All have been designed to explore uncharted waters and to effect changes in the law and practice, and/or to poke sacred cows and stimulate thinking and debate.

Judges’ Working Lives 2002-2011

This Nuffield funded project was an internationally unique, wide and deep anthropological study of judges at work at every level of the English Legal System, from district judges to Supreme Court Justices, in every type of work. With the support of Lord Chief Justice Judge, I was given unlimited access to the judiciary. Using a unique method, I work shadowed 40 judges, sitting beside them, in and out of the courtroom, observing and discussing their work and reading all case documentation. I interviewed 37 more, meeting hundreds more in courts throughout England and Wales. I stayed in lodgings with High Court judges on circuit and I was permitted to observe and report on appellate deliberations, one of only two researchers ever allowed to do this, worldwide. This produced many papers, articles and judicial training sessions and culminated in the 2011 book, Sitting in Judgment, which has sold widely in 34 countries and was serialised in The Guardian Online and published in Chinese, in 2018.

Judicial Management of Serious Criminal Cases 2011-14

This work was supported by and delivered to Lord Chief Justice Thomas. Using the same method, I visited 12 Crown Courts and investigated case management practices within each group of judges, uncovering widespread departures from the Criminal Procedure Rules and considerable divergence in practice. The work, published in 2014, was cited by Lord Justice Leveson in his 2015 Review of Efficiency in Criminal Proceedings, resulting in changes in practice and in the Criminal Procedure Rules.

Meta-analysis of all English language jury research 2001

This was commissioned by Lord Justice Auld for his Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales 2001 here. He adopted all recommendations in his Review. Some were enacted in the Criminal Justice Act 2003, or influenced practice or procedure. For instance, the Act repealed the long lists of people ineligible for jury service, or disqualified, or excusable as of right, thus achieving my aim of extending jury service to all citizens, including doctors, nurses, judges and lawyers.

The lamp that shows that freedom lives – is it worth the candle? 1991

This widely known provocative, philosophical article was designed to challenge traditional and sentimental defences of the jury system. It provoked debate. It is plagiarised all over the internet and extremely widely cited. It became standard required reading for A level law students and first year law undergraduates. It resulted in many presentations and media appearances.

Plea bargaining, the UK Supreme Court, Criminal Procedure, Magistrates, Magistrates’ Clerks, Jury Issues

I have researched and published pieces on these topics, many of which have been influential. For instance, the last item, my PhD research, published as a 1984 book, resulted in changes in practice and in both clerks’ and magistrates’ training. I worked in a Law Commission working group on jury misconduct and jury secrecy in 2013, which initiated the creation of 4 criminal offences in 2014.

Darbyshire on the English Legal System 2020

This textbook is full of original research and analysis and designed to stimulate critical thinking.

Scholarly Affiliations

Law & Society Association: CRN 4 Lay Participation in Legal Systems and CRN 43 Innovations in Judging

Formerly Society of Legal Scholars and Socio-Legal Studies Association