Subject: Following the widely acclaimed success in 2011 of the course on the representations of justice, this study seminar aims to provide a new opportunity to ponder on the role of case law in modern society, as reflected by crime news and, in general, by the media representation of trials and the contribution of the arts (film, theatre and literature).
Once again, the aim of the course is to tackle the course subject from a triple perspective: that provided by crime news, that created by the media representations of trials and, finally, the justice in the spheres of cinema, literature and TV fiction.
The first level concerns issues related to the journalists’ reconstruction of ongoing proceedings: distorted news, infringements of investigative secret, emphasis of certain investigation results, press campaigns supporting the innocence of defendants or siding with the prosecution, and investigations conducted by news agencies.
The second level concerns the widespread and growing trend of making the mass media, especially Television, the elective place for celebrating a trial parallel to the institutional one. A trial which public opinion tends to perceive as more immediate and reliable and, hence, more fit for searching for truth than the legal trial – the latter being fettered by formalities and rituals that are hardly intelligible to most people.
Another interesting aspect of the course – which cuts across the second two levels – is the analysis of the representation of crime organizations and of the judicial structures created to fight the mafia, especially with reference to the various narrative methods used to recount the facts and the lives of criminals: from the risk of creating distorted models, to the possibility of disseminating among the course participants a greater civic knowledge of media communication and its contents on a large scale. In this context, it is important also for judges to reflect on how such representations are perceived by the general public, and if necessary also pointing out the risk of an identification mechanism that certain movies and TV fiction series may trigger.
Objectives: first, identifying – through the contribution of journalists, directors, script writers and authors – how and why the way the society perceives the trial and the work of the criminal judge. Then reflecting on the effects of such perception on the way in which the judge interprets and performs his institutional functions, and on the “democratic” and institutional value that the community ascribes to the task of adjudication.
The need to reflect on this issue is all the more evident if we consider the blatant controversy that has surrounded various criminal investigations, in respect of which the magistrates – be them judges or prosecutors – seem to have lost that aura of neutrality and remoteness from the facts that has always characterized the concept of impartiality, as the bastion of independence of jurisdiction.
Structure and methodology: The course will begin with a critical review of the legal (procedural and substantive) framework with which our legal system has currently undertaken to seek that very fine point of balance between the need for procedural confidentiality and that of transparency in the way justice is delivered. This, by emphasizing that the limits imposed on the dissemination of the documents to the case must be grounded on the need to protect constitutionally relevant interests. The aim of the course, therefore, is to examine – with the aid of “experts” in the sector – the ways in which proceedings and magistrates are traditionally represented, analyzing the nonstandard procedures of such representation and the reasons behind such choices.
The teaching method will also consist of nontraditional presentations, with the aim to closely examine the various perceptions of jurisdiction, also through the screening of videos.
Candidates: judicial and prosecuting magistrates of first instance and high court. The course is open to private practice attorneys.