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Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Judicial decision making

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Full-Text Articles in Legal History

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 ...


Inside The Bankruptcy Judge's Mind, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Dec 2006

Inside The Bankruptcy Judge's Mind, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In this paper, we extend our prior work on generalist judges to explore whether specialization leads to superior judicial decision making. To do so, we report the results of a study of federal bankruptcy judges. In one prior study of bankruptcy judges, Ted Eisenberg reported evidence suggesting that bankruptcy judges, like generalist judges, are susceptible to the "self-serving" or "egocentric" bias when making judgments. Here, we report evidence showing that bankruptcy judges are vulnerable to anchoring and framing effects, but appear largely unaffected by the omission bias, a debtor's race, a debtor's apology, and "terror management" or "mortality ...


Charting The Influences On The Judicial Mind: An Empirical Study Of Judicial Reasoning, Gregory C. Sisk, Michael Heise, Andrew P. Morriss Nov 1998

Charting The Influences On The Judicial Mind: An Empirical Study Of Judicial Reasoning, Gregory C. Sisk, Michael Heise, Andrew P. Morriss

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

In 1988, hundreds of federal district judges were suddenly confronted with the need to render a decision on the constitutionality of the Sentencing Reform Act and the newly promulgated criminal Sentencing Guidelines. Never before has a question of such importance and involving such significant issues of constitutional law mandated the immediate and simultaneous attention of such a large segment of the federal trial bench. Accordingly, this event provides an archetypal model for exploring the influence of social background, ideology, judicial role and institution, and other factors on judicial decisionmaking. Based upon a unique set of written decisions involving an identical ...