WMU Home > WMU News

WMU News

WMU News on Twitter

Court's role in South African transition to democracy

March 11, 2010

KALAMAZOO--"Judging in Black and White: Decision Making in the South African Appellate Division, 1950-2010" is the topic of a lecture Wednesday, March 17, on the campus of Western Michigan University.

Dr. Stacia Haynie, vice provost for academics and planning at Louisiana State University, will speak at 7 p.m. in Room 2020 of the Fetzer Center. The event, which is free and open to the public, is the Institute of Government and Politics' 2009-10 Samuel I. Clark Lecture, named for a political scientist who was the founding dean of the Lee Honors College.

Despite increasing recognition of judges as political actors, few studies have explored the role and function of judges and judging in countries transitioning from repressive to democratic regimes. Using the unique circumstances of the South African evolution from apartheid to constitutional democracy, Haynie creates a portrait of the individuals who staffed the bench during the rise and fall of apartheid by exploring the dilemma of judging in a system that juxtaposes the formal law with the repressive law. Regardless of adherence to the legal rules, she says, judging cannot be fully separated from the larger moral questions embedded in these systems. Among the most challenging issues is how "impartial" judges who serve during an authoritarian regime transition to a new democratic order.

Haynie studies judicial politics with special emphasis on comparative appellate court decision-making. Her work includes studies of the appellate courts in the Philippines and South Africa as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. With support from the National Science Foundation, Haynie and her colleagues have created a 10-country appellate courts data set to empirically evaluate judges and judging in a truly comparative context.

For more information, contact Dr. Susan Hoffmann, associate professor of political science, at susan.hoffmnann@wmich.edu or (269) 387-5692.

Share |

Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400