LAW & SOCIETY REVIEW
VOLUME 56 | NUMBER 2
Relief or removal: State logics of deservingness and masculinity for immigrant men in removal proceedings
In recent years, there has been an unprecedented rise in the number of immigrants facing removal from the United States, many of whom make a case for their right to be granted relief from removal and stay in the country. While immigrant men of color are disproportionately represented in both removal proceedings and contemporary sociopolitical constructions of immigrant criminalization, existing literature has largely overlooked the state’s cultural logics involved in decision-making about immigrant relief or removal. Drawing on theories of racialized masculinity and state gendering, I analyze how judges in immigration court utilize a politicized discourse of masculinity to justify legalization for immigrant men through their relational ties to US citizens. Using ethnographic observations of hearings for the Cancellation of Removal and the judicial decisions that support immigrant removal or relief, I develop a conceptual framework of “relational masculinity,” in which judges evaluate men as emotionally involved parents and partners in traditional family arrangements, raising culturally integrated Americans, and as economic providers of upward social mobility, to determine their deservingness for relief. These findings suggest that, alongside widespread gendered and racialized criminalization, the state also engages in an evaluation process to assess the masculinity of immigrant men who may be formally admitted into the United States. I argue that adherence to these gendered and racialized norms plays a key role in determining migrants’ deservingness and membership, with important implications for how the state actively manages immigrant masculinity and bolsters caregiving support for US citizens, alongside heightened criminalization.
Race, gender, and place: How judicial identity and local context shape anti-discrimination decisions
While federal anti-employment discrimination laws have helped diminish inequality at work, discrimination persists, in part perhaps due to unequal handling of equal employment lawsuits. Prior research demonstrates that the definition of discrimination can vary based on local normative ideas, while another line shows that a judge’s race or gender can shape how related lawsuits are handled. In this article, I draw on a set of EEOC workplace discrimination cases prosecuted in Federal Court and combine it with locality data, to analyze: (1) the impact of local context, specifically rurality, local political context, and southerness and; (2) how judges’ race and gender interact with the local cultural-milieu. Findings reveal that plaintiffs of colour in race discrimination cases fair worse in rural courts or before white judges. Meanwhile, white judges in conservative areas are more defendant friendly than those outside the in more liberal areas. Black judges, in comparison, are more plaintiff friendly in conservative areas when compared to black judges in more liberal areas. While female judges are generally more plaintiff friendly than male judges in sex cases, location has no discernible effect.
The focal concerns of jurors evaluating mitigation: Evidence from federal capital jury forms
Mary R. Rose, Meredith Martin Rountree
Mitigating evidence in capital trials provides reasons for a life, rather than death, sentence. Research suggests that mitigation challenges jurors. We contribute to this area by analyzing federal verdict forms in capital cases, which allow jurors to write in their own mitigating factors, providing a direct, rare window onto their mitigation considerations. We use 205 forms from 171 juries to examine the frequency and content of these “write-ins,” using a sentencing theory typically applied to judges, Focal Concerns Theory. We find that four of every 10 juries prompted to offer their own mitigation do so, producing 149 unique write-ins, the majority of which introduces mitigation topics that differ from those listed on the verdict form. Surprisingly, jurors are less likely to offer write-in mitigators in cases involving White defendants than others, even after controlling for support for other mitigating factors and for aggravating factors, which also predict write-ins. Jurors’ write-ins reflect a traditional sentencing concern for blameworthiness, and consistent with Focal Concerns Theory, attention to the practical consequences of punishment. Jurors also offered concerns we term “procedural fairness.” Results indicate that juries’ views are patterned in ways that are similar, but not identical, to judges’ sentencing concerns.
How parole boards judge remorse: Relational legal consciousness and the reproduction of carceral logic
Kathryne M. Young, Hannah Chimowitz
One in seven people in prison in the US is serving a life sentence, and most of these “lifers” will someday be eligible for discretionary parole. But little is known about a key aspect of parole decision-making: remorse assessments. Because remorse is a complex emotion that arises from past wrongdoing and unfolds over time, assessing the sincerity of another person’s remorse is neither a simple task of lie detection, nor of determining emotional authenticity. Instead, remorse involves numerous elements, including the relationship between a person’s past and present motivations, beliefs, and affective states. To understand how parole board members make sense of remorse, we draw on in-depth interviews with parole commissioners in California, the state with the largest proportion of parole-eligible lifers. We find that commissioners’ remorse assessments hinge on their perceptions of lifers’ relationships to law and carceral logic. In this way, relational legal consciousness—specifically, second-order legal consciousness—functions as a stand-in for the impossible task of knowing another person’s heart or mind. We distinguish relational from second-order legal consciousness and argue that understanding how they operate at parole hearings reveals the larger import of relational legal consciousness as a mechanism via which existing power relations are produced and reproduced, bridging the legal consciousness and law and emotion literatures.
“[Y]ou are better off talking to a f****** wall”: The perceptions and experiences of grievance procedures among incarcerated people in Ireland
Sophie van der Valk, Eva Aizpurua, Mary Rogan
The ways in which grievance procedures are used and perceived by incarcerated people raise important questions about the operation of procedural justice and legal consciousness and mobilization scholarship in settings where rights are especially vulnerable. This paper analyzes perceptions and usage of the grievance procedure for incarcerated people using survey data from people (N = 508) in three prisons in Ireland. We find that incarcerated people’s views of the grievance procedures are generally negative, though some use it, especially those serving long sentences and those in segregation, with education level not significant in terms of usage. Additionally, having confidence in staff is associated with satisfaction with the procedure, as is the perception that one’s rights are respected, showing important connections between perceptions of complaints and aspects of legal consciousness. We suggest a need for further situated analyses of procedural justice and legal consciousness, as well as practical requirements for complaints systems to elicit confidence among incarcerated people.
Beyond litigation: Policy work within cause lawyering organizations
David L. Trowbridge
This article investigates why cause lawyering organizations choose policy work and how policy agendas are set. Interviews and documents from eight legal organizations in the LGBTQ movement reveal that policy work expands the scope of conflict, giving organizations not only more opportunities to act, but potentially providing greater autonomy to lawyers by allowing them to build their own opportunities. Furthermore, policy agendas are not simply tied to litigation and resources. Organizations balance perceptions of opportunity and need with resource availability. These perceptions are often informed by collaborations with state and local organizations, facilitating communication between groups, organizers, and activists at different vantage points. Thus, the nature of a legal organization’s multidimensional strategy, which expands opportunities to reach their goals, may be shaping what those goals are. These findings contribute to our understanding of cause lawyering tactics and agendas.
Crossing: How we label and react to people on the move. By Hamlin, Rebecca. Stanford University Press, 2021. 224 pp. $25.00 paperback
Identity capitalists: The powerful insiders who exploit diversity to maintain inequality. By Leong, Nancy. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2021. 240 pp. $28.00 paperback
Meera E. Deo
Sorting sexuality: Expertise and the politics of legal classification. By Vogler, Stefan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021. 280 pp. $30.00 paper
Industry unbound: The inside story of privacy, data, and corporate power. By Ezra, Ari Waldman Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. 364 pp. $24.95 hardback
Erika M. Douglas
The behavioral code: The hidden ways the law makes us better or worse. By Rooij, Benjamin and Fine, Adam. New York: Beacon Press, 2021. 312 pp. $27.95 hardcover
Conviction: The making and unmaking of the violent brain. By Rollins, Oliver. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2021. 248 pp. $25.00 paperback
Ernest K. Chavez
Living apart together: Legal protections for a new form of family. By Bowman, Cynthia Grant. New York: New York University Press, 2020. 312 pp. $40.00 hardcover
Kaiponanea T. Matsumura
Privilege and punishment: How race and class matter in criminal court. By Clair, Matthew. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2020. 320 pp. $19.95 paperback
Malcolm M. Feeley