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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 ...


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.