Book Review: Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts

Book Review: Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts.

One of the most persistent questions in the fight against crime is the reason why people comply with the authority. This question has formed the basis of social inquiry for many authorities across different divides. Tom R Tyler, together with Yuen J Huo, made significant contributions to understand the above question and various interrelated aspects of legitimacy, fairness, and cooperation. In their book, Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation with the Police and Courts, the two authors seek to explain the reason why people willingly comply with legal systems. They state that the means by which compliance can be achieved is through the threat of sanctions, which would accompany non-compliance. The deterrence method, which is supported by Tyler and Huo, is less favorable than making individuals comply without any coercion. The central thesis in their book is that the willingness of people to comply is dependent on a strong sense that the legal authorities are legitimate. The aspect of legitimacy is on the other hand dependent on the ideology that justice officials work within fair procedures in a predictable and trustworthy fashion.

The Thesis of Tyler’s and Huo book is cardinally based on findings that emanated from a telephone survey of 1,656 residents of Oakland and Los-Angeles. The study was carried out in 1998; it oversampled the minority groups (Tyler & Huo, 2002). In the study, people are interviewed in regards to several aspects of their experience, these include their favorability; fairness of their outcome, fairness of the police decision making, fairness of police treatment, and the willingness to accept decisions that are made by the police. A study which had been done before Tyler and Huo’s study was referred to in the accentuation of the fundamental proposal  (Tyler & Huo, 2002). The special attention that was given to the minority groups in the study is a credible sign that the people, who have been classified in the study, reported less positive experience with the authorities and did not trust them. The authors of the book propound that they did not succeed in reaching the high-risk subgroup of the minorities, who did not have a healthy relationship with the police. It can be argued that Tyler and Huo were immensely interested in learning whether race exerts an independent effect on the assessments of legitimate encounters with the justice officials (Tyler & Huo, 2002). However, the two authors’ propound that this non-aligned impact is not in existence; the cardinal point remains appraisal of fairness and trustworthiness in the criminal justice system.

Tyler and Huo’s fundamental center is in the collaborations between power authorities and people, and the way the practices of the authorities assemble and disintegrate institutional legitimacy (Roberts & Hough, 2002). Nonetheless, there are other more unpredictable estimations to legitimacy. As Beetham (2010) contends that people confer legitimacy on different institutions, not simply because they adhere to the standards of what can be considered as good behaviors, but because they regard the institutions as representatives of particular normative and ethical behaviors (Beetham, 2010). Hence, in light of this belief system, presenting legitimacy on an establishment can be seen as a demonstration that depends on the outflow of the common estimations of good arrangement. Institutional legitimacy does not flow from the factors, such as procedural fairness, but from the public perception that the criminal justice has a moral position (Shaw & Brannan, 2009).

However, this does not imply that the criminal justice system should enforce laws that all the citizens agree with, rather, it is important for the criminal justice systems to demonstrate moral authority by embodying a shared sense of what is right and what is wrong. As indicated by (Beetham, 2010), the feeling of good arrangement is essential as a segment of the authentic power.  With respect to the procedural equity demonstrate, the feeling of shared good position is imparted to individuals by the police, through the nature of their practices in the particular connections (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). The main question of concern in Tyler and Huo’s work is why people voluntarily defer the decisions that are made by the police officers, accepting those decisions willingly and feeling that they are supposed to obey them.

Huo and Tyler assert that legitimacy creates compliance with the law (Tyler & Huo, 2002). Their assertion is supported by Tyler (2003) who explains that legitimacy generate compliance with the law because people grant society the right to dictate the appropriate ways of behavior (Tyler, 2003). Individuals may differ on a number of laws; notwithstanding, they obey them on the grounds that they surmise that, conforming to the powers that made these laws is the best thing to do. The previous one decade has seen an extensive development in the comprehension of general society state of mind towards the authority (Roberts & Hough, 2002).  Methodological diverse empirical studies have indicated the significance of procedural justice methods in shaping compliance with the law and with the law enforcement. It is critical for the authorities to draw in communities in endeavors to battle wrongdoing. In any case, the engagement can just happen when the powers practice their methodology, as assessed by the general population (Hinds & Murphy, 2007).

Hough (2007 states that authenticity is a cardinal idea in procedural fairness (Hough, 2007). One vital distinction in this aspect is between the sense of justice that is based on process and the one that is based on the outcome. According to Tyler (2003) the procedural fairness that is respectful, is more significant to the public than having results, which the public may perceive as fair or favorable to themselves (Tyler, 2003). In other words, in the encounter with the authorities, it is the quality of the treatment that is received that is more important than the objectives or the outcome (Roberts & Hough, 2002). The procedural justice model of policing emphasize that people’s reaction to law enforcement are shaped by the evaluations of the fairness of the police and the courts. Specifically, individuals are more worried with whether distinctive choices are made through reasonable methodology and whether individuals are dealt with in interpersonal fairways when choices are being made (Tankebe, 2010).

Procedural equity creates faith in the authenticity of the police and the court frameworks trust in the police and the perspective that they should be obeyed (Hough, 2007). In consideration of this perspective, legitimacy is seen as a belief that has behavioral consequences. It actuates individuals to concede to the powers and to take part in willful participation with the police. The past studies recommend that the procedural equity framework clarifies the general population collaboration better when contrasted with a model that accepts that individuals make participation judgments, in view of their perspectives about the peripheral expected expenses, or the advantages of the participation (Shaw & Brannan, 2009). Procedural justice model creates a powerful platform for the purpose of describing the responses of both the majority and the minority group.

Tyler and Huo (Tyler and Huo, 2002) coordinate the psychological aspects of thought process which are based on trust and procedural equity inside the more extensive connection of the societal introductions. The authors contend that legitimacy and positive societal connections contribute more to the socially desirable rule that follows behaviors. Societal orientations, for example, legitimacy have a positive influence on the decision acceptance (Tyler & Huo, 2002). The public has a tendency to generalize from their personal experiences in regards to the legal actors, this helps mold the perceptions of the legitimacy of law and the legal authorities. As noted by the authors, even when making general evaluations concerning the law and legal systems, the public procedural justice and the motive based trust has a significant influence (Roberts & Hough, 2002). When making the general evaluation of law and the legal system, it is important to note that the public procedural justice and the motive based trusts have a significant influence as will be seen below.

The police together with court structures are regarded as unmistakable leaders of social governance. As the most highly profiled institutions in the criminal justice systems, the police are defined for the purpose of stating what is right and what is wrong (Tyler & Huo, 2002). On the off chance that the police manhandle their forces, and wield their power in uncalled for ways, this will harm the people’s feeling of commitment to comply with their mandates. It can likewise harm individuals feeling of commitment to comply with their orders (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). The trust of the police and the court frameworks is an extremely solid pointer of the apparent authenticity that individuals have.

The experience of the procedural rationality creates the feelings of intention-based trust in the authorities who are concerned (Sunshine & Tyler, 2003). The manner in which those in authority treat people communicates vital information to them concerning their status in those particular groups. At the point when the police and the court framework furnish individuals with suitable status data through the procedural equity, then they will probably feel committed to the police and more inclined to feel adjusted to the moral and the ethical structure, which they accept is encapsulated by the police (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). This suggests they will likely see the police and courts as being genuine.

Police legitimacy is a capable sign of the role of consistence in developing compliance (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). A big deal of this statistical effect is mediated using cynicism. The techniques that the police use to wield their power create perceived legitimacy, if the police treat individuals unreasonably, the process legitimacy endures and individuals get to be critical about the human instinct and the lawful procedure of equity. This makes individuals to see certain laws and standards as not socially tying (Sunshine & Tyler, 2003). Besides being satisfied with the results of a fair decision making process, people are likely to defer to decisions and judgments of an authority and comply with those judgments on the long run. The procedure justice of the decision making process, makes people to conclude that the decision making authorities, for example, the police and the courts are legitimate (Tyler T, 2007).

Many people may ask why it is important to care about how people end up feeling about the police and the court systems (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). As Tyler and Huo attest, the achievement in the powers is subject to the bolster given through people in general practices. Based on observational data, Tankebe (2010) asserts that the general public non-compliance when they are dealing with the police is about twenty two percent (Tankebe, 2010). The way of this sort of open conduct is reliant on how individuals see both the police and the court frameworks.


Irrespective of why people are in court, peoples’ reactions are strongly shaped by whether they think they have received a fair hearing in the sense that all their concerns have been addressed through a just system (Tyler & Huo, 2002). The notion that people are more concerned with the way their case is handled rather than if they will win or not, strikes many people as being counter intuitive and wrongheaded, yet it is the consistent finding of numerous studies that have been conducted in the last several decades (Tyler & Huo, 2002).

People utilize procedural fairness for the purpose of evaluating their experiences; they focus on the comparisons of the different experiences together with their views on how different authorities are supposed to behave when making decision on how to resolve the legal challenges facing them (Tyler & Huo, 2002). The concern about receiving fair procedure does not imply that people do not care about the outcomes of their cases, however, the procedural fairness judgments are more central to the people’s willingness to accept the outcome of the court cases than the outcome judgments. This issue is true with the cases handled through the formal tries as well as those solved through the traditional methods, for example, mediation (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). A majority of people recognize the fact that in a dispute, not everybody can be able to have the outcome that they desire or feel they deserve. For this reason, they focus on whether the decisions about the outcomes are done in a fair way; fair process often leads to acceptable outcomes (Tankebe, 2010).

Tyler and Huo asserts that there are four factors that make a process to become fair in the eyes of the public, the four factors are the ones that dominate the evaluations of all the procedural fairness. First, numerous individuals need to have a chance to express their agendas to lawful authorities. They are interested in having a forum in which they can be able to have a voice (Front Matter, 2003). Many people react to the evidence that the authorities with whom they are dealing with are neutral, this often involves making decisions that are based on the consistently applied legal principles and the facts of a particular case, not their own opinion or even biases. The straightforwardness concerning how choices are made makes the convictions that the choice making procedure is neutral (Sunshine & Tyler, 2003).

People are immensely sensitive to whether they are treated with dignity and politeness and to whether their rights as the citizens of a particular country are well respected (Tyler T. , 2007). The aspect of interpersonal treatment hails as a cardinal factor in reactions that are aimed at how people treat the authorities. Many people believe that they should be treated with respect, for this reason, people are likely to dismiss or even demean the statements that appear to be interpersonal in nature (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). In many cases, people usually focus on the cues that tend to communicate significant information concerning the intentions and character of the legal authorities with whom they are dealing. A majority of individuals can respond positively to the judgments that, the authorities are ruling over them are aware of their challenges and that they are attempting to do what is best for everyone in the general population (Sunshine & Tyler, 2003). The authorities demonstrate this sort of concern when they listen to individuals and clarify or even legitimize some of their activities and worries, which are mainly rooted in their needs.

At the point when individuals get involved with the authorities, they tend to concentrate on whether they think the individual who is speaking on behalf of the authorities is dependable and minding. In many cases, people try to discern on whether they think the person they are dealing with is sincere and trying to do what is right to the situation. From this perspective, then trust can be seen as a key issue in the personal experiences with the judge and the court officials (Shaw & Brannan, 2009). If people do not get involved in a court case, they tend to turn their attention on the issue of neutrality; this implies probing whether the judges in the court case are honest and make decisions that are based on facts and apply relevant principles to anyone.

The most striking thing about the procedural fairness judgments is the fact that they shape the reactions of people who are both on the losing side of the cases (Roberts & Hough, 2002). If an individual who does not receive the outcome that they think is favorable or fair, feels that the outcome they received was arrived at in a fair way; then they are likely to accept it. Individuals who experience, procedural fairness in the courts rate the court personnel as being more favorable, this indicates higher levels of trust and confidence in the courts and the court systems (Hough, 2007). In consideration of Tyler and Huo texts, it is important for governments consider transformation of their policy.

Policies that encourage approaches to communities, especially the minority communities in which the public views are very important. The approach style that is used by the criminal justice framework ought to persuade the deliberate acknowledgment and the eager collaboration with respect to the general population  (Hinds & Murphy, 2007). The success in both the police and the court system will be enhanced when the police gain and maintain their support from the public. In consideration of the individual encounters that the police have with the residents, police can only benefit if people are willing to accept and defer to the appropriate use of the police authority. On the off chance that individuals build up a high regard for their neighborhood police and law, then they will probably comply with the law, including the moderately minor laws  (Shaw & Brannan, 2009).

In conclusion, the value of a based approach rests on the findings that legitimacy shapes people’s behavior. Individuals are more eager to participate with the police when individuals see the police as being genuine social powers. In the event that individuals see the police to be legitimate, then they are more eager to report violations in their neighborhood. The facet of procedural fairness is the focal element of legitimacy. A majority of individuals assesses the authenticity of the police and the courts as far as their judgments assess the reasonableness by which the courts and the police practice their power. Tyler and Huo book point directly to the value of the process based policing. Since procedural fairness encourages the view of authenticity, the more procedural reasonable, the lawful framework is, the more it is perceived as being true. The arguments made by Tyler and Huo have broader applications; they are first true of people’s dealings with the courts and the other governmental agencies. More broadly, they speak about the issues of incarcerations and corrections. The approaches and the acts of every one of these parts of the legitimate framework are made on the model of the systems utilized with the end goal of the regulations. This model can be supplemented through an approach that focuses on the issue of legitimacy.


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