Remorse and Judging
Remorse and Judging, in Remorse in Criminal Justice: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives, Proeve, Tudor, Weisman and Rossmanith eds., Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group (2021)
23 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2020 Last revised: 10 Jan 2022
Date Written: February 9, 2020
This chapter focuses on the judicial evaluation of remorse. It is an article of faith that judges can and should evaluate remorse when determining sentence. Although the dynamics of this evaluation are understudied, the existing literature helps illuminate the assumptions judges employ and the dangers and limitations of those assumptions. Judges rely on evaluation of demeanor and body language and on allocution, and their interpretations are rife with implicit assumptions and unstated rules about what counts as remorse. Many of these assumptions (for example the link between remorse and decreased recidivism and the possibility of assessing remorse from demeanor) lack evidentiary support. These assumptions and implicit rules vary widely from judge to judge. They often fail to account for the influence of race, ethnicity, gender and social class on the expression and evaluation of remorse. Moreover, they put a premium on the willingness to plead guilty, and to do so at the earliest possible opportunity. The chapter draws upon the few existing empirical studies on the topic and identifies areas that require further study.
Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, remorse, judges, sentencing, penal theory, law and emotion
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