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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: August 2019

3 - The District Courts

from Part I - Continuity and Change in the General Court System


This chapter determines the extent to which Daniel S. Lev’s academic legacy remains relevant in the District Courts of greater Jakarta during Indonesia’s ‘Reform’ (reformasi) era from 1998 onwards. In other words, is modern Jakarta District Court ‘culture’ recognisable from Lev’s early works, authored during the Sukarno and Suharto eras? The regency or municipality-level District Courts (pengadilan negeri) try both civil and criminal cases across the Indonesian archipelago. However, this chapter’s case study focuses exclusively on sentencing decisions in criminal cases at first instance, which tend to dominate the case dockets of the District Courts. Criminal punishment, as a subject attracting strong views and even cultural fascination, and unconstrained in Indonesia’s predominantly civil law criminal justice system by formal case law precedents or sentencing guidelines, forms an ideal vehicle through which to analyse a jurisdiction’s ‘internal’ legal culture, as it manifests here in the attitudes and customs of judges. In brief, this chapter’s findings on Lev’s continuing influence are mixed: some of Lev’s earlier observations mirror the current attitudes and behaviours of greater Jakarta District Court judges in criminal cases, yet other observations are either no longer relevant after reformasi, or at the very least, may not be relevant at the District Court level or within greater Jakarta as a geographical region and cultural space.