Poetic Justice: An Interpretation of Lawyers Reactions to Verse Judgments



Publication Details

Strickland, A. (2016). Poetic justice: An interpretation of Lawyers’ reactions to verse judgments. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 29 (3), 643-666.


This article offers an interpretation of lawyers’ reactions to verse judgments, being judicial decisions rendered in rhymed poetry form. While, in recent history, there has been an unexplained break in the close historical connection between poetry and law, some judges nevertheless continue to render their judicial decisions in verse. This has met strong criticism from fellow judges, inevitably, but also from lawyers. However, there is no evidence in academic writing of anyone attempting to explain why lawyers are having these reactions. Endeavouring to fill that void, this research employs hermeneutics to offer an interpretation of lawyers’ reactions to verse judgments. The article analyses the varied opinions uncovered in five qualitative interviews with lawyers of different backgrounds, and contends that a movement of poetry back towards its utilitarian origins would see lawyers change their reaction to verse judgments, instead viewing them as an appropriate form of judicial expression.

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