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What is Procedural Justice?: Criteria used by Citizens to Assess the Fairness of Legal Procedures

Tom R. Tyler
Law & Society Review
Vol. 22, No. 1 (1988), pp. 103-136
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Law and Society Association
DOI: 10.2307/3053563
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3053563
Page Count: 33
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What is Procedural Justice?: Criteria used by Citizens to Assess the Fairness of Legal Procedures
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Abstract

This paper examines procedural justice in the context of citizen experiences with the police and courts. It is based on interviews of 652 citizens with recent personal experiences involving those authorities. I will consider two issues: first, whether the justice of the procedures involved influences citizen satisfaction with outcomes and evaluations of legal authorities; and second, how citizens define "fair process" in such settings. The results replicate those of past studies, which found that procedural justice has a major influence on both satisfaction and evaluation. They further suggest that such procedural justice judgments are complex and multifaceted. Seven issues make independent contributions to citizen judgments about whether the legal authorities acted fairly: (1) the degree to which those authorities were motivated to be fair; (2) judgments of their honesty; (3) the degree to which the authorities followed ethical principles of conduct; (4) the extent to which opportunities for representation were provided; (5) the quality of the decisions made; (6) the opportunities for error correction; and (7) whether the authorities behaved in a biased fashion. I found that the meaning of procedural justice varied according to the nature of the situation, not the characteristics of the people involved.

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