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The Irish District Court

A Social Portrait

by Caroline O'Nolan

Publication Year: 2013

This book is about the Irish District Court which is a key linchpin in the Irish criminal justice system: the District Court is the court in which all persons charged with criminal offences are initially processed and, despite its limited jurisdiction, it accounts for the majority of committals to Irish prisons. The book presents courtroom based research which unveils the largely hidden decisions and processes of the District Court while also providing valuable insights into Irish policing priorities and practices. The numerous extracts of court proceedings which are interspersed throughout this book provide a detailed and nuanced picture of courtroom actors and courtroom practices and ensure readers acquire an in depth understanding of sentencing decisions and practices. The book describes the increased presence of foreign defendants in the District Court and considers how this local court has adapted to deal with global citizens. The account presented illustrates that while penal institutions and practices are fashioned to fit the fabric of local societies, in the current era of movement and flux these institutions and practices are also shaped by exogenous forces such as migration, increased mobility and transnational crime.

Published by: Cork University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-12

It was late in the afternoon when Bridget Murphy1 was brought into court from the custody cells. The late hour seemed to have taken a toll on Judge Murray. He is normally genial and courteous but in the previous hour he had lobbed several terse comments at a number of solicitors whom he considered were wasting the court’s time ...

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Chapter 1 - Anatomy of a Workhorse: The Irish District Court

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pp. 13-50

Courts are organised in a hierarchical structure with jurisdiction determining the tier or rank of a court. Lower-tier courts are courts of limited and local jurisdiction. The decisions of lower-tier courts can be appealed to superior courts. In short, lower-tier criminal courts dispose of minor offences, are constrained in the penalties they can impose, ...

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Chapter 2 - Ordinary Crimes and Ordinary Criminals: District Court Defendant

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pp. 51-72

In 2010, the Irish District Court disposed of 428,472 (2009, 451,280; 2008, 482,203) summary offences and 70,200 (2009, 69,778; 2008, 68,491) indictable offences summarily (CS, 2011:62; 2010:56; 2009:64). The volume and varied nature of the cases dealt with by the District Court ensures that defendants from all sections of society appear before the court. ...

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Chapter 3 - The Punishment of Minor Offences: Sentencing in the District Court

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pp. 73-113

The sentencing decisions reached in our criminal courts can have a significant impact on the lives of individual offenders, and on victims of crime, while also being of significant import to the wider Irish society. From the perspective of individual offenders, a criminal conviction can derail career plans or result in the loss of employment; ...

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Chapter 4 - Immigration Offences

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pp. 114-146

Immigration legislation is, for the most part, introduced to regulate the movement and right to work of non-citizens. When immigration legislation provides for criminal sanctions, the immigrant population is more likely than the native population to have greater contact with the criminal justice system. Immigrants are more likely to be stopped by the police, ...

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Chapter 5 - LEP Defendants and Interpretation Services

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pp. 147-166

Foreign nationals now regularly appear before Irish courts charged with criminal offences, and many need the assistance of an interpreter to ensure that they fully understand the court proceedings. As the number of foreign defendants has increased, the presence of court interpreters in Irish courts has changed from being almost an exotic oddity to becoming quotidian and unremarkable. ...

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Chapter 6 - Conclusion

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pp. 167-186

This book focuses on the lowest tier of the Irish criminal court system, the Irish District Court, and in doing so provides not only a detailed account of the work of the court but valuable insights regarding the wider Irish criminal justice system. The book draws on courtroom-based research for which the primary research subjects were non-Irish/non-UK District Court defendants ...

Appendix: Research Methodology

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pp. 187-204


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pp. 205-222

Notes and References

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pp. 223-230


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pp. 231-234

Back Cover

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p. 250-250

E-ISBN-13: 9781782050513
E-ISBN-10: 1782050515
Print-ISBN-13: 9781782050483
Print-ISBN-10: 1782050485

Publication Year: 2013