Research Handbook on Law and Courts
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Research Handbook on Law and Courts

Edited by Susan M. Sterett and Lee D. Walker

The Research Handbook on Law and Courts provides a systematic analysis of new work on courts as governing institutions. Authors consider how courts have taken on regulating fundamental categories of inclusion and exclusion, including citizenship rights. Courts’ centrality to governance is addressed in sections on judicial processes, sub-national courts, and political accountability, all analyzed in multiple legal/political systems. Other chapters turn to analyzing the worldwide push for diversity in staffing courts. Finally, the digitization of records changes both court processes and studying courts. Authors included in the Handbook discuss theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches to studying courts as governing institutions. They also identify promising areas of future research.
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Chapter 11: Court architecture and the justice system

Patrícia Branco, Peter Robson and Johnny Rodger


The past century has seen a significant expansion of dedicated courtroom buildings in two separate but comparable countries, Portugal and Scotland. The architecture of both countries embodies different national and civic values. In the case of Portugal, two particular types of building are encountered with design driven by the varying demands of central government. The first of those types comprises structures erected during the period of the dictatorship from 1926 to 1974 with a stress on the nobility of justice through monumental buildings with accompanying decoration and symbols of justice. The more recent period has seen a less homogeneous approach with both purpose built and adapted buildings often providing spaces of mediocre quality, limited decoration and justice-related symbols. In Scotland the earlier nineteenth century buildings followed the design preferences of local professionals and what was produced were, for the most part, either classical Greek temples of justice or neo-Baronial strong houses of the law. In both cases the buildings were typically unadorned by symbols of justice. Recent centralization has altered that flexibility. In the twenty-first century in both Portugal and Scotland the expressed need to reduce expenditure on such public services, through the device of court reform, is in danger of altering the role of the courts as expressions of national or civic spirit. Here governments are seeking to economize in a way which contrasts with more expansive and design-centred approaches taken in such countries as France and the United States.

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