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NCJ Number: 64542 Find in a Library
Title: CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION AND JUDICIAL DISCRETION - A LOOK AT THE VERBAL BEHAVIOR OF MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGES
Journal: LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR  Volume:2  Issue:2  Dated:(1978)  Pages:323-337
Author(s): G FONTAINE; C EMILY
Corporate Author: Plenum Publishing Corp
United States of America
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Plenum Publishing Corp
New York, NY 10013-1576
Sale Source: Plenum Publishing Corp
233 Spring Street
New York, NY 10013-1576
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE STUDY ANALYZED JUDGES' VERBAL STATEMENTS IN REAL COURTROOM SETTINGS IN ORDER TO ASCERTAIN THE RELEVANCE OF MODELS OF ATTRIBUTION PROCESSES.
Abstract: A REVIEW OF PRIOR RESEARCH DISCUSSES FINDINGS CONCERNING JUDICIAL DISCRETION IN RELATION TO LOGICAL ATTRIBUTION, EGO-MOTIVATED ATTRIBUTION, STEREOTYPING, AND THE STUDY OF PROCESSES IN CONTEXT. JUDGES' VERBAL STATEMENTS WERE TRANSCRIBED FROM AUDIO TAPERECORDINGS OF 72 COMPLETE CASES IN THE MUNICIPAL COURT OF KANSAS CITY, MO. CASES WERE DISTRIBUTED AMONG FIVE OF THE EIGHT JUDGES SITTING DURING THE COURSE OF THE STUDY AND INVOLVED BOTH GENERAL ORDINANCE AND TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS. MUNICIPAL COURT WAS SELECTED BECAUSE THE JUDGE USUALLY KNOWS LESS ABOUT THE CRIME AND DEFENDANT PRIOR TO TRIAL AND THUS IS LESS LIKELY TO HAVE PREJUDGED THE CASE. THE JUDGE DOES MORE VERBAL INTERROGATION THAN IN SOME OTHER COURTS AND IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE BOTH FOR VERDICTS AND SENTENCES. SPECIFIC DOCKETS WERE RANDOMLY SELECTED, AND EVERY CASE IN A DOCKET WAS RECORDED. AFTER TAPING, CASES WERE TRANSCRIBED, AND RECORDINGS WERE SUPPLEMENTED WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THE DEFENDANT'S SEX, RACE, AND ESTIMATED AGE. FOLLOWING TRANSCRIPTION, STATEMENTS WERE BROKEN DOWN INTO SEPARATE PHRASES TO FORM FOUR MAIN CATEGORIES: (1) JUDGE ASKS FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE DEFENDANT, (2) JUDGE ASKS FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE CRIME, (3) JUDGE STATES REASONS FOR VERDICT, AND (4) JUDGE STATES REASONS FOR SENTENCE. JUDGES MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE CRIME OR THE DEFENDANT AND LEAST FREQUENTLY STATED REASONS FOR THE SENTENCE. FOR EFFICIENCY, ONLY SEPARATE ONE-WAY ANALYSES ON DIFFERENCES IN MEAN RATES OF PHRASES PER CASE ARE PRESENTED. JUDGES GAVE REASONS FOR THE SENTENCE MORE FREQUENTLY PER CASE FOR MALES THAN FEMALES, GAVE REASONS FOR THE VERDICT MORE FREQUENTLY FOR BLACK DEFENDANTS THAN WHITE DEFENDANTS, ALTHOUGH ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY IN TERMS OF THE PROSECUTION'S LACK OF PREPAREDNESS, AND GAVE REASONS FOR THE SENTENCE MORE FREQUENTLY FOR DEFENDANTS OVER 30 THAN UNDER 30. THESE AND OTHER FINDINGS OF THE STUDY INDICATE THAT CAREFUL COLLECTION OF JUDGES' VERBAL STATEMENTS CAN SERVE AS A FRUITFUL SOURCE OF DATA UPON WHICH A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF JUDICIAL DISCRETION CAN IN PART BE BASED. DATA, A REFERENCE NOTE, AND REFERENCES ARE PROVIDED. (PRG)
Index Term(s): Judges; Judicial discretion; Missouri; Tape recordings; Traffic courts; Voice communications
Note: PRICE QUOTED IS FOR THE ENTIRE ISSUE.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=64542

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