Leaving Emotion Out: Litigants in Person and Emotion in New Zealand Civil Courts

18 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2019

Date Written: January 9, 2019

Abstract

English abstract: Litigants in person (LiPs) receive the message that emotion should be “left out” of New Zealand courtrooms. This is a confusing and impossible goal. This paper draws on two empirical studies and argues that the exhortation to leave emotion out is multi-layered, referring to behaving and thinking like a lawyer, including a focus on the commercial or transactional elements of disputes, rather than on other aspects that are important to litigants. This is often not possible for LiPs and it can reduce their sense of procedural justice and result in the omission of legally relevant material. Judges can respond to LiPs who violate the emotion regime by allowing LiPs to explain aspects of the dispute that are salient to them. We need to consider how the civil courts can allow more space for litigants to tell stories, rather than focusing only on the commercial or transactional aspects of disputes.

Spanish abstract: Los litigantes autorrepresentados de Nueva Zelanda reciben el mensaje de que las emociones deben “quedarse fuera” del juzgado. Se trata de un objetivo imposible de lograr. Utilizando material de dos estudios empíricos, este artículo argumenta que la exhortación a desprenderse de las emociones tiene muchas capas, referidas a comportarse y pensar como un abogado, incluyendo la atención dada a los elementos comerciales o transaccionales de una disputa más que a otros aspectos importantes para los litigantes. Las partes que se representan a sí mismas no pueden cumplir ese mandato, y su sentido de justicia procedimental puede verse reducida y resultar en la omisión de material jurídicamente relevante. Los jueces pueden permitir a los autorrepresentados explicar aspectos de la disputa que les parecen destacables. Debemos considerar cómo los juzgados de lo civil pueden dejar que los litigantes cuenten historias en lugar de centrarse sólo en los aspectos comerciales o transaccionales.

Keywords: Emotion, judging, litigants in person, self-represented litigants, civil justice, Emociones, juzgar, litigantes en persona, litigantes autorrepresentados, justicia civil

Suggested Citation

Toy-Cronin, Bridgette, Leaving Emotion Out: Litigants in Person and Emotion in New Zealand Civil Courts (January 9, 2019). Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3312882

Bridgette Toy-Cronin (Contact Author)

University of Otago - Faculty of Law ( email )

PO Box 56
Dunedin North
Dunedin, 9016
New Zealand

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