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Learning to Judge: An Empirical Study of Judicial Attitudes to Training and Sentencing in Romania

Richards, Diana Andreea; (2018) Learning to Judge: An Empirical Study of Judicial Attitudes to Training and Sentencing in Romania. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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There has been extensive research on how adults learn and how their learning needs and expectations change as they are exposed to practice, but these developmental learning theories have never been empirically tested with judges. Moreover, while empirical judicial studies have made progress in understanding judicial attitudes to decision-making, including in relation to sentencing, no previous research has examined whether those attitudes might change as judges gain more experience and training. This empirical study of judicial experiences and attitudes to judicial training connects these separate disciplines and explores the extent to which judges are in a continuous learning cycle throughout their training and career. The thesis aims to empirically test two main hypotheses: (1) Judges’ approach to judicial training and preference for training methods will vary with experience. (2) Judges at different levels of experience will have different informal learning preferences and will approach sentencing practice differently. To test these hypotheses, a survey was conducted with 226 judges in Romania, encompassing the 3 key groups of judges undertaking training in Romania: newly appointed trainees (with no legal practice experience), newly appointed judges (with legal practice experience) and experienced judges undertaking continuous training. The thesis was therefore able to compare:  attitudes of experienced and inexperienced judges;  attitudes of newly appointed judges without legal experience (typical of civil law judiciaries) with newly appointed judges with legal experience (typical of common law judiciaries). Key findings include:  Judges’ attitudes vary with experience, both towards their training needs as well as towards sentencing practices.  Judges’ preferences for certain training methods cluster together, suggesting that different judges have different learning styles. This thesis helps to validate developmental learning theories for the first time in relation to judges, and also provides some practical insights that might help shape future judicial training across jurisdictions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Learning to Judge: An Empirical Study of Judicial Attitudes to Training and Sentencing in Romania
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Laws
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10048330
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