Oñati Socio-Legal Series, Vol 1, No 1 (2011)

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Governance in Córdoba’s Mixed Tribunal: A Study on Microphysics of Power

Santiago Abel Amietta

Abstract


Córdoba is the first province of Argentina to adopt lay participation for the decision of criminal cases. Since 2005, a mixed tribunal of 8 lays and 3 judges decide some criminal cases by the rule of majority. Drawing on in-depth interviews with judges, other officials and jurors, this thesis explores this unique encounter of legal professionals and lays from the perspective of “microphysics of power” as put forward by Michel Foucault. The analysis first focuses on legal professionals’ perceptions of jurors and unveils how these perceptions construct jurors as a problem that needs to be governed. Secondly I discuss the tools of governance put into practice by legal professionals and the Judiciary to direct jurors’ conduct and argue that the interaction between lays and professionals is largely demarked by the mutual operation of power relations and knowledge. Next I look to jurors’ narratives to unravel their practices of self-governance and finally I trace the possibility of the emergence of resistant discourses by focusing on the narrative of a single juror. All in all this thesis constitutes an important departure from the previous body of work about lay participation in criminal justice by its theoretical approach and methodological advantages. It aims to make, by the theoretically informed analysis of relevant qualitative data, fruitful contributions both to the field of inquiries on jury trials and to more general discussions on how power in its myriad forms shapes subjectivities and governs conducts whilst circulates and is resisted against.

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