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The German Case Study

Bright colours, big numbers on the courtroom doors, monitors that show the schedule of the day. It would be hard to get lost in the hallways of the Amtsgericht. Everything cries out: transparency!

Heavy iron doors, dim light, confusing staircases that never take you where you wanted to go. It takes courage to even enter the Landgericht. Everything here whispers: back off. This dual image two courts in the German case study drew and the seemingly mutually exclusive challenges they directed at the visitor have been undercurrents of the German case study.

The fieldwork for the German case study was conducted by Kati Hannken-Illjes. It was located in two cities and two law firms. The focus has been on following criminal cases in their development in time. From the beginning of a case in the defence lawyers practice, to observing the lawyer writing motions, working through the file, talking with the client to (in most cases) the main hearing. The collected data includes copies of documents, notes, audio recordings of lawyer-client conferences and ethnographic interviews as well as photographs and media coverage of the criminal cases I could follow.

The German case study currently focuses, besides the comparative issues all case studies will inquire, on narrative, argumentation and the relationship of both in criminal casework. Where is narrative on different levels in criminal cases? What does it need from the side of lawyer to get a narrative going? How can the career paths of narratives be described? What role does argumentation from a lay’s perspective play the building of a case? How does the case respond to an absence of reasons? How negotiable is the validity of arguments in court and how does that relate to the production of rationality in court? And how, after all, do stories and arguments work together in the (de-/ re-)construction of the defence case?



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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