Criminal Judges

Criminal Judges

Legitimacy, Courts and State-Induced Guilty Pleas in Britain

Mike McConville and Luke Marsh

Against a backdrop of a dysfunctional criminal justice system, the authors bring an avalanche of legal and empirical material to question the legitimacy of the relationship between judges, lawyers, politicians and defendants in modern Britain. Examining existing legal structures and court practices through the lens of what used to be called ‘plea bargaining’ the authors provide a graphic picture of why case disposals through enforced guilty pleas promote injustice, feed discrimination and skew the judicial function. This is the most comprehensive examination to date of case disposition methods in England, Wales and Scotland., underpinned by a new socio-legal theory on the criminal process. Criminal Judges is sure to provoke debate on the forces which drive the criminal justice process and will therefore be of great interest to all those concerned about the future of criminal justice policies and practices. It will appeal to academics, researchers, policy advisors and practitioners of criminal law.

Chapter 4: Lowering the Bar

Mike McConville and Luke Marsh

Subjects: law - academic, criminal law and justice


The formal re-ordering of power relations within the criminal justice system which Turner had instituted was only the start of a transformation which would continue for the next forty years. Over this period, the often-claimed 'neutrality' of the trial judge would be openly discarded, the professed 'independence' of the Bar further attenuated and 'the interests of the client' sidelined on the altar of State-defined 'efficiency'. In this chapter, we trace how the deep-seated message of Turner was brought to the surface and sanitised in the quest for the proclaimed 'cost-efficient' disposal of criminal cases.

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