A Fair Hearing? by Stephen Shute

By Stephen Shute

This ebook stories on learn which investigates the perceptions of ethnic minorities referring to their therapy within the felony courts. It examines the level to which ethnic minority defendants and witnesses in either the Crown courtroom and the magistrates' courts perceived their remedy to were unfair, whether or not they believed any unfairness to were the results of ethnic bias, and no matter if this had affected their self belief within the felony courts. The learn, conducted by way of the Oxford Centre for Criminological learn in organization with the collage of Birmingham for the Lord Chancellor's division, concerned observations of situations and interviews with greater than 1000 humans (defendants, witnesses, barristers, solicitors, judges, magistrates and others), and inquisitive about courts in Manchester, Birmingham and London. a good listening to? Ethnic minorities within the legal courts starts off via displaying how broadly held the idea has been that ethnic minorities are discriminated opposed to by way of the courts and through different corporations within the felony justice procedure. It discusses the criteria that contributed to this trust, together with the findings of the Macpherson document and the idea of 'institutional racism'. the most a part of the e-book then appears on the institutional surroundings during which the study happened, the adventure of defendants and witnesses, their perspectives approximately how they have been taken care of through the felony courts, and the perspectives of others fascinated with the courtroom procedure. ultimate chapters within the ebook tackle the problem of sensitivity to ethnicity at the a part of judges, magistrates and attorneys. It exhibits that attitudes and practices are appeared to have replaced for the higher and examines what extra should be performed to extend the boldness that contributors of ethnic minorities have within the equity of the legal courts.

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Thirty of the 68 solicitors (44 per cent) were from an ethnic minority (12 black and 18 Asian); and so were 20 of the 44 barristers (45 per cent, 11 black and nine Asian). Of the 112 interviewed, 30 (27 per cent) were women. 83 In identifying minority ethnic defendants we were helped by court-based probation officers. Although we did not formally interview them, the freely expressed views of some of them gave us additional insight into the ‘culture’ of the courts. 28 Researching perceptions their views of the ethnic awareness training they had received; whether they thought that particular issues were raised in cases where ethnic minority defendants appeared before them; and whether anything could be done by the judges or by the court service to improve the confidence of ethnic minorities in the system.

It just went in one ear but out the other . . It’s the thing about drink driving. They don’t really like it. I’m not saying it’s right but 15 months is a bit strong . . The judge has not took my guilty plea into consideration’. Asked whether he thought something had influenced his sentence which shouldn’t have influenced it, he replied: ‘I don’t know, it’s something I’ve wondered about. I’ve never heard of anyone getting 15 months for that before. It’s not like I’ve got a big criminal record’.

Perceived distributive injustice based on a comparative assessment of the type and length of sentence imposed (see page 17 above). Among all three groups of respondents (white, black and Asian) the main complaint – made in both the Crown Court (19 per cent) and the magistrates’ courts (13 per cent) – was that the sentence had been unfair, with little difference evident between the three groups. Very few complained about the conduct or attitude of the judge in the Crown Court or in the magistrates’ courts (seven and four per cent respectively).

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