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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.



New activities

Special Issue on "Law and Biography" in BIOS

Call for Abstracts/French-German Conference on “Enfermement/Freiheitsentzug

Latest Texts/Books

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

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