Criminal Trials in Transitional Periods and the Challenge of Emotions: Stories from Two Countries
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais 88:155-184 (2010)
The paper seeks to analyse how two domestic courts decided criminal trials under circumstances of emotional mobilisation and political stress. Decisions from Argentina after 1983 and Romania after Ceausescu’s dictatorship illustrate how citizens’ affects influence courts’ choices within penal cases. Both cases show how the judiciary had to enter a dialogue with resentful and indignant claims for redress. However, while the Argentinean court filtered emotions through the strainer of equal respect and thus pushed the cause of democratic justice ahead, the Romanian case serves as a cautionary tale about how not to correct injustices through criminal law. These two cases provide us with important lessons about the obstacles, but also the opportunities associated with public emotions during periods of radical political transformation.
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