Rural Magistrates and Domestic Violence: An Exploratory Study of How Magistrate Attitudes Affect Judicial Decision Making

Sarah J. McLean, University at Albany

Little is known about judicial decision making and attitudes surroundng the handling of misdemeanor domestic violence cases. Given that magistrates play a key role in the handling of such cases and implementing current reforms, it is critical to better understand attitudes and other factors that contribute to their decision making. This paper reports the preliminary findings from a qualitative study based on face to face interviews with rural magistrates in upstate New York. The paper will explore magistrate attitudes surroundng the cause of domestic violence and the courts' role in handling such cases. The study will examine what factors and attitudes influence judicial decision making. The study is supported by the Department of Criminal Justice Services in New York State.

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Updated 05/20/2006