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Between May and July 2003, a shift in how the US public viewed the legality of consensual homosexual sex occurred. While in May the largest percentage of respondents to date supported decriminalizing such activity, that percentage dropped eleven points two months later. Similar declines in support were evident in the same period over a range of gay and lesbian rights claims. The ruling in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) decriminalizing homosexual sex is the obvious intervening event. To explain this pattern, coding of print and televised news coverage of the ruling throughout 2003 was undertaken. Coverage was not overtly negative in terms of antigay rhetoric or hostility toward the judiciary; rather, the dominant media frame focused on the implications of Lawrence for an entirely separate rights issue: marriage equality. This article examines the dynamic of frame “spillover,” or the idea that media focus on a distinct and not widely supported rights claim in a multifaceted rights agenda might depress support across the entire rights agenda. The findings call for further research, and they have implications for scholarship on public opinion, social movement framing, and ideational development and policy debate as studied within the broader field of American political development.
This study analyzes the transformation of legal consciousness associated with the process of globalization. It examines changing conceptions of injury and compensation in northern Thailand, where global economic and cultural flows have had a dramatic impact over the past twenty years. In their “injury narratives,” ordinary Thai people describe the harm they have suffered, the causes they identify, the issues of responsibility with which they struggle, the obligations and remedy systems they consider relevant, and the role of law as they perceive it. These accounts, as well as litigation records from the Chiangmai Provincial Court, suggest that a transformation of Thai legal consciousness has indeed occurred, but not in the direction one might have expected. Rather than embracing liberal legalism or conceptualizing their grievances in terms of rights, injury victims in post-globalization Thailand are now less inclined to perceive their experiences in legal terms and more inclined to rely on a new form of religious discourse in which Buddhist precepts justify the injured person's decision to refrain from the pursuit of compensation. This article offers an explanation of why globalization appears to have pushed legal consciousness in the direction of religiosity rather than rights.
Recent Supreme Court decisions dealing with advertising by lawyers have focused new attention on the question whether lawyers perform services that are standardized or susceptible of standardization. The author examines the concept of standardization as applied to lawyers’ services and suggests five indicators that might reveal the extent to which such services are or could become standardized. He also discusses bow advertising could accelerate the standardization of lawyers’ services and briefly raises questions about what this will mean to lawyers and the public.
This article explores the role of a local trial court in terms of the plurality of legal systems—both formal and informal—found in the community in which the court operates. The concept of legal pluralism in American society is examined, and a comparison is made between the study of plural normative systems and the study of disputes and dispute processing. Two examples of legal pluralism drawn from an empirical study of a midwestern community are presented: the first exploring oral contractual agreements among farmers and the second examining formal and informal norms concerning divorce. The application of this form of analysis is found to reveal important distinctions between the manifest and latent functions that the trial court performs in its community setting.
This article provides an overview of an empirical study of a civil trial court and the environment of indigenous law and conflict resolution in which the court operates. The article combines an analysis of civil cases and litigants with an investigation of alternative nonjudicial approaches used by residents of the community. The first section of the article examines the emergence of legal conflicts from the fabric of social relationships in the community and compares cases and parties in the court with those that gravitate toward nonjudicial settings. The second section compares processes and outcomes available in the court with those that may be obtained nonjudicially. The article concludes that different categories of cases emerge from different kinds of social relationships and for this reason are associated with fundamentally dissimilar patterns of values, norms, procedures, and outcomes. It also emphasizes the benefits to be obtained from investigating the complex relationships and interchanges that link local level trial courts to their communities.
It is not an exaggeration to say that we live in an era preoccupied with the problems and challenges of obtaining justice in civil cases. Concerns expressed about the civil justice system range from warnings that civil court dockets are clogged by disputants too litigious for their own good to complaints that the legal system is used too rarely in civil cases.
The authors approach their analysis with a sense that this subject area is in need of more and better theory. It is an unfortunate fact that discussions of civil justice—and suggestions for reform—have been marked by contradiction and confusion and have been engrossed with small matters that tend to obscure from view the system as a whole.
The first part of this essay focuses on what the civil justice system is and does. It presents a five-stage model of civil case processing and examines relationships between this model and the criminal justice system. The second part of the essay considers this model in a broader context. Here the authors examine two paradigms of civil case processing and their implications for the implementation of legal norms and the pursuit of justice in society.
This paper examines the marine reservoir effect for Tomales Bay, a 25.5-km-long tidal estuary along the northern coast of California. We determined the regional ∆R through radiocarbon (14C) measurements of pre-1950 shells from a museum collection as well as archaeologically recovered shell samples from a historical railroad grade of known construction date. These results are compared against four sets of paired shell and bone samples from two local archaeological sites. Our results indicate little spatial variation along the inner bay, but the proposed ∆R value is lower than those previously reported for nearby areas along the Pacific Coast. We also note potential variability in regional ∆R of approximately 200 14C years for the late Holocene, and comparison with an older paired bone and shell sample points toward more significant temporal variation earlier in time.
This book addresses some of the most difficult and important debates over injury and law now taking place in societies around the world. The essays tackle the inescapable experience of injury and its implications for social inequality in different cultural settings. Topics include the tension between physical and reputational injuries, the construction of human injuries versus injuries to non-human life, virtual injuries, the normalization and infliction of injuries on vulnerable victims, the question of reparations for slavery, and the paradoxical degradation of victims through legal actions meant to compensate them for their disabilities. Authors include social theorists, social scientists and legal scholars, and the subject matter extends to the Middle East and Asia, as well as North America.