DiCioccio and Little on Comedy Colliding With the Courtroom @ProfLauraLittle @RachelDiCioccio

Rachel L. DiCioccio, University of Rhode Island, and Laura E. Little, Temple University School of Law, are publishing Comedy Collides with the Courtroom in volume 92 of the Temple Law Review Online (2020). Here is the abstract.

The adversarial system of litigation in many common law countries follows the model of a ritualized battle between opponents. Interspersed throughout the litigation process are inflection points where interpersonal conflict becomes particularly prominent. These conflicts are an integral part of the system’s design—with attorneys each acting independently to fulfill their professional obligation to advocate zealously for disputing clients.
How does humor operate in this system? Tracing an overview of key conflict points in the litigation process, this Article analyzes the effect of different humor types identified by communication scholars as having the effect of diffusing or exacerbating those conflicts. This Article describes real-life examples to illustrate how participants in the legal process (lawyers, clients, judges, and jurors) use aggressive humor, ad hominin humor, sarcasm, and affiliative humor. While some humor styles may soften and humanize the interpersonal interactions among the participants, the question arises whether other styles are more effective in achieving the system’s ultimate goal of obtaining legitimate, just, and fair dispute resolution. Questions further emerge about the circumstances when humor backfires and undermines the goals of litigation.

Download the article from SSRN at the link.