Doing Justice in the People's Court

Sentencing by Municipal Court Judges

By Jon'a Meyer & Paul Jesilow

Subjects: Corrections
Series: SUNY series in New Directions in Crime and Justice Studies
Paperback : 9780791431382, 164 pages, November 1996
Hardcover : 9780791431375, 164 pages, November 1996

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Table of contents



1. Municipal Courts and the Judges Who Sit in Them

2. Research on Bias in Judicial Sentencing

3. "Doing Justice": The Formation of Judicial Bias in Sentencing

4. The Process of Doing Justice: What the Defendants Did

5. The Process of Doing Justice: What the Judges Did

6. The Process of Doing Justice: Discussion and Conclusions





Presents research findings on city courts and their processing of misdemeanors, illuminating the conditions under which bias is maximized and minimized in the lower courts.

Jon'a Meyer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. Paul Jesilow is Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine.


"Through analyses of interviews and in-court observations, this work critically and effectively examines how the different ideologies of judges, the presence or absence of legal counsel for defendants, the use of interpreters for non-English-speaking defendants, and extra-legal factors such as race, class, and gender influence judicial decision making and sentencing practices at municipal court levels. " -- Hiroshi Fukurai, University of California, Santa Cruz

"I was impressed with the contextual approach. The authors appropriately situate the problem of sentencing bias in the context of processing and organizational variables, judicial philosophy, and extra-legal factors relating to the case. Some of the more important findings of the study include identification of mechanisms judges use to increase discretion--including suggestions by judges that defendants not plea bargain, and the finding that the major factor affecting incarceration is not race or ethnicity, but fluency in English.

"The book is a must for those in three separate constituencies of court research--sentencing practices, misdemeanors, and plea bargaining. " -- Donald F. Anspach, University of Southern Maine