Magistrates' decision-making: personality, process and outcome

PhD thesis

Ormerod, P. 2006. Magistrates' decision-making: personality, process and outcome. PhD thesis Middlesex University School of Health and Social Sciences
TypePhD thesis
TitleMagistrates' decision-making: personality, process and outcome
AuthorsOrmerod, P.

The thesis examined personality and socio-demographic characteristics of individuals and their relationship to the way in which magistrates approach the sentencing of offenders and the choices they make. It was based on a review of the theoretical approaches to models of decision-making and the concept of individual differences. A pluralistic methodology was adopted combining a quasi-experimental approach in the first study, with two further qualitative studies. Study 1 reported the profile data for the participants, all practising magistrates, and their responses to case study vignettes. Study 2 considered participants' perception of the sentencing process and the factors that influenced their decisions using an interpretative phenomenological approach, while Study 3 applied content and discourse analysis to transcripts of a sentencing training exercise in which magistrates had participated. Analyses of the first study were mostly correlational. Modest associations between Locus of Control and Legal Authoriarianism with severity of sentence were demonstrated and also small gender differences in sentencing choice. The study concluded that there was no support for hypotheses linking other personality trait measurements with the severity of sentence or the approach adopted, using an algebraic model to represent the process. In the subsequent studies, evidence emerged to suggest a more holistic approach to sentencing, guided by advice on structured decision-making, while accommodating the influences of probation service reports, diverse sentencing aims and the advice of the legal professionals. The impact of group interactions was also apparent. This varied with individual characteristics and acquired competences necessary for satisfactory appraisal. The interpretation of 'roles' on a sentencing Bench and their potential effects on the process and outcome of sentencing was observed.

Department nameSchool of Health and Social Sciences
Institution nameMiddlesex University
Publication dates
Print07 Aug 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited07 Aug 2014
Output statusPublished
Accepted author manuscript
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