We use the trial against Anders Behring Breivik as a case. Breivik placed a bomb in Norway’s Government District before he shot and killed 69 people on a small island. We analyze interviews with 31 victims who testified against Breivik in court. We argue that the circumstances of the trial against Breivik can be characterized as “ideal” in terms of victims’ rights. The exceptionality of this case facilitates a focus on unquestioned obstacles to victim participation concerning the professionalization of the legal system. We question the presumption prevalent among some theorists that the professionalization of the legal system excludes lay participation, by arguing that legal formality both alienate and empower lay participation.
In this article, we investigate how victims pursue legal participation when they are confronted by legal barriers and dilemmas that arise from tensions between legal formality and lay expectations and contributions of legal proceedings.