Judicial punishtecture and mercying in Cyprus
Santis, Nicholas George
The thesis unveils how judges decide sentences in Cyprus and how they employ mercy to contour their judgments by determining at the same time whether these decisions are reached within or on the basis of a consistent legitimising framework founded in or derived from moral legal theory. The study professes a degree of originality in that it deals with the academically unexplored ground of the Cypriot sentencing reality and investigates the role of mercy not only as a component (or not) element of justice but, additionally, as a purposive ingredient of judicial discretion in the determination of sentence. It emphasises positive rather than normative analysis. It concentrates on how Cypriot judges sentence, and not on how they should or ought to sentence, by depicting and explaining the judges’ method of reaching their sentencing decisions in substance and in form (or their punishtecture as it will be characterised), including the demonstration on their part of mercy to certain defendants at the sentencing stage (or mercying as it will similarly be referred to). Following a discussion of relevant conceptual and empirical literature the thesis present and analyses a substantial body of data generated from a series of tête-à-tête semi-structured interviews conducted by the researcher with the majority of the Cypriot judiciary between 2007 and 2008. The research yields the judges’ views on the nature of the sentencing process and the conceptions, design, structuring, and utterance of their resultant judgments within the criminal justice context in which they find themselves acting. It presents what they have said about the choice of punishment and mercy and reconstructs what they may be taken to have meant by saying it; their aims and purposes in sentencing; the constraints under which they operate; the way they exercise their penal choices; and the use (or dismissal) of mercy as an etiological foundation of sentencing rationales.