Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Law


This research examines the transformation of judicial authority in Lithuania over the past twenty years. While mainstream interest in the role of the judiciary in changing conditions is growing, only a few studies are challenging the prevalent ignorance about the law’s reactions and responses to the challenges in transitioning democracies. This study fills a gap in knowledge about the role of culture in legal transformations in transitioning democracies by answering the question of whether the newly developing concept of judicial authority in Lithuania is influenced or affected by media and television judging programmes.

In response to the call to explore the cultural formation of law (Sharp, Leiboff, 2015), this research builds on the methodological framework of adapted ethnography (Sharp, 2015) and draws on postcolonial studies and theatrical jurisprudence (Leiboff, 2019) in the analysis. As a method of doing cultural legal studies, the research design enabled the contextually embedded interrogation of the informants’ responses and reactions to a montage of two Lithuanian programmes, Court and Culture Court, and subsequent interviews or focus group discussions. The analysis draws on two focus group discussions and eight individual interviews with 17 judges of the first instance courts and two television creators, all situated in Lithuania.

The analysis of the referential realm draws attention to the challenges of the ideal of a dispassionate judge in the Lithuanian context. As a sense of justice developed within the legal consciousness, the importance of and obstacles to critical reflection were revealed in the analysis of the critical realm.

Based on participants’ responses, a combination of theatrical and Soviet postcolonial perspectives focusing on the role of culture in rethinking judicial roles helped uncover the main challenges posed by tensions between political allegiance and the rule of law, along with issues such as privacy, trust, judicial image, and impartiality. These challenges highlight the need to address the development of a sense of justice in legal consciousness through critical reflection on Lithuanian cultural heritage. The thesis reveals how bodily responsiveness does not preclude the formation of caring judicial authority, whereas law’s violence is largely attributed to the denial of the body in a democracy in flux.

This thesis, therefore, provides a unique lens for critical reflection on the legal consciousness of the legal profession in a democracy in flux. This new perspective allows a better understanding of how legal consciousness is shaped by history and culture, as well as how these factors shape the law and its application in a rapidly changing world. By interrogating the effects of popular culture on the newly emerging concept of judicial authority in post-Soviet society, this study opens up a new area for research.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.