Postprint version. Published in Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Volume 6, Issue 1, February 1, 2010, pages 75-104.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Amy Propen was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The definitive version is available at https://doi.org/10.1177/1743872109349104.
Emotional standards and hierarchies in the courtroom may affect judicial reactions to victim impact statements. Based on judicial conversations and courtroom observations in two judicial districts in Minnesota, we suggest that judges contrast emotion with reason in order to maintain control of their courtrooms; when faced with emotional expressions in victim impact statements, judges appreciate expressions of compassion and tolerate expressions of grief but are uncomfortable with expressions of anger. These judicial responses to emotional expression, however, must be contextualized; for example, the judges we spoke with often articulated different reactions to impact statements given by victims of sexual assault, those who are strangers to the perpetrator, and impact statements given by victims of domestic violence, those who are in a relationship with the perpetrator.
English Language and Literature
2010 Sage Publications.