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Architects of justice: the politics of courtroom design

Mulcahy, Linda (2007) Architects of justice: the politics of courtroom design. Social and Legal Studies, 16 (3). pp. 383-403. ISSN 0964-6639

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0964663907079765


This article looks at the interface between the design of courtrooms and the notion of participatory justice. In contrast to a vision of judicial space as neutral, this article argues that understanding the factors which determine the internal design of the courtroom is crucial to a broader and more nuanced understanding of judgecraft. The use of space in the courtroom has changed significantly since custom-built courthouses first appeared, and these changes often reflect struggles for territory. In this article I focus on the ways the role of the spectator has been marginalized within the court and led to the demise of the notion of `public' trial. This has been achieved through a series of design guides which ensure that participants in the trial are isolated and surveyed. The origins of these guides can be traced to the mid-Victorian era in which the public were often conceived of as threatening and `dirty'.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2007 SAGE Publications
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2010 14:48
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2024 02:27

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