Article by: Pam A. Mueller

44 PEPP. L. REV. 691 (2017)

This Article addresses an unexplored tension in the civil justice system regarding victims.  The goal of the civil system is to make victims whole.  We can, as is most common, attempt to do this financially, or we can consider psychological research that suggests there may be other ways of restoring victims’ statuses.  One of the most common nonfinancial solutions is to increase victim participation in the justice process.  This is a solution that appeals to many victims and may benefit them psychologically.  However, by increasing their participation, they may unknowingly trade off some of the benefits of victimhood.  For instance, they may be awarded less financial compensation and may even be blamed more for their own victimization.  Part II of this Article discusses financial and nonfinancial strategies for making victims whole in the civil justice system.  Part III addresses the paradoxical nature of victimhood in this system, and Part IV suggests that the psychological construct of agency may shed light on the issues victims face.  Part V presents three empirical studies suggesting there are unanticipated consequences for victims who play an active role in the justice process, which may have serious ramifications for their recovery.  The Article concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these results, the limitations of the current studies, and future directions for this line of research.

 

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