Judging in the criminal courts in this age of austerity

Darbyshire, Penny (2011) Judging in the criminal courts in this age of austerity. In: Society of Legal Scholars (SLS) Annual Conference 2011: Law in politics, politics in law; 05 - 08 Sep 2011, Cambridge, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Using the findings of Nuffield-funded observational research from 2003 to 2011, plus conversations and interview material with a broad section of district, circuit, High Court and Court of Appeal judges, this paper discusses how judges in the post-Millenium criminal courts struggle to do justice and dispose of cases in a system increasingly starved of resources. Judges’ tools of the trade are inadequate, in terms of court staff, equipment, buildings, IT and administrative support. By 2011, the sitting days of Crown Court judges are restricted, so some courtrooms stand idle, with judges frustrated that they must adjourn cases until December or January. Despite the passing of the Criminal Procedure Rules, in the effort to speed cases efficiently through the courts, cases cannot proceed for that reason and because the judge lacks the support of the agencies she depends upon: prosecution, defence lawyers, probation, youth justice agencies and social workers. All are starved of resources. Some court users fail to take responsibility for their shortcomings. The paper will including research findings from July/August 2011.

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