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Duke Law

Judicial process

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Finding Law, Stephen E. Sachs Jan 2019

Finding Law, Stephen E. Sachs

Faculty Scholarship

That the judge's task is to find the law, not to make it, was once a commonplace of our legal culture. Today, decades after Erie, the idea of a common law discovered by judges is commonly dismissed -- as a "fallacy," an "illusion," a "brooding omnipresence in the sky." That dismissive view is wrong. Expecting judges to find unwritten law is no childish fiction of the benighted past, but a real and plausible option for a modern legal system.

This Essay seeks to restore the respectability of finding law, in part by responding to two criticisms made by Erie and ...


Adjudicating Death: Professionals Or Politicians?, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati Jan 2017

Adjudicating Death: Professionals Or Politicians?, Stephen J. Choi, Mitu Gulati

Faculty Scholarship

Variation exists in how death examinations take place in the United States. In some counties and states decisions about autopsies and the issuance of death certificates are made by a local coroner who often needs nothing more than a high school diploma to run for election to the job of coroner. In other counties and states, an appointed medical professional performs the death examination. We provide preliminary tests of the difference in performance between death examination offices run by appointed medical professionals compared with elected coroners. We find that death examiner offices in elected coroner states are less likely to ...


How Bayesian Are Judges?, Jack Knight, Mitu Gulati, David F. Levi Jan 2016

How Bayesian Are Judges?, Jack Knight, Mitu Gulati, David F. Levi

Faculty Scholarship

Richard Posner famously modeled judges as Bayesians in his book, How Judges Think? A key element of being Bayesian is that one constantly updates with new information. This model of the judge who is constantly learning and updating, particularly about local conditions, also is one of the reasons why the factual determinations of trial judges are given deference on appeal. But do judges in fact act like Bayesian updaters? Judicial evaluations of search warrant requests for probable cause provides an ideal setting to examine this question because the judges in this context have access to information on how well they ...