Marianne Quirouette, who is currently completing her PhD program in the Department of Sociology, has been awarded a prestigious Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships to pursue research in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program seeks to support the top postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will “positively contribute to the country’s economic, social and research-based growth.” It is highly competitive and Marianne is one of 23 recipients in the Social Sciences and Humanities from the most recent competition, ranked 2nd of the eligible 157 applications reviewed by the selection committee.
Marianne’s postdoctoral program will build on the research that she has been conducting for her Doctorate. Her PhD dissertation, entitled, Risks, Needs and Reality Checks: Community Work with Disadvantaged Justice-Involved Individuals. This study draws from 105 interviews and two years of fieldwork focusing on the governance of ‘complex-need’ clients who are criminalized and depend on services offered by practitioners in and out of the justice system. Marianne shows that the production, sharing and use of risk knowledges helps community practitioners address a variety of objectives and interests. Her dissertation is supervised by Professors Hannah-Moffat, Phil Goodman and Paula Maurutto.
For her postdoctoral program, Marianne will continue to focus her research on people with multiple disadvantages in the Canadian legal system, this time centering her research on the role of defense lawyers. The title of her postdoctoral project is, Working the Margins: Defense Lawyers in Criminal Courts Negotiating Complexity and Disadvantage. The project abstract follows.
Canada’s criminal justice system is overflowing with multiply disadvantaged people accused of low-level crimes or administrative offenses. To avoid being held in custody, many agree to onerous bail conditions or participate in pre-trial ‘alternatives’ like diversion or specialized courts. These programs require collaboration between courts and non-legal stakeholders, increasing demand for information sharing. To date, no one has studied how criminal defense lawyers negotiate these problem-solving practices – a gap my study addresses. I document and analyze how they work with marginalized clients with complex and intersecting issues (e.g., homelessness, mental health, substance use); how they manage social and therapeutic needs ‘with’ community practitioners while representing their clients’ rights; and how they use and contribute to legal narratives and court practices. I use a case study approach and employ four strategies: (i) observation in two provincial criminal courts, one in Ottawa, one in Toronto [e.g., bail court, drug treatment court], (ii) Semi-structured interviews with defense lawyers [N=40], (iii) Field work in local and provincial committee meetings, and; (iv) Analysis of documents that structure defense work (e.g., protocols, intake forms, and letters of community support). I document legal narratives and practices that are rarely examined, but have significant effects on defendants whose lives are structured by such interventions. Findings will be of interest to legal and human service professionals or academics interested in institutional partnerships and the governance of complex risks/needs. Findings will raise awareness of how current practices can undermine clients’ legal rights (e.g., to be tried within a reasonable time, to be presumed innocent). They also support national and international law and policy reform efforts, allowing professionals, policy makers and advocates to better understand the effects of criminal justice practices.