Document Type

Article - On Campus Only

Publication Date



In this study, we explore the role of gender in the exercise of judicial discretion in local criminal trial courts. We studied the courtroom behavior of men and women judges in four states and the District of Columbia, attempting to determine whether gender plays a meaningful role in judicial behavior A large body of theoretical literature posits the existence of a so-called feminine voice that conditions women’s perspectives on social reality and moral questions and their attempts to resolve conflicts. In short, we sought to uncover the potential workings of this theoretical proposition in trial courts. We arrive atfour central findings. First, male and female voice traits were exhibited by both men and women judges. Second, women judges were more likely to rely on the prosecutors in issuing their rulings, while men judges were more likely to side with the defense. Third, women were likely to employ inclusive and procedural judicial styles. And fourth, men were more likely to employ both the consensual and the authoritarian styles.

Recommended Citation

Fox, Richard, and Robert Van Sickel. “Gender Dynamics and Judicial Behavior in Criminal Trial Courts: An Exploratory Study.” The Justice System Journal, vol. 21, no. 3, 2000, pp. 261–280.