Associate Professor Tracey Booth joined the Faculty of Law in June 2007. Currently she plays an active role in researcher development and is responsible for training law students undertaking a higher degree by research.
Tracey is a highly regarded inter-disciplinary researcher both nationally and internationally, and her work crosses criminology, psychology, sociology, and law.The major focus of Tracey's research is the ramifications of the prominence of crime victims in contemporary criminal justice policy for legal processes and laws and her work aims to inform the role of victims in legal procedures such as sentencing and bail. As a socio-legal scholar, she has developed a legal ethnographic approach that seeks to build on theory and legal doctrine with empirical insights in order to create an evidence-base for the development of policy and law reform. Her groundbreaking article "Cooling out victims of crime: Managing victim participation in the sentencing process in a superior sentencing court" won the 2013 Allen Austin Bartholomew Award for the best article in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology. More recently, she is the author of Accommodating Justice: Victim Impact Statements in the Sentencing Process (The Federation Press, 2016).
Since 2014, Tracey has been a member of the NSW Sentencing Council. The Sentencing Council advises the NSW Attorney-General on sentencing matters and other matters that may be referred to it from time to time. http://www.sentencingcouncil.justice.nsw.gov.au/
(2014) Finalist - UTS Vice Chancellor's Research Excellence Award - Researcher Development
(2013) Allen Austin Bartholomew Award for the best article published in volume 45 (2012) of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology.
(2011) Faculty of Law, Lyndal Taylor Teaching Award
NSW Sentencing Council
Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology
World Society of Victimology
(2006) Visiting Scholar, Centre for Sentencing Research, University of Strathclyde
Can supervise: YES
- Victim participation in the sentencing hearing Download research poster
- Victim participation in parole decision-making processes;
- Aspects of criminal procedure including: bail, the concept of fairness, the right to silence, judge-only trials, and morality;
- Legal education.
Current Research Projects
Analysis of 2014 legislative amendments to Criminal (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) that allow sentencing courts to take account of victim impact statements from family victims into account in the determination of penalty for homicide offenders.
- Foundations of Law
- Postgraduate legal research
- Higher degree by research
Accommodating Justice explores the complex territory where victim impact statements (VISs), the law and legal institutions intersect with a focus on the requirements of justice, most particularly in the courtroom. And it does so from multiple perspectives: courts, offenders and victims. The book draws from a range of theoretical and doctrinal sources as well as empirical studies from Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. An ethnographic study of the performance of VISs in homicide sentencing hearings in the NSW Supreme Court woven through most chapters provides an innovative and evidence-based approach to the issues.
Enquiries and research reveal that many victims of family violence who are personally cross- examined by the alleged perpetrator of that violence in family law proceedings find the process traumatising and intimidating. Not only can such processes generate unsafe and unfair outcomes but also they are unlikely to produce the high quality evidence required by the court. In deference to the emotional wellbeing and vulnerability of these victims, a number of measures for receiving such evidence are available to Australian Family Court judges. However, currently these are all discretionary powers and anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of these tools is unpredictable and dependent on the individual judge. In the absence of empirical evidence, this paper aims to open up potential emotional dimensions of judicial decision-making in this context with a view to exploring these theoretical ideas in later empirical work.
Booth, T, Kaye, M & Wangmann, J 2019, 'Family Violence, Cross-Examination and Self-Represented Parties in the Courtroom: The Differences, Gaps and Deficiencies', The University of New South Wales law journal, vol. 42, no. 3, pp. 1106-1142.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Since the early 2000s, the ability of a self-represented litigant (SRL) alleged to have used domestic and family violence including sexual violence to personally cross-examine the alleged victim of that violence has been steadily restricted or prohibited across the Australian jurisdictions. These statutory limitations recognise the traumatic and negative impact such personal cross-examination can have on the alleged victim. All Australian jurisdictions restrict such personal cross-examination in sexual offence proceedings. Many jurisdictions also impose similar limitations in proceedings for other domestic and family violence related criminal proceedings and civil protection order proceedings. This article reveals a marked unevenness in protection for alleged victims however both across and within jurisdictions. The lack of consistency in approach and lack of uniformity in provisions across the jurisdictions means that not all victims of domestic and family violence are protected, and for those who are, the nature and extent of those protections differ.
Booth, T 2018, 'VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENTS AND SENTENCING HOMICIDE OFFENDERS: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF RECENT CHANGES TO THE CRIMES (SENTENCING PROCEDURE) ACT 1999 (NSW)', University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 130-156.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
The use of victim impact statements (‘VISs’) from family victims in
homicide matters, particularly as evidence of aggravating factors, is
contentious in NSW courts. Until July 2014, the law prevented VISs
influencing penalties imposed on homicide offenders (Previtera).
However, the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 was
amended in 2014 in order to overrule Previtera and enable VISs to
‘count’ in sentencing homicide offenders. This article draws on a
case study of 39 homicide sentencing judgments, July 2014–April
2017, to determine whether, and if so the extent to which, the new
law has changed the role of VISs from family victims in sentencing.
It also considers the practical implications of these findings for
future family victims and argues that not only has the new law made
little practical difference to the use of VISs in homicide matters, but
there are also potential adverse consequences for family victims in
the sentencing process.
Booth, T, Bosma, AK & Lens, KME 2018, 'Accommodating the Expressive Function of Victim Impact Statements: the scope for victims’ voices in Dutch Courtrooms', British Journal of Criminology, pp. 1480-1498.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
The expressive function of victim impact statements (VISs) enables victims to have a voice in legal proceedings—to speak and be heard about the harm caused by the offence. VISs have been adopted in many jurisdictions. While research reveals legal and institutional constraints on the expressive function of VISs in many jurisdictions with adversarial proceedings, we know little about the implementation of VISs in inquisitorial systems. We address this gap by reporting findings of an observational study that examines the scope for victims’ voices in criminal legal proceedings in the Netherlands. We find that these proceedings are better adapted to accommodate the expressive function of VISs. There is greater scope for victims to speak and be heard through their VISs.
Kaye, M, Wangmann, J & Booth, T 2017, 'Preventing personal cross-examination of parties in Family Law proceedings involving family violence', Australian journal of family law, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 94-117.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Plagiarism has been characterised as a ‘major problem’ for universities. While tensions between students and universities are inevitable, the problem with the existing system of plagiarism management and prevention is that it operates to problematise the relationship between the university and the student rather than address the core academic issues. As a result, a dichotomy is created where the student interest is constructed as adverse to that of the institution. This article argues that de-dichotomization of the current polarity of plagiarism will open space for alternative thoughtful considerations as to dealing with plagiarism positively in an institutional context.
Varnham, S, Evers, M, Booth, T & Avgoustinos, C 2015, 'Valuing their Voices: Student Participation in Decision Making in Australian Schools', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 1-16.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Third article from ECRG project
Booth, T 2014, 'The restorative capacities of victim impact statements: analysis of the victim–judge communication dyad in the sentencing of homicide offenders', Restorative Justice, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 253-277.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Victim impact statements (VISs) are said to introduce restorative elements into the sentencing hearing for the benefit of victims. Roberts and Erez (2004) argue that a key restorative feature of VISs is their potential to generate reciprocal communication between judge and victim: victims have the opportunity to speak about the impact of the crime and the court has the opportunity to acknowledge the harm suffered and validate victims' experiences. Drawing from the findings of a small qualitative study of VISs in homicide sentencing hearings in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, this paper examines the communicative potential of VISs. While the institutional context of VISs in common law jurisdictions constrains their communicative capacities, nonetheless oral VISs provide victims with a valuable opportunity to speak and be heard. Furthermore, while in the hearings studied there was little direct communication between judge and victim, this study reveals that VISs provide a context in which other, more indirect communications can occur
Varnham, S, Evers, M, Booth, T & Avgoustinos, C 2014, 'Democracy in Schools: Encouraging Responsibility and citizenship through student participation in school decision making', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 73-91.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
What should be the place of children’s voices in the running of their schools and in their education? Sadly,
in Australia this question is often overlooked in the shifting sands of education policy. Commonly, state
and federal governments focus on schools solely through a lens of educational attainment. Increasingly,
the emphasis seems to be on the development of the national curriculum, and on the measuring of school
and student performance in public examinations, publicised now on the MySchools website. Meanwhile,
the media often focus on the behavioural problems with which schools are dealing and statistics reveal an
increasing trend towards student disengagement from school through truancy and exclusion. The procedures
for addressing problems, prescribed in policy and legislation, tend to be reactive rather than proactive.
The formulation and establishment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC)
has led to a mounting global discussion on the rights of children generally. Particularly relevant in the
education context is the right of participation set out in Article 12(1) and the link between the development
of citizenship principles through democratic practices in schools, and nation-building.3 While participatory
and restorative practices in education have been the subject of debate for several decades, and have been
implemented elsewhere, such concepts have been slow to enter public consciousness in Australia. The
teaching of citizenship in schools here has concentrated on civics classroom education. Increasingly though
educators in Australia are taking the initiative in their schools to introduce citizenship by practice and
example within the school structure, by ‘doing’ rather than just ‘teaching’. Many of these practices are
associated with active citizenship and democracy, and are based on participation in decision making in
schools, including in the restoration of interpersonal relationships. Where measures are implemented ...
Booth, T 2013, 'Victim impact statements and the nature and incidence of offender remorse: Findings from an observation study in a superior sentencing court', Griffith Law Review, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 430-455.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Scholars have argued that disclosure of the impact of the crime on the victim through VISs has the potential to produce an emotional response in offenders that creates an opportunity for offenders to express remorse and apologise to crime victims in the sentencing hearing. Implicit in this claim, is that the incidence of such victim-focused remorse is a virtue and a positive restorative element of VISs. Drawing from data largely generated by observation of 18 sentencing hearings of homicide offenders and semi-structured interviews with 14 family victims, this article examines this claim by exploring offender response to VISs and the nature and incidence of offender remorse observed in the courtroom.
Booth, T 2013, 'Victim Impact Statements in the Contemporary Courtroom', PacifiCrim, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 8-8.
This article reports the findings of my qualitative study of victim participation in the sentencing of homicide offenders in the NSW Supreme Court,
Booth, T 2012, ''Cooling out' victims of crime: Managing victim participation in the sentencing process in a superior sentencing court', The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 214-230.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Victim participation in the sentencing hearing by way of oral victim impact statements (VISs) is a contentious aspect of contemporary criminal justice. A particular concern is that the disjuncture between the legal goals of the sentencing hearing on the one hand and the goals of victims on the other can generate tension and conflict in the courtroom and threaten the integrity of the process. The subject of this article is the management and containment of victim participation in 18 sentencing hearings observed in the NSW Supreme Court. It is argued that various cooling out structures and processes effectively managed and contained the emotional tension in the courtroom as well as assisted victims to adjust to the legal constraints and the compromise inherent in their position in the process.
Integrating victims and their victim impact statements in sentencing proceedings is a contemporary challenge for the court. This article argues that the requirement of fairness means that the sentencing court should consider and respond to the interests and concerns of both the defendant and the victim.
Varnham, S, Booth, T & Evers, M 2011, 'Let's Ask the Kids! - Practising Citizenship and Democracy in Australian Schools', International Journal of Law and Education, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 73-91.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
LetS ask the kids-yeah right! The focus of this article is a research project being undertaken in Australia which considers participative and restorative practices in New South Wales schools. Jt looks at the research inspiring this project which points to the part democratic principles may play in the engagement of children and young people in their schools and their education, and the development of citizenship principles which they take outside their school gates. This research considers the meaningful participation of children and young people in decision making in schools: its implementation, and its effectiveness and impact on school communities. Citizenship and democracy are about relationships, participation, rights and responsibility. In Australia and New Zealand, and comparative jurisdictions, the debate concerning the teaching of citizenship in schools has traditionally been centred on the extent to which civics education should be included in the school curriculum. In recent years the debate has widened to a more holistic view of citizenship or democracy in schools, from the restrictive approach of classroom learning only, to embrace teaching by practice and example within the school structure. Schools have a unique opportunity not only to teach democratic principles and values but also to reinforce and demonstrate that teaching by their practices and procedures. The model presented by a school provides a crucial template for the value system which students live by for the rest of their lives.
In the context of bail, punitive crime policies in NSW have led to a gradual erosion of the presumption in favour of bail, the conflation of bail conditions and penalty and a steady increase in the number of persons being held on remand. Continuing this punitive turn in crime police, the Bail Act 1978 was recently amended in respect of s22A. It is this amendment and the resultantant changes to the configuration of bail that is the subject of this article.
Booth, T 2007, 'Penalty, harm and the community: what role now for victim impact statements in sentencing homicide offenders in NSW?', The University of New South Wales Law Journal, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 664-685.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This article explores the role of victim impact statements from family victims in sentencing homicide offenders in NSW in the light of the combined effect of ss 3A(g) and 28(4)(b) of the Crimes (Senetencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) and the different approaches of other common law jurisdictions.
Booth, T 2007, 'The Contentious Role of Victim Impact Statements in Sentencing Homicide offenders in NSW', Law Society Journal, vol. 45, no. 10, pp. 68-71.
This article explores the contentious role of VIS from family victims in sentencing homicide offenders in NSW. Sentencing Courts in NSW do not take such victim impact evidence into account in sentencing and the issue is whether changes to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) have the result that VIS from family victims are relevant to sentencing.
Booth, T 2005, 'Restoring victims' voices: Victim Impact Statements in the sentencing process', Reform, vol. 86, no. Winter, pp. 59-62.
Booth, T 2004, 'Homicide, family victims and sentencing: continuing the debate about Victim Impact Statements', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 253-257.
Booth, T 2004, 'Homicide, family victims and sentencing: continuing the debate about Victim Impact Statements', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 253-257.
Booth, T 2004, 'Key Elements to Writing a Good Essay', Surviving Law School: A Guide to the Study of Law, vol. None, pp. 13-14.
IIn 2001 the National Pro Bono Task Force ('the Task Force') found .that although the legal profession makes a signi.ficant contribution to the community through its pro bono work, a high level of unmet demand for legal as~stance remains.' The objective of the Task Force was to increase the number of lawyers offering pro bono services in areas where there is the greatest need. The Task Force recommended that action be taken to actively promote 'a strong pro bono cutture in Australia'2 and. to this end, that law students be given opportunities to participate in intemships outreach programs with a pro bono focus
Booth, T 2003, 'Altered Perceptions of Conflict in Homicide Matters: The Role of Victim-Offender Conferencing', Australian Dispute Resolution Journal, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 290-298.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Booth, T 2001, 'Learning Environments, Economic Rationalism and Criminal Law: Towards Quality Teaching and Learning Outcomes', UTS Law Review, vol. 3, pp. 17-39.
The subject of this article is a teaching and learning model developed by the author to faciltate quality learning outcomes for students of Criminal Law at UWS. The model utilises both traditional and emergent online teaching technologies to actively engage students with Criminal Law, develop life-long learning skills and hopefully generate an enjoyable learning experience.
Report on the preliminary findings of a research project - evaluates and analyses 78 victim impact statements from family victims submitted in 32 homicide cases in New South Wales - between 2 April 1997 and 31 December 2000 - strong common themes - impact upon family victims - manner and circumstances of the deceased's death - personal qualities of the deceased - negative characterisation of the offender - need for justice - frustration with the processes of criminal justice.
Booth, T 2000, 'The dead victim, the family victim and victim impact statements in New South Wales', Current Issues in Criminal Justice, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 292-307.
Booth, T, 'Family Violence and Judicial Empathy: Managing Personal Cross Examination in Australian Family Law Proceedings', Oñati Socio-legal Series, vol. 9, no. 9(5), pp. 702-725.View/Download from: UTS OPUS or Publisher's site
Enquiries and research reveal that many victims of family violence who are personally cross-examined by the alleged perpetrator of that violence in family law proceedings find the process traumatising and intimidating. Not only can such processes generate unsafe and unfair outcomes but also they are unlikely to produce the high quality evidence required by the court. In deference to the emotional wellbeing and vulnerability of these victims, a number of measures for receiving such evidence are available to Australian Family Court judges. However, currently these are all discretionary powers and anecdotal evidence suggests that the use of these tools is unpredictable and dependent on the individual judge. In the absence of empirical evidence, this paper aims to open up potential emotional dimensions of judicial decision-making in this context with a view to exploring these theoretical ideas in later empirical work. Investigaciones revelan que muchas víctimas de violencia doméstica que, en el curso de procedimientos en tribunales de derecho de familia, son sometidas a contrainterrogatorios por parte del supuesto autor de esa violencia consideran ese proceso traumatizante e intimidatorio. Esos procesos no sólo pueden arrojar resultados inseguros e injustos, sino que también tienen pocas probabilidades de producir el material probatorio de calidad que requiere un tribunal. Por deferencia al bienestar emocional y a la vulnerabilidad de esas víctimas, los jueces de familia de Australia tienen a su disposición varias medidas para obtener esas pruebas; sin embargo, actualmente, son sólo poderes discrecionales, y pruebas circunstanciales sugieren que su uso es impredecible y dependiente de cada juez. En ausencia de pruebas empíricas, este artículo intenta abrir una dimensión emocional potencial de la toma de decisiones judiciales en este contexto, con miras a explorar esas ideas teóricas en trabajos empíricos posteriores.
Booth, T & Carrington, K 2018, 'Victims support in policy and legal process in Australia: Still an ambivalent and contested space' in Walklate, S (ed), Handbook of Victims and Victimology, Taylor and Francis, Great Britain, pp. 293-307.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the Year and prominent advocate for the rights of victims of domestic violence, has lead a remarkable campaign to raise public consciousness in relation to the needs of such victims, particularly the dearth of appropriate services. A significant outcome in September 2015 was the Australian federal government’s announcement of a $300 million funding package directed to improve the services and support available to victims of domestic violence. Nonetheless, victims in Australia continue to occupy both an ambivalent and contested role in policy and law. This chapter looks at the role of victims in both policy and legal settings and argues that despite an apparent expansion of services and entitlements, the politics of victims’ rights remains fraught.
Booth, T 2015, 'Victim impact statements, sentencing and contemporary standards of fairness in the courtroom' in Wilson, D & Ross, S (eds), Crime, Victims and Policy International Contexts, Local Experiences, Palgrave Macmillan, UK, pp. 161-183.
Crime, Victims and Policy brings together the work of leading international scholars to examine how the experience of victims of crime, and the formulation of policies and theory that impact upon them, are translated and experienced within ...
Booth, T 2011, 'Researching Sensitive Topics, Emotion Work and the Qualitative Researcher: Interviewing bereaved Victims of Crime' in Bartels, L & Richards, K (eds), Qualiative Criminology: Stories from the Field, Hawkins Press, Sydney, pp. 83-94.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This chapter contributes to an emerging literature on the researcher's emotion work in qualitiatve criminological research through an analysis and evaluation of the writer's fieldwork experiences interviewing bereaved victims of crime. The findings reveal that emotions and emotion work were integral to the study: the 'sensitive' nature of the research area, the collection and analysis of the data and the epistemological significance of researcher's experiences.
Booth, T & Carrington, K 2007, 'A Comparative Analysis of the victim policies across the Anglo-Speaking World' in Sandra Walklate (ed), Handbook of Victims and Victimology, Willan Publishing, UK, pp. 380-415.View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This chapter details the growing interest in victims by politicians and support groups. It provides details of victim participation in criminal justice process in many western jurisdictions.
Booth, T 2019, 'Emotion in sentencing: Remorse and Victim Impact Statements', Judges: Angry? Biased? Burned out?, Canberra.
When sentencing an offender, judges are frequently required to assess the victim's experience as presented through a victim impact statement as well as any evidence of remorse on the part of the offender. They may also have to attend to and manage expressions of emotion from those in the courtroom, as well as regulating theor own feelings and demeanour.
Booth, T 2018, 'Law, integrity and judicial empathy: managing direct and personal cross-examination of victims of family violence by alleged perpetrators of that violence in family law proceedings.', Judging, Emotion and Emotion Work, International Institute for the Sociology of Law workshop, Onati, Spain.
Booth, T 2018, 'The Law's response to victims of intimate partner violence - different legal domains, shifting legal identities and traumatic legal processes', International Victimology symposium, Hongkong.
Booth, T 2017, 'Family violence and self-represented perpetrators in court - the differences, gaps and deficiencies of law reform', Crime and Justice in Asia and the Global South, Cairns.
Booth, T 2016, 'Using a common law imagination to reconceptualise the sentencing hearing as a restorative event', Socio Legal Studies Association Conference, Lancaster University, UK.
Increasingly, opportunities are being made available for victims and offenders to engage in restorative justice initiatives at multiple points in the criminal justice process across several common law jurisdictions including the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Examples of restorative initiatives at the sentencing point include: deferring the passing of sentence to allow a pre-sentencing restorative event to proceed outside of the courtroom in the UK and the use of circle sentencing for indigenous offenders as occurs in New South Wales. Restorative initiatives that impact directly on mainstream sentencing proceedings however – such as extending the purposes of sentencing to include restoration of the victim or enhancing victims’ entitlements to participate in the courtroom – are regarded as particularly controversial and resisted in many jurisdictions.
This paper will explore restorative possibilities in the sentencing hearing and, in particular, Doak’s suggestion that such hearings should be restructured to reflect aspects of the partie civile model and relevant innovations at the International Criminal Court in order to be better responsive to victims’ interests (Doak, 2015). Using Shapland’s conception of the sentencing hearing as a ‘community forum’ that deals with the aftermath of crime (2010) as the frame, the paper will challenge the idea that restoration in mainstream sentencing hearings is well outside the perceived ‘normative boundaries’ of the ordinary legal proceedings. Findings of an ethnographic study of sentencing hearings in New South Wales will be used to highlight restorative possibilities that could contribute to the transformation of the sentencing hearing as a restorative event.
Booth, T 2013, 'Building on the Theoretical: an Ethnographic study of victim participation in the courtroom', Criminology on Trial - The British Society of Criminology Conference, Wolverhampton, UK.
A marked and often contentious feature of contemporary criminal justice policy in common law jurisdictions such as Britain and Australia is the prioritisation of the perceived interests and concerns of crime victims. The use of victim impact statements (VISs) in the sentencing hearing, particularly those VISs read aloud to the court by victims, has been especially controversial sparking considerable debate amongst legal professionals and scholars. Opponents of oral VISs have expressed concerns that the emotionality of such statements has potential to threaten the courts integrity and the offenders entitlement to a fair hearing. Proponents of VISs argue that the communicative capacities of VISs provide legitimate restorative benefits for victims during the hearing. Although a rich scholarship in relation to VISs has emerged, aside from a small study by Rock (2010), very little work has been done to test these claims in the context of actual victim participation in the courtroom. This paper will explore the construction and challenges of an ethnographic study of the participation of family victims in the sentencing of homicide offenders in the NSW Supreme Court with particular focus on the use of courtroom observation and narrative analysis techniques to generate and analyse data.
Booth, T 2013, 'Building on Theory: An Ethnographic Study of Victim Participation in the Courtroom', Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, 2013 conference, Brisbane.
The use of victim impact statements (VISs) in the sentencing hearing, particularly those VISs read aloud to the court by victims, has been especially controversial sparking considerable debate amongst legal professionals and scholars. Opponents of oral VISs have expressed concerns that the emotionality of such statements has potential to threaten the courts integrity and the offenders entitlement to a fair hearing. Proponents of VISs argue that the communicative capacities of VISs provide legitimate restorative benefits for victims during the hearing. Although a rich scholarship in relation to VISs has emerged, aside from a small study by Rock (2010), very little work has been done to test these claims in the context of actual victim participation in the courtroom. This paper will explore the construction and challenges of an ethnographic study of the participation of family victims in the sentencing of homicide offenders in the NSW Supreme Court with particular focus on the use of courtroom observation and narrative analysis techniques to generate and analyse data.
Booth, T 2013, 'Think Dynamic, Adaptive and Reflective: Better Integration of Victims and their Victim Impact Statements', Promoting a Neutral and transparent criminal justice system for victims of crime, Melbourne.
This paper focuses on the integration of victim impact statements (VIS) and the treatment of victims in the sentencing hearing. I set out to challenge the traditional conception of the adversarial sentencing hearing in which the `private interests of the victim are regarded as compromising the rights and protections afforded to the offender and threatening the overall legitimacy of the criminal justice system (Ashworth, 1993). Instead I argue that the contemporary sentencing hearing should be re-conceptualised as a forum charged by the community to deal with the aftermath of crime (Shapland, 2010). In such a forum, while offenders clearly have an entitlement to a fair hearing, the principle of fairness requires that victims cannot be ignored or treated with disrespect in the courtroom without the potential for casting doubt on the integrity of the legal proceedings. Here the metaphor of `balancing competing interests is misleading: the interests of the offender and the victim in the sentencing hearing are qualitatively different and not mutually exclusive. While a legislative right to submit a VIS can create an image of a fair process, the treatment of the victim in the courtroom is crucial to that victims assessment of the fairness of the hearing (Wemmers). Drawing from examples of recent cases particularly in Victoria and South Australia and the findings of a study of 18 sentencing hearings in the NSW Supreme Court, I identify and analyse specific aspects of the sentencing proceedings that have a significant impact on the victims experience in the courtroom and make suggestions as to how victims might be better integrated in the sentencing hearing.
Varnham, S, Evers, M & Booth, T 2012, 'Valuing their voices: responsibility and retention through student participation in school decision making', Socio-Legal Studies Association Annual Conference, de Mountfort University, Leicester, UK.
Annual conference of Socio-Legal Studies Association. Dissemination of ECRG Research project
Booth, T 2011, 'Cooling out victims of crime in the courtroom: constructing and reconstructing frameworks for victim participation', Economies and insecurities of crime and justice, British society of Criminology annual conference, Newcastle-on-Tyne UK.
Victims of crime are said to enjoy a voice in the sentencing hearing through the submission of victim impact statements (VISs). The integration of crime victims in sentencing hearings through VIS provides a contemporary challenge for criminal justice and judges in particular. Difficulties can arise from both the ambiguity of the role of the victim in the hearing and the generation, expression and management of concomitant emotions. A contentious issue is the role of VIS in the sentencing hearing and especially the influence of that VIS on the ultimate penalty. In NSW, VIS are not taken into account for the purpose of developing penalty and according to Prosecution Guidelines, it is the Crowns task to ensure that victims are so advised. Nonetheless, many victims of crime present their VISs with either unreasonable or misguided expectations that their words will influence the sentencing task. Drawing on the work of Goffman and his followers, `cooling out is a process whereby the `cooler has the job of handling persons whose expectations and/or self-conceptions have proved false or been disappointed. `Cooling out provides a conceptual framework for understanding aspects of courtroom interaction between the judge and the crime victim. Using data from an ethnographic study of sentencing hearings in NSW, it will be argued that judges anticipate and manage the disappointed expectations of victims as to the relevance of VIS to the sentencing hearing by using a cooling out process. It is in the interests of the court not to have to cope with disgruntled or even angry victims and the potential for disorder in the courtroom.
Varnham, S & Booth, T 2011, 'To live and learn through democratic practices: a case study of citizenship and democracy in an Australian School', Annual Conference of the Education Law Association, Chicago, US.
USB of papers
Paper later published in International Journal for Law and Education
Booth, T 2013, 'Sentencing and a Multitude of Victims: towards the development of a victimology for crimes involving mass victimisation', Victimology and Human Security: the 13th International Symposium on Victimology, Mito, Japan.
This paper aims to contribute to developing victimology with regard to victim participation in the sentencing of offenders convicted of crimes involving mass victimisation. Such crimes include terrorism related offences, human trafficking and arson. Although not without controversy, victim participation in the sentencing of 'conventional' homicide offenders has become a well established feature of many national systems. Unique issues arise however in circumstances of mass victimisation and several jurisdictions have already experienced significant legal and political difficulties grappling with victim impat evidence in domestic terrorim cases (Indonesia, USA). A contemporary challenge for legislators is to formulate policy and implement an appropriate legislative framework that will maintain due process and faciltate participation by crime victims in conformity with community standards and expectations. Drawing on the exeperiences of US courts that have recently grappled with the phenomenon of victim impact evidence in domestic terrorism cases, this paper will explore particular issues including the selection of victims to be heard, the enormous volume of victim impact evidence an courtroom governance of concomitant emotions.
Booth, T 2008, 'Victim Participation in Sentencing: a challenge to the requirements of due process in the courtroom?', National Victims of Crime Conference, Victim Support Service Inc, Adelaide.
This paper presented findings from a qualitative research project that seeks to investigate the interaction of victim participation in sentencing through VISs and traditional criminal procedure in the courtroom.. Data collected from the observation of VIS submitted to the NSW supreme Court when sentencing homicide offenders and interviews with family victims will be presented and discussed.
Booth, T & Townsley, L 2008, 'Bail as a Punitive Process in NSW', Crimiinology: Linking Theory, Policy and Practice: 21st Annual Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, Canberra.
This paper focuses on a recent amendment to the NSW Bail Act that represents a punitive reconfiguration of bail in NSW. Section 22A now imposes major restrictions on the number of bail applications that an accused can make to any court in relation to an offence. The adverse repercussions of this provision are already being keenly felt by those involved in the bail process, particularly juvenile accused. In this paper we argue that the provision lacks a rational, empirical foundation and undermines the law's long-standing commitment to the funamental criminal justice principles of the presumption of innocence and concomitant rights to release and liberty. Ostensibly the amendment was introduced to prevent 'magistrate shopping' and alleviate the worry and anguish of crime victims. We contend however that section 22A is really intended as punishment and to promote the government's tough law and order policies.
Booth, T 2007, 'Victim preparation in Sentencing Homicide Offenders in NSW: a Decivilising Trend?', Disciplines and Punishments: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Crime and Justice, UNSW, Kensington, NSW.
Booth, T 2006, 'Dispute Resolution in the Criminal Justice Context: Through the Lens of the Crime Victim', Meiji/UWS Research Symposium, Parramatta, NSW.
Booth, T 2006, 'Homicide Matters and Victim Impact Evidence: a New Sentencing Paradigm in NSW', UWS Research Symposium at Parramatta, UWS, Parramatta.
Booth, T 2006, 'Homicide, Victim Impact Evidence and the Conceptualisation of Harm: the Role of Victim Impact Statements in Sentencing Homicide Offenders', Centre for Sentencing Research conference, University of Strathclyde, UK.
Booth, T 2006, 'Victims of Crime, Vulnerable Citizens and the Criminal Justice Paradigm', Sentencing: Principles, Perpectives and Possibilities, National Judicial College of Australia, Canberra.
Booth, T 2006, 'Victims of crime, vulnerable citizens and the criminal justice paradigm', Sentencing: Principles Perspectives and Possibilities Conference, Canberra.
This paper explores recent amendments to the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act (NSW) that require the sentencing court to take account of the harm sustained by the victim and the community when formulating penalty. In particular the issue addressed is whether these amendments require NSW sentencing courts to change their approach to victim impact statements from family victims in the sentencing of homicide offenders.
Booth, T & Fitzpatrick, S 2004, 'A New Law School: The Challenges of Amalgamation', Crossing Boundaries, ALTA, Darwin.
Booth, T 2013, 'Language and Ritual of Sentencing in Homicide Cases: The INcreasing Visibility of family victims', Controlling Crime, Risks and Responsibilities: Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology Conference, Sydney.
Victim impact statements from family victims have become a regular feature of homicide trials in Australia. However the expressive and emotional aspects of these VISs have generated considerable debate regarding the judicial propriety of taking this evidence into account for the purposes of sentencing. This debate is reflected in the difference legislative and judicial responses of various Australian jurisdictions. This paper will argue that these differences are explicable as expressions of judicial politics reflecting the difficulties judges experience in coping with the impact of discourses surrounding victims of crime and concomitant pressures placed upon them by governments, media and the family victims themselves. More significant are the commonalities in the judgments regarding the reception of VISs and the increased awareness of family victims as reflected in the lnaguage and ritual of sentencing. These sentencing trends suggest an increasing humanisation of the process that arguably will deliver greater substantive justice to the family victim.
Booth, T 2002, 'The Aftermath of Homicide: Meeting needs and expectations of Survivors through conferencing in NSW', Conferencing, Circles and other Restorative Practices, Minneapolis, US.
This paper aims to introduce an innovative family group conferencing program that has been recently implemented in NSW and to explore the program's potential to meet the needs and expectations of homicide survivors currently unmet by conventional criminal justice processes. The program is an overtly victim-oriented, communitarian model of restorative justice that operates on a post-conviction basis. There are no restrictions as to the nature of the offences that may be the subject of a conference provided there is an identifiable victim. Using a case study of a recent conference involving a homicide, the presentation will demonstrate the operation of the conferencing program and its application for homicide survivors.
Kaye, M, Booth, T & Wangmann, J 2018, 'Submission on Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2018, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018'.
Booth, T 2014, 'Victim Impact Statements to Sway Homicide Penalties? Think Again', The Conversation Media Trust.
In the wake of the sentencing of Kieran Loveridge for the manslaughter of Thomas Kelly, the NSW government has been busy implementing new sentencing laws. As part of this activity, the government is now consulting with interested stakeholders about a proposal to change the states sentencing laws so that sentencing courts `may take account of victim impact statements (VISs) from members of the deceaseds family (family victims) in determining the penalty that is imposed on homicide offenders. This article explains why such a change to the law has the potential to be significantly detrimental to the interests of family victims in the sentencing hearing and should not go ahead.