession the court will usually decide the issue by holding a mini-trial (known as a ‘voir dire’) where both sides can call evidence to support their argument on admissibility. -- Admissablitity of Confessions

If you are writing for lawyers you could use this piece of jargon. You would need to explain the meaning for normal people. Before researching this answer I would have had no idea what "voir dire" could mean.

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  • Thank you @James.I have indeed never heard this term. Looking into the linked Wikipedia, "voir dire" does describe a similar procedure in Commonwealth legal systems, although the term has a broader meaning. – laugh salutes Monica C Dec 16 '19 at 7:20

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