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Balanced Judicial Realism In The Service Of Justice: Judge Richard D. Cudahy, Elizabeth Mertz, Cynthia Grant Bowman Jul 2018

Balanced Judicial Realism In The Service Of Justice: Judge Richard D. Cudahy, Elizabeth Mertz, Cynthia Grant Bowman

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

There is a quiet irony to be found in scholarly writings about the judiciary, which often center around high-profile jurists selected as the “great” judges. But there are great judges who do not receive or even want such widespread recognition, and who do not discuss their philosophy of judging—they simply focus on the job in front of them. Judges who operate with humility can often be very quiet about their legacies—brushing the issue off, as if uncomfortable with the attention. Anyone who knew Judge Richard D. Cudahy of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ...


Unprecedented? Judicial Confirmation Battles And The Search For A Usable Past, Josh Chafetz Nov 2017

Unprecedented? Judicial Confirmation Battles And The Search For A Usable Past, Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Recent years have seen intense conflicts over federal judicial appointments, culminating in Senate Republicans' 2016 refusal to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats' 2017 filibuster of Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the same seat, and Republicans' triggering of the "nuclear option" to confirm Gorsuch. At every stage in this process, political actors on both sides have accused one another of "unprecedented" behavior.

This Essay, written for the 2017 Supreme Court issue of the Harvard Law Review, examines these disputes and their histories, with an eye toward understanding the ways in which discussions of (un ...


Monsanto Lecture: The Complicated Business Of State Supreme Court Elections: An Empirical Perspective, Michael Heise Oct 2017

Monsanto Lecture: The Complicated Business Of State Supreme Court Elections: An Empirical Perspective, Michael Heise

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Proponents of judicial elections and related campaign activities emphasize existing First Amendment jurisprudence as well as similarities linking publicly elected state judges and other publicly-elected state officials. Opponents focus on judicial campaign contributions’ corrosive effects, including their potential to unduly influence judicial outcomes. Using a comprehensive data set of 2,345 business-related cases decided by state supreme courts across all fifty states between 2010–12, judicial election critics, including Professor Joanna Shepherd, emphasize the potential for bias and find that campaign contributions from business sources to state supreme court judicial candidates corresponded with candidates’ pro-business votes as justices. While Shepherd ...


Judging The Judiciary By The Numbers: Empirical Research On Judges, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Jan 2017

Judging The Judiciary By The Numbers: Empirical Research On Judges, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Do judges make decisions that are truly impartial? A wide range of experimental and field studies reveal that several extra-legal factors influence judicial decision making. Demographic characteristics of judges and litigants affect judges’ decisions. Judges also rely heavily on intuitive reasoning in deciding cases, making them vulnerable to the use of mental shortcuts that can lead to mistakes. Furthermore, judges sometimes rely on facts outside the record and rule more favorably towards litigants who are more sympathetic or with whom they share demographic characteristics. On the whole, judges are excellent decision makers, and sometimes resist common errors of judgment that ...


Exemplary Legal Writing 2016: Books Selected By Our Respectable Authorities: Five Recommendations, Femi Cadmus Jan 2017

Exemplary Legal Writing 2016: Books Selected By Our Respectable Authorities: Five Recommendations, Femi Cadmus

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Introduction To Juries And Mixed Tribunals Across The Globe: New Developments, Common Challenges And Future Directions, Nancy S. Marder, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2016

Introduction To Juries And Mixed Tribunals Across The Globe: New Developments, Common Challenges And Future Directions, Nancy S. Marder, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This introduction to the special issue of Oñati Socio-legal Series describes the goals of the conference on Juries and Mixed Tribunals across the Globe, and identifies themes that emerged as jury scholars from all over the world examined different forms of lay participation in legal decision-making. The introduction focuses on common challenges that different systems of lay participation face, including the selection of impartial fact finders and the presentation of complex cases to lay citizens. The introduction and special issue articles also highlight new developments and innovative practices to address these challenges, including some tools, like decision trees, that remain ...


Can Judges Make Reliable Numeric Judgments? Distorted Damages And Skewed Sentences, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Apr 2015

Can Judges Make Reliable Numeric Judgments? Distorted Damages And Skewed Sentences, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In a series of studies involving over six hundred trial judges in three countries, we demonstrate that trial judges' civil damage awards and criminal sentences are subject to influences that make them erratic. We found that the presence of misleading numeric reference points (or "anchors") affected judges' decisions in a series of hypothetical cases. Specifically, judges imposed shorter sentences when assigning sentences in months rather than in years; awarded higher amounts of compensatory damages when informed of a cap on damage awards; imposed different sentences depending upon the sequence in which criminal cases were presented to them; and were influenced ...


Reflections On The Korean Jury Trial, Valerie P. Hans Dec 2014

Reflections On The Korean Jury Trial, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Korea's experience with its new jury system offers many lessons for those interested in juries and jury reform worldwide. Aiming for a unique jury system that was ideally suited to Korean citizens and their legal system, those who crafted Korea's jury incorporated elements of both classic jury systems and mixed tribunals. Initially, the jury deliberates on guilt independently of the judge, but the procedure includes optional as well as mandatory opportunities for the presiding judge to advise the jury during its deliberation. The Korean jury delivers an advisory rather than binding jury verdict. These and other features of ...


Altering Attention In Adjudication, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Aug 2013

Altering Attention In Adjudication, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Judges decide complex cases in rapid succession but are limited by cognitive constraints. Consequently judges cannot allocate equal attention to every aspect of a case. Case outcomes might thus depend on which aspects of a case are particularly salient to the judge. Put simply, a judge focusing on one aspect of a case might reach a different outcome than a judge focusing on another. In this Article, we report the results of a series of studies exploring various ways in which directing judicial attention can shape judicial outcomes. In the first study, we show that judges impose shorter sentences when ...


Contrition In The Courtroom: Do Apologies Affect Adjudication?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Jul 2013

Contrition In The Courtroom: Do Apologies Affect Adjudication?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Apologies usually help to repair social relationships and appease aggrieved parties. Previous research has demonstrated that in legal settings, apologies influence how litigants and juries evaluate both civil and criminal defendants. Judges, however, routinely encounter apologies offered for instrumental reasons, such as to reduce a civil damage award or fine, or to shorten a criminal sentence. Frequent exposure to insincere apologies might make judges suspicious of or impervious to apologies. In a series of experimental studies with judges as research participants, we find that in some criminal settings, apologies can induce judges to be more lenient, but overall, apologizing to ...


Free Exercise Of Religion Before The Bench: Empirical Evidence From The Federal Courts, Michael Heise, Gregory C. Sisk Feb 2013

Free Exercise Of Religion Before The Bench: Empirical Evidence From The Federal Courts, Michael Heise, Gregory C. Sisk

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

We analyze various factors that influence judicial decisions in cases involving Free Exercise Clause or religious accommodation claims and decided by lower federal courts. Religious liberty claims, including those moored in the Free Exercise Clause, typically generate particularly difficult questions about how best to structure the sometimes contentious relation between the religious faithful and the sovereign government. Such difficult questions arise frequently in and are often framed by litigation. Our analyses include all digested Free Exercise and religious accommodation claim decisions by federal court of appeals and district court judges from 1996 through 2005. As it relates to one key ...


Women In Robes, Sital Kalantry Jul 2012

Women In Robes, Sital Kalantry

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article presents statistics on the number of women in the judiciary and argues for gender parity to further equality, enhance courts' legitimacy, and strengthen the rule of law.


Special Feature: The Future Of Lay Adjudication In Korea And Japan, Hiroshi Fukurai, Valerie P. Hans May 2012

Special Feature: The Future Of Lay Adjudication In Korea And Japan, Hiroshi Fukurai, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Three years after Korea introduced the jury system for the first time in its history, and two years following the Japanese introduction of a mixed court in which citizen and professional judges decide serious criminal cases, the Second East Asian Law and Society Conference was held on September 30th and October 1st, 2011 in the vibrant city of Seoul, South Korea. This Special Issue of the Yonsei Law Journal offers an opportunity to present work on some of the key issues that were discussed and debated at this remarkable conference. In particular, the special issue offers new research on the ...


Actual Versus Perceived Performance Of Judges, Theodore Eisenberg, Talia Fisher, Issi Rosen-Zvi Apr 2012

Actual Versus Perceived Performance Of Judges, Theodore Eisenberg, Talia Fisher, Issi Rosen-Zvi

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Coming Off The Bench: Legal And Policy Implications Of Proposals To Allow Retired Justices To Sit By Designation On The Supreme Court, Lisa T. Mcelroy, Michael C. Dorf Oct 2011

Coming Off The Bench: Legal And Policy Implications Of Proposals To Allow Retired Justices To Sit By Designation On The Supreme Court, Lisa T. Mcelroy, Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In the fall of 2010, Senator Patrick Leahy introduced a bill that would have overridden a New Deal-era federal statute forbidding retired Justices from serving by designation on the Supreme Court of the United States. The Leahy bill would have authorized the Court to recall willing retired Justices to substitute for recused Justices. This Article uses the Leahy bill as a springboard for considering a number of important constitutional and policy questions, including whether the possibility of 4-4 splits justifies the substitution of a retired Justice for an active one; whether permitting retired Justices to substitute for recused Justices would ...


Sequencing The Issues For Judicial Decisionmaking: Limitations From Jurisdictional Primacy And Intrasuit Preclusion, Kevin M. Clermont Apr 2011

Sequencing The Issues For Judicial Decisionmaking: Limitations From Jurisdictional Primacy And Intrasuit Preclusion, Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Article treats the order of decision on multiple issues in a single case. That order can be very important, with a lot at stake for the court, society, and parties. Generally speaking, although the parties can control which issues they put before a judge, the judge gets to choose the decisional sequence in light of those various interests.

The law sees fit to put few limits on the judge's power to sequence. The few limits are, in fact, quite narrow in application, and even narrower if properly understood. The Steel Co.-Ruhrgas rule generally requires a federal court ...


Majoritarian Difficulty And Theories Of Constitutional Decision Making, Michael C. Dorf Dec 2010

Majoritarian Difficulty And Theories Of Constitutional Decision Making, Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Recent scholarship in political science and law challenges the view that judicial review in the United States poses what Alexander Bickel famously called the "counter-majoritarian difficulty." Although courts do regularly invalidate state and federal action on constitutional grounds, they rarely depart substantially from the median of public opinion. When they do so depart, if public opinion does not eventually come in line with the judicial view, constitutional amendment, changes in judicial personnel, and/or changes in judicial doctrine typically bring judicial understandings closer to public opinion. But if the modesty of courts dissolves Bickel's worry, it raises a distinct ...


"Our Cities Institutions" And The Institution Of The Common Law, Bernadette Meyler Jul 2010

"Our Cities Institutions" And The Institution Of The Common Law, Bernadette Meyler

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The audiences of early modern English drama were multiple, and they intersected with the legal system in various ways, whether through the cross-pollination of the theaters and the Inns of Court, the representations of the sovereign’s justice performed before him, or the shared evidentiary orientations of jurors and spectators. As this piece written for a symposium on “Reasoning from Literature” contends, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure addressed to these various audiences the question of whether the King should judge in person. In doing so, it drew on extant political theories suggesting that the King refrain from exposing himself to ...


Japan's New Lay Judge System: Deliberative Democracy In Action?, Zachary Corey, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2010

Japan's New Lay Judge System: Deliberative Democracy In Action?, Zachary Corey, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


The "Hidden Judiciary": An Empirical Examination Of Executive Branch Justice, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Apr 2009

The "Hidden Judiciary": An Empirical Examination Of Executive Branch Justice, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Administrative law judges attract little scholarly attention, yet they decide a large fraction of all civil disputes. In this Article, we demonstrate that these executive branch judges, like their counterparts in the judicial branch, tend to make predominantly intuitive rather than predominantly deliberative decisions. This finding sheds new light on executive branch justice by suggesting that judicial intuition, not judicial independence, is the most significant challenge facing these important judicial officers.


Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Sheri Johnson, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Mar 2009

Does Unconscious Racial Bias Affect Trial Judges?, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Sheri Johnson, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Race matters in the criminal justice system. Black defendants appear to fare worse than similarly situated white defendants. Why? Implicit bias is one possibility. Researchers, using a well-known measure called the implicit association test, have found that most white Americans harbor implicit bias toward Black Americans. Do judges, who are professionally committed to egalitarian norms, hold these same implicit biases? And if so, do these biases account for racially disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system? We explored these two research questions in a multi-part study involving a large sample of trial judges drawn from around the country. Our results ...


Original Sin And Judicial Independence: Providing Accountability For Justices, Paul D. Carrington, Roger C. Cramton Mar 2009

Original Sin And Judicial Independence: Providing Accountability For Justices, Paul D. Carrington, Roger C. Cramton

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


The Verdict On Juries, Valerie P. Hans, Neil Vidmar Apr 2008

The Verdict On Juries, Valerie P. Hans, Neil Vidmar

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In reviewing debates and research evidence about jury trials for our book, American Juries: The Verdict (Prometheus Books, 2007), we have had the chance to reflect on the status of the jury system in the United States. High profile jury trials put the spotlight on the American practice of using its citizens as decision makers. When jury verdicts are at odds with public opinion, criticisms of the institution are common. The civil jury has been a lightning rod for those who want tort reform. This article draws together some of our reflections about the health of the jury system and ...


Impartiality In Judicial Ethics: A Jurisprudential Analysis, W. Bradley Wendel Jan 2008

Impartiality In Judicial Ethics: A Jurisprudential Analysis, W. Bradley Wendel

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Blinking On The Bench: How Judges Decide Cases, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Nov 2007

Blinking On The Bench: How Judges Decide Cases, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

How do judges judge? Do they apply law to facts in a mechanical and deliberative way, as the formalists suggest they do, or do they rely on hunches and gut feelings, as the realists maintain? Debate has raged for decades, but researchers have offered little hard evidence in support of either model. Relying on empirical studies of judicial reasoning and decision making, we propose an entirely new model of judging that provides a more accurate explanation of judicial behavior. Our model accounts for the tendency of the human brain to make automatic, snap judgments, which are surprisingly accurate, but which ...


Reforming The Supreme Court, Roger C. Cramton Oct 2007

Reforming The Supreme Court, Roger C. Cramton

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Life tenure for Supreme Court Justices has had harmful consequences that could not have been foreseen by the Founders. The seriousness of these harms makes it necessary and proper to use the hindsight we enjoy today to correct them. This Article begins with a brief summary of the constitutional provisions relevant to judicial tenure and examines how the system of life tenure functions today. The harmful consequences of life tenure are then examined, leading to the conclusion that a statutory solution is required. The article then proposes such a solution and examines its constitutionality, concluding that language, history and purpose ...


Does Federal Executive Branch Experience Explain Why Some Republican Supreme Court Justices "Evolve" And Others Don't?, Michael C. Dorf Jun 2007

Does Federal Executive Branch Experience Explain Why Some Republican Supreme Court Justices "Evolve" And Others Don't?, Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Why do some Republican Supreme Court Justices evolve over time, becoming more liberal than they were - or at least more liberal than they were generally thought likely to be - when they were appointed, while others prove to be every bit as conservative as expected? Although idiosyncratic factors undoubtedly play some role, for every Republican nominee since President Nixon took office, federal executive branch service has been a reliable predictor. Nominees without it have proved moderate or liberal, while those with it have been steadfastly conservative.

This Essay demonstrates the correlation for all twelve Republican appointees during this period and hypothesizes ...


Whose Ox Is Being Gored? When Attitudinalism Meets Federalism, Michael C. Dorf Apr 2007

Whose Ox Is Being Gored? When Attitudinalism Meets Federalism, Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Empirical research indicates that factors such as an individual Justice's general political ideology play a substantial role in the decision of Supreme Court cases. Although this pattern holds in federalism cases, views about the proper allocation of authority between the state and federal governments - independent of whether the particular outcome in any given case is "liberal" or "conservative" - can sometimes be decisive, as demonstrated by the 2005 decision in Gonzales v. Raich, in which "conservative" Justices voted to invalidate a strict federal drug provision in light of California's legalization of medical marijuana, and "liberal" Justices voted to uphold ...


Heuristics And Biases In Bankruptcy Judges, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Mar 2007

Heuristics And Biases In Bankruptcy Judges, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Do specialized judges make better decisions than judges who are generalists? Specialized judges surely come to know their area of law well, but specialization might also allow judges to develop better, more reliable ways of assessing cases. We assessed this question by presenting a group of specialized judges with a set of hypothetical cases designed to elicit a reliance on common heuristics that can lead judges to make poor decisions. Although the judges resisted the influence of some of these heuristics, they also expressed a clear vulnerability to others. These results suggest that specialization does not produce better judgment.


Judges, Juries, And Scientific Evidence, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2007

Judges, Juries, And Scientific Evidence, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The rise in scientific evidence offered in American jury trials, along with court rulings thrusting judges into the business of assessing the soundness of scientific evidence, have produced challenges for judge and jury alike. Many judges have taken up the duty of becoming “amateur scientists.” But what about juries? Surely they too could benefit from assistance as they attempt to master and apply complex testimony about scientific matters during the course of a trial. Concerns about the jury’s ability to understand, critically evaluate, and employ scientific evidence in deciding complex trials have led to many suggestions for reform.

This ...