Leaving Emotion Out: Litigants in Person and Emotion in New Zealand Civil Courts

Authors

  • Bridgette Toy-Cronin University of Otago, New Zealand

Keywords:

Emotion, judging, litigants in person, self-represented litigants, civil justice, Emociones, juzgar, litigantes en persona, litigantes autorrepresentados, justicia civil

Abstract

Litigants in person (LiPs) receive the message that emotion should be “left out” of New Zealand courtrooms. This is a confusing and impossible goal. This paper draws on two empirical studies and argues that the exhortation to leave emotion out is multi-layered, referring to behaving and thinking like a lawyer, including a focus on the commercial or transactional elements of disputes, rather than on other aspects that are important to litigants. This is often not possible for LiPs and it can reduce their sense of procedural justice and result in the omission of legally relevant material. Judges can respond to LiPs who violate the emotion regime by allowing LiPs to explain aspects of the dispute that are salient to them. We need to consider how the civil courts can allow more space for litigants to tell stories, rather than focusing only on the commercial or transactional aspects of disputes.

Los litigantes autorrepresentados de Nueva Zelanda reciben el mensaje de que las emociones deben “quedarse fuera” del juzgado. Se trata de un objetivo imposible de lograr. Utilizando material de dos estudios empíricos, este artículo argumenta que la exhortación a desprenderse de las emociones tiene muchas capas, referidas a comportarse y pensar como un abogado, incluyendo la atención dada a los elementos comerciales o transaccionales de una disputa más que a otros aspectos importantes para los litigantes. Las partes que se representan a sí mismas no pueden cumplir ese mandato, y su sentido de justicia procedimental puede verse reducida y resultar en la omisión de material jurídicamente relevante. Los jueces pueden permitir a los autorrepresentados explicar aspectos de la disputa que les parecen destacables. Debemos considerar cómo los juzgados de lo civil pueden dejar que los litigantes cuenten historias en lugar de centrarse sólo en los aspectos comerciales o transaccionales.

Available from:
https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1034

Author Biography

Bridgette Toy-Cronin, University of Otago, New Zealand

Director of the University of Otago Legal Issues Centre and a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Otago, New Zealand.

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Published

19-10-2018

How to Cite

Toy-Cronin, B. (2018) “Leaving Emotion Out: Litigants in Person and Emotion in New Zealand Civil Courts”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 9(5), pp. 684–701. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/1071 (Accessed: 5 December 2021).

Issue

Section

Tensions of the Dispassionate Ideal