Judicial authority through the experiences of crisis

Publication Name

Jindal Global Law Review


This article is concerned with law’s experiences and making sense of crisis. When we talk about law’s response to crisis, we refer to law not as an abstract set of rules but as an embodied and animated assemblage of relations and practices. This way, law needs to make sense of any crisis to respond to it. The article draws on cultural legal studies to explore the constitution of judicial authority in the context of a democracy in flux. The article relies on fieldwork data collected in the interviews conducted by the author with Lithuanian judges in 2019. Highest in more than two decades, public trust in the judiciary in 2018 indicated a remarkable achievement for Lithuania, a country whose judicial system had been in a state of flux since the end of the Soviet era. However, after an unprecedented and highly mediated judicial corruption scandal in 2019, the rates of public trust plummeted, uncovering complex dynamics between the image of courts, mass media, and the public. Against this backdrop, the article explores how judges make sense of crisis that develops on the intersections of provocative reality judging and formal judicial institutions. It shows how judicial authority is constituted in the conditions of crisis on the tension between law and culture. Emerging from a crisis of authority is the changing face of judging. A post-colonial vantage point and theatrical jurisprudence are used to respond to a development of a desire of power under a mask of rationality, objectivity, and universality. The article concludes by contemplating how this authority shapes our lifeworlds.

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