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Research Reports 2000

These are reports from research we have completed.

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» No 3/2000 - The effects on magistrates of learning that the defendant has a previous conviction - By Dr Sally Lloyd-Bostock, University of Birmingham

This report presents the results of a simulation study of the effects of informing magistrates about a defendant's prior record, using videotapes of reconstructed trials.

The law of evidence broadly assumes that the prejudicial effects of evidence of previous convictions outweighs any probative value, and a jury or magistrate may not be told of them at trial unless particular exceptions apply. The rules have been under review by the Law Commission, but empirical research on the effects of knowing about previous convictions has been scarce. The report also describes magistrates' experiences of inadvertently learning of previous convictions, and their views as to whether juries or magistrates should ever be told of them. The results are compared with the results of an earlier study using simulated juries, giving an indication of how far magistrates and juries react similarly to previous convictions.

» No 2/2000 - Factors affecting the decision to apply for Silk and Judicial Office - By Kate Malleson, London School of Economics and Fareda Banda, School of Oriental and African Studies

Based on data from questionnaires and in-depth interviews, this research identifies factors which influence the decisions of women lawyers and lawyers from minority ethnic groups when considering whether to apply for Silk or Judicial Office. The findings show that despite general support for recent reforms introduced by the Lord Chancellor's Department, there remains widespread dissatisfaction with the continuing effects of indirect discrimination and patronage in the legal profession and that there is a perception that there is a need to be 'known' through informal networking in order to succeed in the consultation process.

» No 1/2000 - Assumptions about lawyers in policy statements: a survey of relevant research - by P.S.C. Lewis, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford

Assumptions are an essential element in human communication and argument; nothing could be achieved if every assumption had to be spelled out and checked. nevertheless, sometimes it is worth taking a closer look at assumptions. this report looks at assumptions about lawyers in government policy statements, and reviews research which may be relevant to them.

The subject-matter includes assumptions about the behaviour of lawyers in family matters, the nature of predictions of case outcomes, the control of quality in publicly funded legal services by contracts and monitoring, the position of lawyers in organisations and what kind of businesses law firms are. The research discussed includes empirical research about lawyers in family matters, accounts of probability judgements in social psychology, recent research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on contracting in the private and "quasi-market" sectors, and business school research on knowledge- based service organisations.


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