Judges, Conflict, and the Past

Journal of Law and Society, 2015, Volume 42, Issue 4.

Posted: 20 Dec 2016

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: 2015

Abstract

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, 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 it is argued 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.

Keywords: judicial behavior, judicial performance, transitional justice, Northern Ireland

Suggested Citation

McEvoy, Kieran and Schwartz, Alex, Judges, Conflict, and the Past (2015). Journal of Law and Society, 2015, Volume 42, Issue 4., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2887415

Kieran McEvoy

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

School of Law
Belfast BT7 1NN, BT7 1NN
Ireland

Alex Schwartz (Contact Author)

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

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

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