Are magistrates' courts really a ‘law free zone’? Participant observation and specialist use of language

Welsh, Lucy (2013) Are magistrates' courts really a ‘law free zone’? Participant observation and specialist use of language. Papers from the British Criminology Conference, 13. pp. 3-16. ISSN 1759-0043

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Abstract

My research assesses the impact of changes to legally-aided representation in magistrates’ courts operating in East Kent (a designated court area) in the context of structural change driven by neoliberal forms of governance. This paper presents some findings following periods of observation at the relevant court area. Past socio-legal studies of magistrates’ courts, largely conducted when most defendants were unrepresented, suggest that the technical nature of proceedings excludes defendants from effective participation in the process. My preliminary findings support the view that court processes tend to marginalise defendants despite greater levels of representation. However, there also appear to be some differences between this study and findings seen in earlier studies. I suggest that marginalisation is exacerbated by implicit references to legal provisions that a non-lawyer would struggle to identify. This paper considers the issue from three angles – sentencing, bail and case management.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Law
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Lucy Welsh
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2016 09:21
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2017 06:51
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/63163

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