SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article #1: Young, R. (2013). Exploring the boundaries of the criminal courtroom workgroup. Common Law World Review, 42(3), 203-239. doi:10.1350/clwr.2013.42.3.0254

Abstract: The concept of the courtroom workgroup has become a standard way of explaining patterns of decisions produced by, and dynamics within, criminal trial courts in common law jurisdictions. Many such explanations are, however, based on a superficial use of the concept that overlooks its analytical richness. The present contribution aims to address this by suggesting ways in which it might be used more fruitfully. In particular, it is argued that linking the concept to social theory will bring into focus the kind of methodological strategies necessary to understand what matters to members of courtroom workgroups, and how these commitments are linked to actual practice. The arguments are illustrated by reference to some original data from a study of legal aid decision-making in the magistrates' courts of Northern Ireland. Attention is focused on how judges and lawyers patrolled, explored and challenged the boundaries of workgroup norms and practices. Such boundary-work is shown to provide insights into the interdependent relationships that characterize the lower criminal court workgroup.


Journal Article #2: Hall, M. E. K. (2014). Testing judicial power: The influence of the U.S. Supreme Court on federal incarceration. American Politics Research, 43(1), 83-108. doi:10.1177/1532673X14534063

Abstract: The U.S. Supreme Court is traditionally thought to hold little influence over social or political change; however, recent evidence suggests the Court may wield significant power, especially with regard to criminal justice. Most studies evaluate judicial power by examining the effects of individual rulings on the implementation of specific policies, but this approach may overlook the broader impact of courts on society. Instead, I adopt an aggregate approach to test U.S. Supreme Court power. I find that aggregate conservative decision making by the Court is positively associated with long-term shifts in new admissions to U.S. federal prisons. These results suggest the Court possesses significant power to influence important social outcomes, at least in the context of the criminal justice system.