Judges, Conflict, and the Past

28 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2015

See all articles by Kieran McEvoy

Kieran McEvoy

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law

Alex Schwartz

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2015


Drawing upon interviews with senior judicial figures in Northern Ireland, South Africa and elsewhere, this article considers the role of the judiciary in a political conflict. Using the socio‐legal literature on judicial performance and audience as well as transitional justice scholarship, the article argues that judges in Northern Ireland ‘performed’ to a number of ‘imagined’ audiences including Parliament, ‘the public', and their judicial peers – all of which shaped their view of the judicial role. In light of ongoing efforts to deal with the past in the jurisdiction, and the experiences of other transitional societies, the article argues that the judiciary can and should engage in a mature, reflexive and, where appropriate, self‐critical examination of the good and bad of their own institutional history during the conflict. It also argues that such a review of judicial performance requires an external audience in order to encourage the judiciary to see truth beyond the limits of legalism.

Suggested Citation

McEvoy, Kieran and Schwartz, Alex, Judges, Conflict, and the Past (December 2015). Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 42, Issue 4, pp. 528-555, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2688301 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2015.00724.x

Kieran McEvoy (Contact Author)

Queen's University Belfast - School of Law ( email )

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN

Alex Schwartz

The University of Hong Kong - Faculty of Law ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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