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

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-09, 02:45 authored by Lucy WelshLucy Welsh
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.

History

Publication status

  • Published

File Version

  • Accepted version

Journal

Papers from the British Criminology Conference

ISSN

1759-0043

Publisher

British Society of Criminology

Volume

13

Page range

3-16

Department affiliated with

  • Law Publications

Full text available

  • Yes

Peer reviewed?

  • Yes

Legacy Posted Date

2016-09-14

First Open Access (FOA) Date

2016-09-14

First Compliant Deposit (FCD) Date

2016-09-14

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