Doing and Showing Justice: the Work of Judges and Prosecutors Performing Impartiality

Tuesday 20th November 2018, 6-7.30pm

In the Chair: Sheriff Tom Welsh, QC

Prof. Stina Bergman Blix, Uppsala University, Sweden

In their decision-making, Judges and Prosecutors have to be impartial, operating in the best interests of the public. Yet at the same time their decision-making must take account of the subjective views and feelings of those affected.  This can demand remarkable human skill. To do justice, Judges and Prosecutors have not only to consider the subjective views of those coming before them, but are increasingly expected to show that they have done so. This demands understanding and empathy as well as effective communication, while also remaining impartial.

All of this raises fascinating and difficult questions including for example:

  • How do Judges and Prosecutors balance the competing demands of impartiality with the requirement to understand the subjective feelings of people appearing before the court?
  • In cases which may be highly emotionally-charged, how do Judges and Prosecutors manage the ‘emotion tenor’ in court? How, for example, do they manage the dilemma of allowing people to have a voice and be listened to, yet also ensure that the right decision is made in the interests of the public?
  • How can public understanding and confidence in the difficult work and daily dilemmas faced by judges, prosecutors (and the criminal courts more generally) be enhanced?

Professor Stina Bergman Blix has been studying the work of judges and prosecutors in Sweden for the last eight years.  She will outline her findings about how prosecutors and judges manage these sorts of difficult questions before considering the implications for academic and public understanding. There will be considerable opportunity for questions and discussion.

Brief Bio

Professor Stina Bergman Blix (Uppsala University) specialises in how people work with emotions in professional settings. She is co-author of Professional Emotions in Court which will be published in late 2018. Her previous book Rehearsing Emotions: Creating a Role for the Stage (2015) discusses her earlier research into how theatre actors inhabit their role.