Analysing courthouses’ spaces, places and architecture: Some methodological outlines

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl.1692

Keywords:

Courthouse buildings, visits to courts, photo tour, field diary, Edificios de juzgados, visitas a juzgados, tour fotográfico, diario de campo

Abstract

The aim of this article is to retrospectively reflect on my experiences conducting research on the intersections between courthouse architecture and access to justice in family and children's matters. This raises methodological and practical issues motivated by the novelty of the theme, as was the case when I began my doctoral research approximately 13 years ago, in Portugal. Therefore, I will discuss the strategies adopted and the instruments I used within a qualitative methodology framework. I will particularly focus on the following methods: 1. visiting courthouse buildings, in order to examine, among other elements, localities, façades, courtrooms and other areas and spaces; 2. photographing the different angles/spaces, and 3. writing down a field diary with all my observations of the trips, visits, and encounters. This article traces the early preparations for selecting the courts to visit, how I got to the selected courts, what it was like visiting and photographing such buildings, and some of the difficulties I encountered. In the concluding section, with the benefit of hindsight, I offer reflections on what I would have done differently.

El objetivo de este artículo es reflexionar retrospectivamente sobre mis experiencias en la realización de investigaciones sobre las intersecciones entre la arquitectura de los tribunales y el acceso a la justicia en asuntos de familia y menores. Esto plantea cuestiones metodológicas y prácticas motivadas por la novedad del tema, como era el caso cuando comencé mi investigación doctoral hace aproximadamente 13 años, en Portugal. Por lo tanto, discutiré las estrategias adoptadas y los instrumentos que utilicé en el marco de una metodología cualitativa. Me centraré especialmente en los siguientes métodos: 1. visitar los edificios de los juzgados, para examinar, entre otros elementos, los locales, las fachadas, las salas de vistas y otras áreas y espacios; 2. fotografiar los diferentes ángulos/espacios, y 3. escribir un diario de campo con todas mis observaciones de los viajes, visitas y encuentros. Este artículo relata los primeros preparativos para seleccionar los tribunales que iba a visitar, cómo llegué a los tribunales elegidos, cómo fue visitar y fotografiar tales edificios y algunas de las dificultades que encontré. En la sección final, con la perspectiva que da la experiencia, reflexiono sobre lo que habría hecho de otra manera.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

        Metrics

Views 240
Downloads:
13(S1)_Branco_OSLS 142
XML_13(S1)_Branco_OSLS 24


Author Biography

Patrícia Branco, CES-UC

Patrícia Branco is a researcher at CES-UC, integrating the Thematic Line 2 - Democracy, Justice and Human Rights. She is a researcher hired under the Scientific Employment Stimulus Program (CEECIND / 00126/2017), with the research projet «FORK. Food, Regulation, Kinship: considerations on contemporary law, families and parenthood through the lenses of food». She holds a PhD in Sociology of Law, within the scope of the "Law, Justice and Citizenship in the 21st century" program, from the University of Coimbra.

References

Bens, J., and Vetters, L., 2018. Ethnographic legal studies: reconnecting anthropological and sociological traditions. The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law [online], 50(3), 239-254. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07329113.2018.1559487

Branco, P., 2015. Análise da arquitetura judiciária portuguesa: as dimensões de reconhecimento, funcionalidade e acesso à justiça. e-cadernos ces [online], 23, 93 122. Available at: https://journals.openedition.org/eces/1930

Branco, P., 2016. Courthouses as Spaces of Recognition, Functionality and Access to Law and Justice: A Portuguese Reflection. Oñati Socio-Legal Series [online], 6(3), 426-441. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/497

Branco, P., 2018. Considering a different model for the Family and Children Courthouse Building. Reflections on the Portuguese experience. Oñati Socio-Legal Series [online], 8(3), 400-418. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/907

Branco, P., Robson, P., and Rodger, J., 2019, Court architecture and the justice system. In: S.M. Sterett and L.D. Walker, eds., Research Handbook on Law and Courts. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 158-172.

Brigham, J., 2009. Material Law: A Jurisprudence of What’s Real. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Carmo, R., 2014. A Nova Organização do Sistema Judiciário e a Jurisdição de Família e Menores. Revista do Ministério Público, 140, 9-32.

Cleland, J., and MacLeod, A., 2021. The visual vernacular: embracing photographs in research. Perspectives on Medical Education, 10, 230-237.

Cox, A., and Benson, M., 2017. Visual methods and quality in information behaviour research: the cases of photovoice and mental mapping. Information Research, 22(2).

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P., 2011. Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1), Art. 10.

European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), 2014. Guidelines on the organization and accessibility of court premises [online]. Document adopted by the CEPEJ at its 24th Plenary Meeting. Strasbourg, 11-12 December. Available at: https://rm.coe.int/16807482cb

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), 2015.Child-friendly justice – Perspectives and experiences of professionals on children’s participation in civil and criminal judicial proceedings in 10 EU Member States. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union.

Faria, C., et al., 2020. Embodied Exhibits: Toward a Feminist Geographic Courtroom Ethnography. Annals of the American Association of Geographers[online], 110(4), 1095-1113. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/24694452.2019.1680233?journalCode=raag21

Garapon, A., 2001. Bien juger. Essai sur le rituel judiciaire. Paris: Odile Jacob.

Goltsman, S., 1992. Recognizing children and families in the design of a children’s court. Children’s Environments, 9(1), 72-76.

Goodrich, P., 2008. Visive powers: colours, trees and genres of jurisdiction. Law and Humanities[online],2(2), 213-231. Available at:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263370239_Visive_Powers_Colours_Trees_and_Genres_of_Jurisdiction

Gregory, E., 2022. Justice and Representation within the limits of Contemporary Photography. In: x. burrough and J. Walgren, eds., Art as Social Practice. New York/London, Routledge, 307-317.

Hoffman, D.A., and Strezhnev, A., 2022. Longer Trips to Court Cause Evictions. PNAS (2022), U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 22-29[online]. Available at: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4130696#:~:text=A%20one%20hour%20increase%20in,and%20even%20weekend%20travel%20time.

Jacob, R., 1994. Images de la justice. Paris: Le Léopard d’Or.

Justiça, 2018. Plano Estratégico Plurianual de Requalificação e Modernização da Rede de Tribunais. 2018 – 2028 [online]. May. Government of Portugal. Available at: https://www.portugal.gov.pt/download-ficheiros/ficheiro.aspx?v=%3D%3DBAAAAB%2BLCAAAAAAABAAzNbOwBABees2OBAAAAA%3D%3D

Latour, B., 2002. La fabrique du droit. Une ethnographie du Conseil d’État. Paris: La Découverte.

Maass, A., et al., 2000. Intimidating Buildings: Can Courthouse Architecture Affect Perceived Likelihood of Conviction? Environment and Behavior, 32(5), 674–683.

Marrani, D., 2011. Rituel(s) de Justice. Essai Anthropologique sur la Relation du Temps et de l’Espace dans le Procès. Brussels: E.M.E.

Moran, L. J., 2012. Visual Justice. International Journal of Law in Context, 8(3), 431-46.

Mulcahy, L., 2007. Architects of justice: the politics of courtroom design. Social and Legal Studies, 16(3), 383-403.

Mulcahy, L., 2011. Legal Architecture. Justice, due process and the place of law. London: Routledge.

Ngwa-Suh, M., 2006. Facility Facelifts: How Courthouses Are Accommodating Children and Youth. Children’s Voice, 15(1), 29-31.

Norman, W.R., 1991. Photography as a research tool. Visual Anthropology, 4(2), 193-216.

Resnik, J., and Curtis, D., 2011. Representing Justice. Invention, Controversy, and Rights in City-States and Democratic Courtrooms. New Haven/London: Yale University Press.

Sarre, R., and Vernon, A., 2013. Access to Safe Justice in Australian Court: Some reflections upon Intelligence, Design and Process. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 2(2), 133-147.

Schwartz, D., 1989. Visual Ethnography: using photography in qualitative research. Qualitative Sociology[online], 12(2), 119-154. Available at: http://isaacleung.com/culs/5412/readings/R8_Schwartz_VisualEthnography_Photography.pdf

Tait, D., 2004. Remote and Intimate Justice: challenges and paradoxes for courts of the future. Paper presented at the 2004 Australasian Law Reform Agencies Conference, Wellington, 16 April 2004.

Travers, M., 2021. Court Ethnographies. In: S. M. Bucerius, K.D. Haggerty, and L. Berardi, eds., The Oxford Handbook of Ethnographies of Crime and Criminal Justice. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190904500.013.25

Walenta, J., 2020. Courtroom Ethnography: researching the intersection of law, space, and every day practices. The Professional Geographer[online],72(1), 131-138. Available at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00330124.2019.1622427?journalCode=rtpg20

Published

06-07-2023 — Updated on 20-12-2023

How to Cite

Branco, . P. (2023) “Analysing courthouses’ spaces, places and architecture: Some methodological outlines”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 13(S1), pp. S278-S298. doi: 10.35295/osls.iisl.1692.