Criminal Judges
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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.
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Chapter 7: Scotland: coercion and discourse

Mike McConville and Luke Marsh


The experience of Scotland provides an example of a jurisdiction being forced to come to terms with State-induced guilty pleas and appearing to respond in marked contrast to the courts of England and Wales. Whereas judges in the latter jurisdiction initiated and sponsored such pleas, in the higher courts judges in Scotland were pitch-forked into the issue by statute and, having first expressed resistance, continued to show discomfort (and disagreement) after their realisation that compliance with statute was unavoidable. While the English influence can still be detected, Scottish judges confront State-induced guilty pleas both individually and institutionally in a manner which symbolises Scotland's unique engagement with the independence of its judicial system. Nevertheless, outside the higher courts, the Scottish system is showing signs of significant departure from traditional practices and ideologies.

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