Robes and wigs, barristers and judge, juries and witnesses, clerks
and files... The English legal system is the classical adversarial
system. Especially in the Crown Courts, one can learn about its main
features: the ten jurors, the competing barristers, the examined and
cross-examined eye-witnesses or experts, the refereeing judge etc.
The hearings in court provoked some severe criticisms regarding the ritualistic
and theatrical character of the legal proceeding.
The sociolegal literature is full of in-court studies, focussing on the talk
in court, the meticulous rituals, the methods of cross-examination or the treatment
of vulnerable witnesses. What seems neglected is the fact that court hearings
rest on a whole lot of preparation, exchange of evidence and preliminary negations
attained during the often extended pre-trial phase. The talk-bias common within
qualitative research leads not only to the exclusion of texts and the prior stages,
but also to some severe misconceptions of what is actually at stake and achieved
in the course of a criminal trial.
The English case study started off the law-in-action project in 2001
with in-court-observation. In a second phase it turned towards a small
law firm to learn about the solicitors’ case-preparation. In a
third phase, the focus shifted towards the barrister representing the
case on the basis of a brief, prepared by the instructing solicitor.
During the first two phases, the research - as well as the pre-study - broadly designed
the three other case studies to come (www.lancs.co.uk).
It first developed tools to tackle pre-trial and trial in criminal proceedings.
Furthermore it had to face the specificities of the English case study
compared to the socio-logics in the other proceedings.
Special Issue on "Law and Biography" in BIOS
Call for Abstracts/French-German Conference on “Enfermement/Freiheitsentzug”
My ethnography on the English Crown Court procedure by BRILL
Our comparative ethnography of criminal defence work in different procedural
regimes by PALGRAVE
Teaching in SS 2011
Scheffer: „Einführung in die Institutionelle Ethnographie“ Kurs in Moodle
Scheffer: „Was tun Verfahren? Eine sozialwissenschaftliche Debatte“ Kurs in Moodle
Scheffer: „Arbeitskreis politische Ethnographie“ Termine in Moodle