Anglia Ruskin University
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Efficiency & the summary justice process: a courtroom observation study of an English magistrates’ court

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posted on 2023-08-30, 19:57 authored by Shaun Yates
This thesis argues that there are summary justice practices which prioritise managerial values of speediness and procedural standardisation over other quality justice values (including but not limited to verdict accuracy, defendant comprehension and sentence proportionality). The thesis also argues that court users are experiencing significant adversity during the summary justice process, rendering the process inefficient from their perspective. From these findings, the thesis develops policy reform recommendations aimed at improving the summary justice process. Some of these reform recommendations draw attention to the capacity of the summary justice process to maintain its speediness whilst upholding quality justice values. This thesis offers a case study of a single English magistrates’ courthouse. It utilises novel stenographic data that the researcher collected from 66 days of court observations, over a 6-month period. Developing from Packer’s seminal 1968 work, this thesis also utilises MacDonald’s (2008) theoretical framework to understand social values in multi-dimensional (pluralistic) terms. The thesis also utilises ideas of post-managerialism, procedural due process and social justice to support its critical discussions of courtroom practices (Raine and Willson, 1997; Ward, 2016). The thesis presents its findings thematically across three chapters. This thesis makes a significant and original contribution to knowledge by using novel in-court observational data to form a unique perspective on summary justice efficiency. From this unique perspective, the thesis offers reform recommendations aimed at addressing the problem of summary justice over-efficiency.



Anglia Ruskin University

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  • Doctoral

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