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Who Said Anything About Justice? Bail Court and the Culture of Adjournment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 February 2015

Nicole Marie Myers*
School of Criminology Simon Fraser


The criminal court is supposed to be a place of adversarial justice; however, these formal legal values do not appear to translate into practice. The courtroom workgroup, though made up of formal adversaries with widely divergent roles and objectives, is a community of workers whose shared interests include getting through the day as quickly and efficiently as possible. Using data from 142 days of bail court observation in Ontario the author argues that a “culture of adjournment” has taken over the bail process. Rather than the court being run by an efficient adversarial group of people processing criminal cases through the system, the courtroom has developed a culture that emphasizes the importance of expeditiously disposing of the daily docket over distributing justice.


Le tribunal pénal est censé être un lieu judiciaire de nature accusatoire. Toutefois, ces valeurs juridiques formelles ne semblent pas se traduire dans la pratique. Le groupe de travail d’une salle d'audience, bien que composé d'adversaires formels ayant des rôles et des objectifs divergents, représente une communauté de travailleurs dont les intérêts communs incluent passer à travers la journée aussi rapidement et efficacement que possible. Se fondant sur les données de 142 jours d’audiences sur le cautionnement en Ontario, l'auteure soutient qu’une « culture de l'ajournement » domine le processus de libération sous caution. Plutôt que d’avoir un tribunal dirigé par un groupe efficace de personnes opposées procédant au traitement des affaires pénales, la salle d'audience fonctionne sur la base d’une culture qui met l'accent non sur l’exercice de la justice mais sur l'importance de disposer rapidement du plumitif journalier.

Copyright © Canadian Law and Society Association / Association Canadienne Droit et Société 2015 

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