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The Pragmatism Of Interpretation: A Review Of Richard A. Posner, The Federal Judiciary, Amul R. Thapar, Benjamin Beaton Apr 2018

The Pragmatism Of Interpretation: A Review Of Richard A. Posner, The Federal Judiciary, Amul R. Thapar, Benjamin Beaton

Michigan Law Review

A review of Richard A. Posner, The Federal Judiciary.


International Judicial Practices: Opening The "Black Box" Of International Courts, Jeffrey L. Dunoff, Mark A. Pollack Jan 2018

International Judicial Practices: Opening The "Black Box" Of International Courts, Jeffrey L. Dunoff, Mark A. Pollack

Michigan Journal of International Law

This paper utilizes “practice theory” to identify and analyze the everyday practices of international judges, with particular focus on practices associated with judicial decision-making. Examining judicial practices illuminates a wide range of otherwise hidden activities that shape international judicial opinions; provides a pathway toward uncovering the subjective understandings that international judges attach to their own behaviors; and reveals underlying causal processes and mechanisms that influence tribunal decisions. By opening the “black box” of international courts, the practice turn permits us to shed light on their inner workings, and thereby enrich our understanding of these increasingly important bodies.


Corpus Linguistics: Misfire Or More Ammo For The Ordinary - Meaning Canon?, John D. Ramer Nov 2017

Corpus Linguistics: Misfire Or More Ammo For The Ordinary - Meaning Canon?, John D. Ramer

Michigan Law Review

Scholars and judges have heralded corpus linguistics—the study of language through collections of spoken or written texts—as a novel tool for statutory interpretation that will help provide an answer in the occasionally ambiguous search for “ordinary meaning” using dictionaries. In the spring of 2016, the Michigan Supreme Court became the first to use corpus linguistics in a majority opinion. The dissent also used it, however, and the two opinions reached different conclusions. In the first true test for corpus linguistics, the answer seemed to be just as ambiguous as before.

This result calls into question the utility of ...


Criminal Certification: Restoring Comity In The Categorical Approach, Joshua Rothenberg Nov 2017

Criminal Certification: Restoring Comity In The Categorical Approach, Joshua Rothenberg

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Federal sentencing enhancements force federal courts to delve into the world of substantive state criminal law. Does a state assault statute require violent force or just offensive touching? Does a state burglary statute that criminalizes breaking into a car or a house require prosecutors to charge the location entered as an element? Whether a person with prior convictions convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) faces a minimum sentence of fifteen years and a maximum of life imprisonment rather than a maximum sentence of ten years turns upon the answers to these questions. Yet, state law often does ...


Rethinking Criminal Contempt, John A.E. Pottow, Jason S. Levin May 2017

Rethinking Criminal Contempt, John A.E. Pottow, Jason S. Levin

Articles

It is of course too early to tell whether we are in a new era of bankruptcy judge (dis)respectability. Only time will tell. But this Article performs a specific case study, on one discrete area of bankruptcy court authority, based upon a particular assumption in that regard. The assumption is this: certain high-salience judicial events-here, the recent Supreme Court bankruptcy judge decisions, coupled with earlier constitutional precedents involving the limits of Article III-can trigger overreaction and hysteria. Lower courts may read these Supreme Court decisions as calling into question the permissibility of certain bankruptcy court practices under the Constitution ...


Rethinking Criminal Contempt In The Bankruptcy Courts, John A. E. Pottow, Jason S. Levin Mar 2017

Rethinking Criminal Contempt In The Bankruptcy Courts, John A. E. Pottow, Jason S. Levin

Law & Economics Working Papers

A surprising number of courts believe that bankruptcy judges lack authority to impose criminal contempt sanctions. We attempt to rectify this misunderstanding with a march through the historical treatment of contempt-like powers in bankruptcy, the painful statutory history of the 1978 Bankruptcy Code (including the exciting history of likely repealed 28 U.S.C. § 1481), and the various apposite rules of procedure. (Fans of the All Writs Act will delight in its inclusion.) But the principal service we offer to the bankruptcy community is dismantling the ubiquitous and persistent belief that there is some form of constitutional infirmity with "mere ...


Judge Gorsuch And Johnson Resentencing (This Is Not A Joke), Leah M. Litman Jan 2017

Judge Gorsuch And Johnson Resentencing (This Is Not A Joke), Leah M. Litman

Michigan Law Review Online

Jan Crawford has reported that President Donald Trump is strongly considering appointing Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to the U.S. Supreme Court. I do not know Judge Gorsuch, but I do know his opinion in Prost v. Anderson, which is a rather wonky case on a somewhat technical area of federal habeas law. Prost provides an interesting insight into Judge Gorsuch’s jurisprudence. The case concerns an issue on which the courts of appeals disagree, so it provides a nice glimpse into how Judge Gorsuch might address matters that are ...


Judge Posner's Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman Apr 2015

Judge Posner's Simple Law, Mitchell N. Berman

Michigan Law Review

The world is complex, Richard Posner observes in his most recent book, Reflections on Judging. It follows that, for judges to achieve “sensible” resolutions of real-world disputes—by which Judge Posner means “in a way that can be explained in ordinary language and justified as consistent with the expectations of normal people” (p. 354)—they must be able to navigate the world’s complexity successfully. To apply legal rules correctly and (where judicial lawmaking is called for) to formulate legal rules prudently, judges must understand the causal mechanisms and processes that undergird complex systems, and they must be able to ...


A Conversation With Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court Of The United States, University Of Michigan Law School Jan 2015

A Conversation With Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Of The Supreme Court Of The United States, University Of Michigan Law School

Event Materials

Program for the 2015 Tanner Lecture on Human Values on February 6, 2015, sponsored by the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Michigan LSA Department of Philosophy.


Jury Voting Paradoxes, Jason Iuliano Dec 2014

Jury Voting Paradoxes, Jason Iuliano

Michigan Law Review

The special verdict is plagued by two philosophical paradoxes: the discursive dilemma and the lottery paradox. Although widely discussed in the philosophical literature, these paradoxes have never been applied to jury decision making. In this Essay, I use the paradoxes to show that the special verdict’s vote-reporting procedures can lead judges to render verdicts that the jurors themselves would reject. This outcome constitutes a systemic breakdown that should not be tolerated in a legal system that prides itself on the fairness of its jury decision-making process. Ultimately, I argue that, because the general verdict with answers to written questions ...


Judicial Independence And Social Welfare, Michael D. Gilbert Feb 2014

Judicial Independence And Social Welfare, Michael D. Gilbert

Michigan Law Review

Judicial independence is a cornerstone of American constitutionalism. It empowers judges to check the other branches of government and resolve cases impartially and in accordance with law. Yet independence comes with a hazard. Precisely because they are independent, judges can ignore law and pursue private agendas. For two centuries, scholars have debated those ideas and the underlying tradeoff: independence versus accountability. They have achieved little consensus, in part because independence raises difficult antecedent questions. We cannot decide how independent to make a judge until we agree on what a judge is supposed to do. That depends on one’s views ...


The Danger Of Nonrandom Case Assignment: How The Southern District Of New York's "Related Cases" Rule Shaped Stop-And-Frisk Rulings, Katherine A. Macfarlane Jan 2014

The Danger Of Nonrandom Case Assignment: How The Southern District Of New York's "Related Cases" Rule Shaped Stop-And-Frisk Rulings, Katherine A. Macfarlane

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

The Southern District of New York’s local rules are clear: “[A]ll active judges . . . shall be assigned substantially an equal share of the categories of cases of the court over a period of time.” Yet for the past fourteen years, Southern District Judge Shira Scheindlin has been granted near-exclusive jurisdiction over one category of case: those involving wide-sweeping constitutional challenges to the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) stop-and-frisk policies. In 1999, Judge Scheindlin was randomly assigned Daniels v. City of New York, the first in a series of high-profile and high-impact stop-and-frisk cases. Since then, she has overseen ...


Reflections On The End Of The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, Aaron L. Nielson Aug 2013

Reflections On The End Of The Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan, Aaron L. Nielson

Michigan Law Review First Impressions

As applicants, federal judges, and law school career counselors everywhere frantically come to terms with the new clerkship landscape, one truth is inescapable: the Federal Law Clerk Hiring Plan ("the Plan") is dead. On January 29, 2013, the D.C. Circuit-the Plan's last and best defender-announced that it would no longer follow the Plan. The consequences of that announcement have been swift. For the last several months, months earlier than almost anyone expected, untold numbers of federal judges across the country have been rushing to hire law clerks. For these judges, the unregulated clerkship market of the pre-Plan era ...


Mandatory Sentencing And Racial Disparity, Assessing The Role Of Prosecutors And The Effects Of Booker, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi Jan 2013

Mandatory Sentencing And Racial Disparity, Assessing The Role Of Prosecutors And The Effects Of Booker, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi

Articles

This Article presents new empirical evidence concerning the effects of United States v. Booker, which loosened the formerly mandatory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, on racial disparities in federal criminal cases. Two serious limitations pervade existing empirical literature on sentencing disparities. First, studies focus on sentencing in isolation, controlling for the “presumptive sentence” or similar measures that themselves result from discretionary charging, plea-bargaining, and fact-finding processes. Any disparities in these earlier processes are excluded from the resulting sentence-disparity estimates. Our research has shown that this exclusion matters: pre-sentencing decision-making can have substantial sentence-disparity consequences. Second, existing studies have used loose causal ...


On Estimating Disparity And Inferring Causation: Sur-Reply To The U.S. Sentencing Commission Staff, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi Jan 2013

On Estimating Disparity And Inferring Causation: Sur-Reply To The U.S. Sentencing Commission Staff, Sonja B. Starr, M. Marit Rehavi

Articles

In this Essay, Professors Starr and Rehavi respond to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s empirical staff’s criticisms of their recent article, which found, contrary to the Commission’s prior work, no evidence that racial disparity in sentences increased in response to United States v. Booker. As Starr and Rehavi suggest, their differences with the Commission perhaps relate to differing objectives. The Commission staff’s reply expresses a lack of interest in identifying Booker’s causal effects; in contrast, that is Starr and Rehavi’s central objective. In addition, Starr and Rehavi’s approach also accounts for disparities arising ...


Antitrust And The Judicial Virtues, Daniel A. Crane Jan 2013

Antitrust And The Judicial Virtues, Daniel A. Crane

Articles

Although commentators frequently debate how judges should decide antitrust cases substantively, little attention has been paid to theories of judicial virtue in antitrust decision making. This essay considers four pairings of virtues: (1) striving for substantive purity versus conceding to institutional realism; (2) incrementalism versus generalism; (3) presenting a unified face versus candidly conceding differences among judges on an appellate panel; and (4) adhering strictly to stare decisis versus freely updating precedents to reflect evolving economic learning or conditions. While recognizing the complexities that sometimes pull judges in the opposite direction, this Article gives the nod to institutional realism, incrementalism ...


Discretionary (In)Justice: The Exercise Of Discretion In Claims For Asylum, Kate Aschenbrenner Apr 2012

Discretionary (In)Justice: The Exercise Of Discretion In Claims For Asylum, Kate Aschenbrenner

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Section 208(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that asylum may be granted to an applicant who meets the definition of a refugee-that is, someone who has been persecuted or has a well-founded fear of future persecution in her own country on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Asylum is a discretionary form of relief which means that the United States government is not required to grant asylum to every refugee within the United States but instead may decide whether or not to do so. This Article sets out in ...


Text(Plus-Other-Stuff)Ualism:Textualists' Perplexing Use Of The Attorney General's Manual On The Administrative Procedure Act, K. M. Lewis Jan 2012

Text(Plus-Other-Stuff)Ualism:Textualists' Perplexing Use Of The Attorney General's Manual On The Administrative Procedure Act, K. M. Lewis

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law

Textualist judges, such as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, are well known for their outspoken, adamant refusal to consult legislative history and its analogues when interpreting ambiguous provisions of statutory terms. Nevertheless, in administrative law cases, textualist judges regularly quote the Attorney General’s Manual on the Administrative Procedure Act, an unenacted Department of Justice document that shares all the characteristics of legislative history that textualists find odious: unreliability, bias, and failure to pass through the bicameralism and presentment processes mandated by the U.S. Constitution. As a result, judges that rely on the Manual in administrative law ...


Fill The Bench And Empty The Docket: Filibuster Reform For District Court Nominations, Jeremy Garson Jan 2012

Fill The Bench And Empty The Docket: Filibuster Reform For District Court Nominations, Jeremy Garson

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform Caveat

Judges are, without question, vital to our justice system. They interpret, adapt, and apply the law. They resolve disputes for the parties to the case at issue and provide guidance to others in analogous situations. They are the gears that keep the wheels of justice moving. Unfortunately, in the case of our federal courts, many of these gears are missing. Eighty-three of our 874 federal judgeships are vacant, including thirty-four that have been declared “judicial emergencies.” Our Constitution vests the President with the power to nominate federal judges and the Senate with the power to confirm or reject them, and ...


Our Broken Misdemeanor Justice System: Its Problems And Some Potential Solutions, Eve Brensike Primus Jan 2012

Our Broken Misdemeanor Justice System: Its Problems And Some Potential Solutions, Eve Brensike Primus

Reviews

Although misdemeanors comprise an overwhelming majority of state criminal court cases, little judicial and scholarly attention has been focused on how misdemeanor courts actually operate. In her article, Misdemeanors, Alexandra Natapoff rights this wrong and explains how the low-visibility, highly discretionary decisions made by actors at the misdemeanor level often result in rampant discrimination, incredible inefficiency, and vast miscarriages of justice. Misdemeanors makes a significant contribution to the literature by refocusing attention on the importance of misdemeanor offenses and beginning an important dialogue about what steps should be taken going forward to fix our broken misdemeanor justice system.


The Federal Sentencing Guidelines: A Misplaced Trust In Mechanical Justice, Evangeline A. Zimmerman May 2010

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines: A Misplaced Trust In Mechanical Justice, Evangeline A. Zimmerman

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

In 1984 the Sentencing Reform Act was passed, ending fully discretionary sentencing by judges and allowing for the creation of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines ("FSG" or "Guidelines"). This Note proposes that the Guidelines failed not only because they ran afoul of the Sixth Amendment, as determined by the Supreme Court in 2005, but also because they lacked a clear underlying purpose, had a misplaced trust in uniformity, and were born of political compromise. Moreover, the effect of the FSG was to blindly shunt discretionary decisions from judges, who are supposed to be neutral parties, to prosecutors, who are necessarily partisan ...


A Review Of Richard A. Posner, How Judges Think (2008), Jeffrey S. Sutton Jan 2010

A Review Of Richard A. Posner, How Judges Think (2008), Jeffrey S. Sutton

Michigan Law Review

I was eager to enter the judiciary. I liked the title: federal judge. I liked the job security: life tenure. And I could tolerate the pay: the same as Richard Posner's. That, indeed, may have been the most flattering part of the opportunity-that I could hold the same title and have the same pay grade as one of America's most stunning legal minds. Don't think I didn't mention it when I had the chance. There is so much to admire about Judge Posner-his lively pen, his curiosity, his energy, his apparent understanding of: everything. He has ...


How Should We Study District Judge Decision-Making?, Margo Schlanger, Pauline T. Kim, Christina L. Boyd, Andrew D. Martin Jan 2009

How Should We Study District Judge Decision-Making?, Margo Schlanger, Pauline T. Kim, Christina L. Boyd, Andrew D. Martin

Articles

Understanding judicial decision-making requires attention to the specific institutional settings in which judges operate. The choices available to judges are determined not only by the law and facts of the case but also by procedural context. The incentives and constraints shaping judges’ decision-making will vary depending on, for example, whether they have a life-appointment or are elected; whether they hear cases alone or with colleagues; and whether and under what circumstances their decisions might be altered, overturned, or undone by the actions of others. The basic insight that the institutional context matters has led to increasingly sophisticated studies of how ...


From Bush V. Gore To Namudno: A Response To Professor Amar, Ellen D. Katz Jan 2009

From Bush V. Gore To Namudno: A Response To Professor Amar, Ellen D. Katz

Articles

In his Dunwody Lecture, Professor Akhil Amar invites us to revisit the Bush v. Gore controversy and consider what went wrong. This short essay responds to Professor Amar by taking up his invitation and looking at the decision through a seemingly improbable lens, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last June in Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No. One (NAMUDNO) v. Holder. Among its many surprises, NAMUDNO helps illuminate the Court’s fundamental error nine years ago. Professor Amar forcefully argues that the mistrust with which the Justices in the Bush v. Gore majority viewed the Florida Supreme Court ...


Practice Makes Perfect? An Empirical Study Of Claim Construction Reversal Rates In Patent Cases, David L. Schwartz Nov 2008

Practice Makes Perfect? An Empirical Study Of Claim Construction Reversal Rates In Patent Cases, David L. Schwartz

Michigan Law Review

This Article examines whether U.S. district court judges improve their skills at patent claim construction with experience, including the experience of having their own cases reviewed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In theory, higher courts teach doctrine to lower courts via judicial decisions, and lower courts learn from these decisions. This Article tests the teaching-and-learning premise on the issue of claim construction in the realities of patent litigation. While others have shown that the Federal Circuit reverses a large percentage of lower court claim constructions, no one has analyzed whether judges with more claim construction ...


Judicial Compensation And The Definition Of Judicial Power In The Early Republic, James E. Pfander Jan 2008

Judicial Compensation And The Definition Of Judicial Power In The Early Republic, James E. Pfander

Michigan Law Review

Article III's provision for the compensation of federal judges has been much celebrated for the no-diminution provision that forecloses judicial pay cuts. But other features of Article Ill's compensation provision have largely escaped notice. In particular, little attention has been paid to the framers' apparent expectation that Congress would compensate federal judges with salaries alone, payable from the treasury at stated times. Article III's presumption in favor of salary-based compensation may rule out fee-based compensation, which was a common form of judicial compensation in England and the colonies but had grown controversial by the time of the ...


Concurring In Part & Concurring In The Confusion, Sonja R. West Aug 2006

Concurring In Part & Concurring In The Confusion, Sonja R. West

Michigan Law Review

When a federal appellate court decided last year that two reporters must either reveal their confidential sources to a grand jury or face jail time, the court did not hesitate in relying on the majority opinion in the Supreme Court's sole comment on the reporter's privilege-Branzburg v. Hayes. "The Highest Court has spoken and never revisited the question. Without doubt, that is the end of the matter," Judge Sentelle wrote for the three-judge panel of the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. By this declaration, the court dismissed with a wave of its judicial hand ...


The Color Of Perspective: Affirmative Action And The Constitutional Rhetoric Of White Innocence, Cecil J. Hunt Ii Jan 2006

The Color Of Perspective: Affirmative Action And The Constitutional Rhetoric Of White Innocence, Cecil J. Hunt Ii

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This Article discusses the Supreme Court's use of the rhetoric of White innocence in deciding racially-inflected claims of constitutional shelter. It argues that the Court's use of this rhetoric reveals its adoption of a distinctly White-centered perspective, representing a one-sided view of racial reality that distorts the Court's ability to accurately appreciate the true nature of racial reality in contemporary America. This Article examines the Court's habit of using a White-centered perspective in constitutional race cases. Specifically, it looks at the Court's use of the rhetoric of White innocence in the context of the Court ...


Bayes' Law, Sequential Uncertainties, And Evidence Of Causation In Toxic Tort Cases, Neal C. Stout, Peter A. Valberg Jul 2005

Bayes' Law, Sequential Uncertainties, And Evidence Of Causation In Toxic Tort Cases, Neal C. Stout, Peter A. Valberg

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Judges are the gatekeepers of evidence. Arguably, the most difficult duty for a judicial gatekeeper is to screen the reliability of expert opinions in scientific fields such as medicine that are beyond the ken of most judges. Yet, judges have a duty to scrutinize such expert opinion evidence to determine its reliability and admissibility. In toxic tort cases, the issue of causation-whether the alleged exposures actually caused the plaintiffs injury-is nearly always the central dispute, and determining admissibility of expert causation opinion is a daunting challenge for most judges. We present a comprehensive review of the courts' struggles with the ...


Decline Of Title Vii Disparate Impact: The Role Of The 1991 Civil Rights Act And The Ideologies Of Federal Judges, Michael J. Songer Jan 2005

Decline Of Title Vii Disparate Impact: The Role Of The 1991 Civil Rights Act And The Ideologies Of Federal Judges, Michael J. Songer

Michigan Journal of Race and Law

This study employs various statistical techniques to test the efficacy of the 1991 Civil Rights Act in moderating the highly restrictive disparate impact regime imposed by Wards Cove, and to evaluate the hypothesis that political ideology should be a more powerful predictor of case outcomes following the 1991 Act. Part I of the paper describes the evolution of disparate impact doctrine from 1971 to the present. Part II analyzes data from randomly selected disparate impact cases brought by African American plaintiffs and finds that the current disparate impact doctrine emanating from the 1991 Civil Rights Act dramatically decreases the likelihood ...