Discretion from a Legal Perspective

  • Peter Mascini


While not all legal scholarship fits in a so-called legal paradigm, a specific approach to discretion is still occasionally attributed to legal scholarship as such. Particularly some socio-legal scholars are inclined to contrast it with their own approach to the study of discretion. After setting out the main characteristics of the legal paradigm, the chapter continues by illustrating that a socio-legal approach of discretion indeed complements the legal paradigm by rendering visible the variable ways in which discretion is used in practice which research that fits in the legal paradigm cannot. The illustration is based on a case study of judges’ use of sentencing discretion in lower courts. Subsequently, it is argued that contrasting the legal paradigm with a socio-legal approach may come at a cost. Differences between a legal and a socio-legal approach to the study of discretion may be overstated while commonalities may be missed.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Mascini
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Erasmus School of LawErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural SciencesErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands

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