Sunday, October 14, 2012

Images of Justice. Judge Pierre Cavellat and the Drawings of courtroom scenes


Ruth Herz
The Art of Justice: The Judge's Perspective
Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2012, 128 pp.
ISBN-13: 978-1849461276


This book presents a unique and intriguing collection of drawings of courtroom scenes. Entering the courtroom wearing his robe, Judge Pierre Cavellat literally had a secret up his sleeve. Hidden in it were pens and pencils which he used to sketch the scenes he observed from his bench during a trial. Throughout a 40 year judicial career in one of France's more important regional appellate courts, Cavellat produced hundreds of revealing drawings and paintings of court scenes, depicting the proceedings, as well as the main actors: the prosecutors, defense counsels, his fellow judges, the defendants, witnesses, policemen, the general public, as well as the courtroom itself and its architecture. The resulting vivid and uncensored impressions give an unprecedented insight into how a judge perceives his profession and the institution of justice as a whole. Given the scarcity of written autobiographies by judges, as well as their reticence to expose their inner feelings and thinking, the images reveal, in a candid and immediate fashion, the deeply hidden emotions, ambiguities, and fantasies of a judge going about his work. The author, a judge herself, interprets the images through the lens of her own judicial experience, exploring how judges think and act and how their thinking is constructed through their education, professional training, gender, and class. In doing so, she exposes how personal background, history, and experience play an additional, sometimes conflicting, role in 'judgecraft.' While relevant to both practitioners and students of law, this book should also have an appeal to a wider public that seeks an insight into the world of the court.

Ruth Herz studied law at the Universities of Geneva and Munich, doctorate of law from Cologne University. Former judge at the Court of Cologne (1974-2006). She taught Criminology at the University of Toronto, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. From 2006-10 she was an Associate Researcher at the Centre for Criminology of the University of Oxford, and visiting fellow at Princeton University. She introduced the 'victim offender mediation and reparation' as an alternative sanction for juvenile offenders to the German legal system for which she received the Medal of Merit of the State in 1998. From 2001-2005 she played the part of the judge in a daily court series on German television. Is currently a visiting professor at Birkbeck College, University of London (2006-2010).


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Se trata, sin duda, de un testimonio ciertamente interesante acerca de la visión del proceso ´’desde dentro’ a partir de la percepción del mismo desde una posición privilegiada, esto es, la de un juez. Sugestiva, asimismo, la interpretación que de las imágenes nos ofrece la autora, igualmente implicada durante una parte importante de su actividad profesionales en las tareas jurisdiccionales.
J.C.G.

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