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COURTROOM ELITE - AN ORGANIZATIONAL PERSPECTIVE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE

NCJ Number
53645
Author(s)
P F NARDULLI
Date Published
1978
Length
263 pages
Annotation
USING DATA FROM RESEARCH ON HUNDREDS OF VARIABLES IN OVER 1,500 CRIMINAL DISPOSITIONS, THIS STUDY DEVELOPS AND TESTS A FELONY DISPOSITION MODEL WHICH TAKES THE PURSUIT OF SELF-INTEREST BY COURTROOM PROFESSIONALS INTO ACCOUNT.
Abstract
THE JUDGE, PROSECUTOR, AND DEFENSE COUNSEL (THE COURTROOM ELITE) HAVE A GREAT AMOUNT OF DECISIONMAKING POWER IN HANDLING CRIMINAL CASES WHICH IS NOT SUBJECT TO EXTERNAL CONTROL AND IS DIFFICULT TO EVALUATE. A REVIEW OF SOME HISTORICAL STUDIES WHICH CONSIDERED CRIMINAL COURT ACTIVITIES INDICATES THAT THESE STUDIES NEGLECTED TO CONSIDER THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS POWER FACTOR IN THEIR ANALYSES. AN ORGANIZATIONAL MODE OF COURT ANALYSIS, HOWEVER, INTEGRATES EXTERNAL FACTORS (E.G., ELITES' PERCEPTIONS OF THEIR WORKLOADS), ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS (E.G., SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS CONCERNING HOW COURTS SHOULD OPERATE), AND SETTING (INCLUDING PERSONNEL, TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS, AND THE PHYSICAL COURTROOM). IT ALSO DEALS WITH THE INSTITUTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF CRIMINAL COURTS AND RECOGNIZES THE INTERPLAY OF THESE INTERNAL FACTORS WITH PARTICULAR TYPES OF CRIMINAL CASES AND OTHER EXTERNAL FACTORS. AN ORGANIZATIONAL MODEL OF COURT ANALYSIS WAS APPLIED TO THE FELONY COURT SYSTEM IN CHICAGO, ILL., FROM 1972 TO 1973. THE STRUCTURE OF THE COURT AND ITS ENVIRONMENT IS OUTLINED AND DATA COLLECTION AND MEASUREMENT IS DESCRIBED. THE EMPIRICAL REPORT OUTLINES AND ANALYZES TYPES OF TASKS PERFORMED BY THE DIFFERENT COURTROOM WORKGROUPS--DEGRADATION CEREMONIES, INFORMAL SANCTIONING, SOCIALIZATION AND TRAINING, DEFENSE COUNSEL PLACEMENT, SCREENING, CONVICTION PROCUREMENT, AND SENTENCING. THE SENTENCING ANALYSIS PROVIDED SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FINDINGS: SENTENCES WERE GENERALLY LOWER AFTER A GUILTY PLEA THAN AFTER A TRIAL, PLEA-BARGAINING POSITIONS WERE IMPORTANT, AND THE EXTENT OF THE DEFENDANT'S RESISTANCE AFTER A TRIAL CONVICTION TO CORDIALITY NORMS GREATLY AFFECTED THE SEVERITY OF THE SENTENCE PARTICULARLY WHEN THE JUDGE AND COURT WERE UNDER PRESSURE FROM HEAVY CASELOADS. NOTES, TABULAR DATA, AND AN INDEX ARE PROVIDED. (DAG)