SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 5.1

Schoenfeld, H. (2005). Violated trust: Conceptualizing prosecutorial misconduct. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 21(3), 250-271.

In the past decade, investigations into wrongful convictions have uncovered multiple incidents of prosecutorial misconduct during trial. This article proposes a theoretical explanation of prosecutorial misconduct with the goal of prompting further research. The theory builds from the characterization of prosecutors as agents of trust and prosecutorial misconduct as a violation of the norms of trust. Utilizing theories of occupational crime, the theory explains how the structure of the trust relationship creates motivation and opportunities for misconduct. Motivation to engage in misconduct stems from prosecutors’ definitions of success, which are influenced by the reward structure and the availability of techniques of neutralization. Opportunities for misconduct arise because of the organization of the prosecutorial role and weak sanctions for prosecutors’ misbehavior. Given the motivation and opportunity, prosecutors’ decision to engage in misconduct depends on their evaluation of existing opportunities, which is influenced by their workplace subculture and their values and beliefs.

Article 5.2

Cohen, N. J. (2001). Nonlawyer judges and the professionalization of justice: Should an endangered species be preserved? Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice17(1), 19-36.

This article examines the scope of nonlawyer judges in state and local trial courts, with an emphasis on courts of limited jurisdiction. It looks at trends in legal education and the current emphasis on judicial ethics. A review of statewide court reform in Pennsylvania is detailed as representative of many states’ experiences. An analysis of criminal defendants’ due process rights before nonlawyer judges reviews cases from the U.S. Supreme Court and the Tennessee Supreme Court. The article concludes with the ideas about the future of nonlawyer judges.

Article 5.3

Boyd, C. (2016). Representation on the courts? The effects of trial judges’ sex and race. Political Research Quarterly69(4), 788-799.

Scholars have long sought to resolve whether and to what degree political actor diversity influences the outputs of political institutions like legislatures, administrative agencies, and courts. When it comes to the judiciary, diverse judges may greatly affect outcomes. Despite this potential, no consensus exists for whether judicial diversity affects behavior in trial courts—that is, the stage where the vast majority of litigants interact with the judicial branch. After addressing the research design limitations in previous trial court-diversity studies, the results here indicate that a trial judge’s sex and race have very large effects on his or her decision making. These results have important implications for how we view diversity throughout the judiciary and are particularly timely given the Obama Administration’s over 200 female and minority appointments to the federal trial courts.

Article 5.4

Cohen, T. (2012). Who is better at defending criminal? Does type of defense attorney matter in terms of producing favorable case outcomes. Criminal Justice Policy Review25(1), 29-58.

The role of defense counsel in criminal cases constitutes a topic of substantial importance for judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, scholars, and policymakers. What types of defense counsel (e.g., public defenders, privately retained attorneys, or assigned counsel) represent defendants in criminal cases and how do these defense counsel types perform in terms of securing favorable outcomes for their clients? These and other issues are addressed in this article analyzing felony case-processing data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Specifically, this article examines whether differences in defense counsel representation matter in terms of the probability of conviction and severity of sentence imposed. Results show that private attorneys and public defenders secure similar adjudication and sentencing outcomes for their clients. Defendants with assigned counsel, however, receive less favorable outcomes compared to their counterparts with public defenders. This article concludes by discussing the policy implications of these findings and possible avenues for future research.