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(What We Talk About When We Talk About) Judicial Temperament, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2020

(What We Talk About When We Talk About) Judicial Temperament, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Judicial temperament is simultaneously the thing we think all judges must have and the thing that no one can quite put a finger on. Extant accounts are scattered and thin, and either present a laundry list of desirable judicial qualities without articulating what (if anything) unifies the list or treat temperament as a fundamentally mysterious quality that a judge either does or does not have. Resting so much—selection, evaluation, discipline, even removal—on such an indeterminate concept is intellectually and practically intolerable. Polarized debates over Justice Kavanaugh’s fitness to sit on the Supreme Court made clear just how ...


Empirically Investigating Judicial Emotion, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2019

Empirically Investigating Judicial Emotion, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The empirical study of judicial emotion has enormous but largely untapped potential to illuminate a previously underexplored aspect of judging, its processes, outputs, and impacts. After defining judicial emotion, this article proposes a theoretical taxonomy of approaches to its empirical exploration. It then presents and analyses extant examples of such research, with a focus on how the questions they ask fit within the taxonomy and the methods they use to answer those questions. It concludes by identifying areas for growth in the disciplined, data-based exploration of the many facets of judicial emotion.


Proposed Reforms To Texas Judicial Selection: Panelist Remarks, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2019

Proposed Reforms To Texas Judicial Selection: Panelist Remarks, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

I am going to set the stage by providing a little background about the various methods that States around the country use to select their judges. I am also going to remind us of many of the considerations that we like to think about when we are deciding which of these methods is best. And I am going to push upon you a new consideration that is sometimes not thought about in these discussions as well as share some data regarding this last consideration. But let’s start with some background about the selection methods.

There are basically four different ...


Justice Scalia And Class Actions, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2017

Justice Scalia And Class Actions, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

I have been asked to write an essay on Justice Scalia's class action jurisprudence and although I suspect many readers will find this surprising because the Justice is so often linked to constitutional law, I actually think that his class action jurisprudence may be where his opinions leave some of the biggest marks. To be as blunt about it as the Justice himself would have been: for better or for worse, I am not sure any other Justice of the Supreme Court in American history has done more to hinder the class action lawsuit than Justice Scalia did.

The ...


Judicial Politics And Decisionmaking: A New Approach, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski Jan 2017

Judicial Politics And Decisionmaking: A New Approach, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In twenty-five different experiments conducted on over 2,200 judges, we assessed whether judges' political ideology influences their resolution of hypothetical cases. Generally, we found that the political ideology of the judge matters, but only very little. Across a range of bankruptcy, criminal, and civil cases, we found that the aggregate effect of political ideology is either nonexistent or amounts to roughly onequarter of a standard deviation. Overall, the results of our experiments suggest that judges are not "politicians in robes."


The Ideological Consequences Of Selection: A Nationwide Study Of The Methods Of Selecting Judges, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2017

The Ideological Consequences Of Selection: A Nationwide Study Of The Methods Of Selecting Judges, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

One topic that has gone largely unexplored in the long debate over how best to select judges is whether there are any ideological consequences to employing one selection method versus another. The goal of this study is to assess whether certain methods of selection have resulted in judiciaries that skew to the left or right compared with the public at large in those states. In particular, I examine the ideological preferences of state appellate judges in all 50 states over a 20-year period (1990-2010) as measured by their relative affiliation with the Republican or Democratic Party through campaign contributions, voter ...


Parsing The Behavioral And Brain Mechanisms Of Third-Party Punishment, Owen D. Jones, Matthew Ginther, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Francis X. Shen, Kenneth W. Simons, Rene Marois Jan 2016

Parsing The Behavioral And Brain Mechanisms Of Third-Party Punishment, Owen D. Jones, Matthew Ginther, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Francis X. Shen, Kenneth W. Simons, Rene Marois

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The evolved capacity for third-party punishment is considered crucial to the emergence and maintenance of elaborate human social organization and is central to the modern provision of fairness and justice within society. Although it is well established that the mental state of the offender and the severity of the harm he caused are the two primary predictors of punishment decisions, the precise cognitive and brain mechanisms by which these distinct components are evaluated and integrated into a punishment decision are poorly understood.

Using a brain-scanning technique known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we implemented a novel experimental design to ...


Why Choose? A Response To Rachlinski, Wistrich & Guthrie, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2015

Why Choose? A Response To Rachlinski, Wistrich & Guthrie, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In "Heart Versus Head," Rachlinski, Guthrie, and Wistrich present experimental findings suggesting that judges sometimes rule on the basis of emotion rather than reason. Though there is much of value in their findings, they have presented a false choice. The experiments do offer strong evidence that judges' decisions can be influenced by the "affect heuristic," insofar as they show that prompting generalized feelings of good/bad and like/dislike can sway legal rulings that ought to be answered entirely on traditionally legalistic grounds. However, the experiments do not speak more broadly to the influence of judicial emotion, which is a ...


The Judges Of The U.S. Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation, Tracey E. George, Margaret S. Williams Jan 2014

The Judges Of The U.S. Judicial Panel On Multidistrict Litigation, Tracey E. George, Margaret S. Williams

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (or "MDL Panel") is one of a small number of special federal courts created pursuant to Article III by Congress and staffed by a Chief-Justice-appointed group of Article III judges for limited terms. The MDL Panel is a powerful judicial institution with substantial discretion over complex litigation in the United States. For all practical purposes, it controls where many of the most far-reaching and significant private civil actions will be resolved which can affect procedural and substantive rights of the parties. An understanding of who has served on the MDL Panel would ...


Altering Attention In Adjudication, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Jan 2013

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

Vanderbilt Law School 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?, Chris Guthrie Jan 2013

Contrition In The Courtroom: Do Apologies Affect Adjudication?, Chris Guthrie

Vanderbilt Law School 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 ...


Judges And Their Emotions, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2013

Judges And Their Emotions, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In a contribution to this Symposium on Law and Emotion: Re-Envisioning Family Law, Phillip Shaver and his co-authors succinctly encapsulate contemporary psychological theory on interpersonal attachment -- primarily parent-child attachment and its role in creating lifelong attachment patterns -- and seek to outline the relevance of such research for both social policy and law. This Comment demonstrates that many areas of family law already seek to cultivate and reward attachment. But attachment is not and cannot be the sole-or even, perhaps, the most important-factor driving most legal determinations. Recognizing the importance of secure attachment does not answer difficult questions about how best ...


The Emotionally Intelligent Judge, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2013

The Emotionally Intelligent Judge, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Judges, like all of us, have been acculturated to an ideal of dispassion. But judges experience emotion on a regular basis. Judicial emotion must be managed competently. The psychology of emotion regulation can help judges learn to prepare realistically for, and respond thoughtfully to, the emotions they are bound to feel. This short piece, written for a judicial audience, synthesizes research that can help judges accept, analyze, and shape the emotional aspects of their work.


Angry Judges, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2012

Angry Judges, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Judges get angry. Law, however, is of two minds as to whether they should; more importantly, it is of two minds as to whether judges’ anger should influence their behavior and decision making. On the one hand, anger is the quintessentially judicial emotion. It involves appraisal of wrongdoing, attribution of blame, and assignment of punishment — precisely what we ask of judges. On the other, anger is associated with aggression, impulsivity, and irrationality. Aristotle, through his concept of virtue, proposed reconciling this conflict by asking whether a person is angry at the right people, for the right reasons, and in the ...


The Constitutionality Of Federal Jurisdiction-Stripping Legislation And The History Of State Judicial Selection And Tenure, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2012

The Constitutionality Of Federal Jurisdiction-Stripping Legislation And The History Of State Judicial Selection And Tenure, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Few questions in the field of Federal Courts have captivated scholars like the question of whether Congress can simultaneously divest both lower federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear federal constitutional claims and thereby leave those claims to be litigated in state courts alone. Such a divestiture is known today as “jurisdiction stripping,” and, despite literally decades of scholarship on the subject, scholars have largely been unable to reconcile two widely held views: jurisdiction stripping should be unconstitutional because it deprives constitutional rights of adjudication by independent judges and jurisdiction stripping is nonetheless perfectly consistent ...


Emotional Regulation And Judicial Behavior, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2011

Emotional Regulation And Judicial Behavior, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Judges are human and experience emotion when hearing cases, though the standard account of judging long has denied that fact. In the post-Realist era it is possible to acknowledge that judges have emotional reactions to their work, yet our legal culture continues to insist that a good judge firmly puts those reactions aside. Thus, we expect judges to regulate their emotions, either by preventing emotion’s emergence or by walling off its influence. But judges are given precisely no direction as to how to engage in emotional regulation.

This Article proposes a model for judicial emotion regulation that goes beyond ...


The Persistent Cultural Script Of Judicial Dispassion, Terry A. Maroney Jan 2011

The Persistent Cultural Script Of Judicial Dispassion, Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In contemporary Western jurisprudence it is never appropriate for emotion - anger, love, hatred, sadness, disgust, fear, joy - to affect judicial decision-making. A good judge should feel no emotion; if she does, she puts it aside. To call a judge emotional is a stinging insult, signifying a failure of discipline, impartiality, and reason. Insistence on judicial dispassion is a cultural script of unusual longevity and potency. But not only is the script wrong as a matter of human nature - emotion does not, in fact, invariably tend toward sloppiness, bias, and irrationality - but it is not quite so monolithic as it appears ...


Remaking The United States Supreme Court In The Courts' Of Appeals Image, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George Jan 2009

Remaking The United States Supreme Court In The Courts' Of Appeals Image, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

We argue that Congress should remake the United States Supreme Court in the U.S. courts' of appeals image by increasing the size of the Court's membership, authorizing panel decision making, and retaining an en banc procedure for select cases. In so doing, Congress would expand the Court's capacity to decide cases, facilitating enhanced clarity and consistency in the law as well as heightened monitoring of lower courts and the other branches. Remaking the Court in this way would not only expand the Court's decision making capacity but also improve the Court's composition, competence, and functioning.


The Politics Of Merit Selection, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2009

The Politics Of Merit Selection, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Article, I undertake an evaluation of a method of judicial selection known as "merit selection." The merit system is distinctive from the other systems of judicial selection in the powerful role it accords lawyers. Proponents of the merit system contend that it is superior to the other forms of judicial selection -- elections or appointment by elected officials -- because lawyers are more likely to select judges on the basis of "merit" and less likely to select judges on the basis of "politics" (i.e., the personal ideological preferences of judicial candidates) than are voters or elected officials. But even ...


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

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

Vanderbilt Law School 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 ...


The Neural Correlates Of Third-Party Punishment, Owen D. Jones, Joshua Buckholtz, Christopher L. Asplund, Paul E. Dux, David H. Zald, John C. Gore, Rene Marois Jan 2008

The Neural Correlates Of Third-Party Punishment, Owen D. Jones, Joshua Buckholtz, Christopher L. Asplund, Paul E. Dux, David H. Zald, John C. Gore, Rene Marois

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This article reports the discovery, from the first full-scale law and neuroscience experiment, of the brain activity underlying punishment decisions.

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity of subjects as they read hypothetical scenarios about harm-causing protagonists and then decided whether to punish and, if so, how much.

The key variables were: a) presence or absence of excusing, justifying, or otherwise mitigating factors (such as acting under duress); and b) harm severity (which ranged from a stolen CD to a rape/murder/torture combination).

Findings include:

(1) Analytic and emotional brain circuitries are jointly involved, yet ...


The Myth Of The Generalist Judge, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2008

The Myth Of The Generalist Judge, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Conventional judicial wisdom assumes and indeed celebrates the ideal of the generalist judge, but do judges really believe in it? This Article empirically tests this question by examining opinion assignments in the federal courts of appeals from 1995-2005. It reveals that opinion specialization is a regular part of circuit court practice, and that a significant number of judges specialize in specific subject areas. The Article then assesses the desirability of opinion specialization. Far from being a mere loophole, opinion specialization turns out to be an important development in judicial practice that promises to increase judicial expertise without incurring many of ...


Errors, Omissions, And The Tennessee Plan, Brian T. Fitzpatrick Jan 2008

Errors, Omissions, And The Tennessee Plan, Brian T. Fitzpatrick

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In the Spring 2008 issue of the Tennessee Law Review, I wrote an essay questioning whether Tennessee's merit system for selecting appellate judges - the Tennessee Plan - satisfies the requirements of the Tennessee Constitution. The Tennessee Constitution requires all judges to be elected by the qualified voters of the state, yet, under the Plan, all appellate judges are initially selected by gubernatorial appointment and then retained in uncontested referenda. I argued that both the appointment and retention features of the Plan are unconstitutional, and I recommended that the legislature refuse to reauthorize the Plan when it expires in June of ...


"The Threes": Re-Imaging Supreme Court Decisionmaking, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George Jan 2008

"The Threes": Re-Imaging Supreme Court Decisionmaking, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Essay--the first in a series of essays designed to reimagine the Supreme Court--we argue that Congress should authorize the Court to adopt, in whole or part, panel decision making... With respect to the prospect of different Court outcomes, we demonstrate empirically in this Essay that the vast majority of cases decided during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries--including "Grutter", "Roe", and "Bush v. Gore" --would have come out the same way if the Court had decided them in panels rather than as a full Court.


Chief Judges: The Limits Of Attitudinal Theory And Possible Paradox Of Managerial Judging, Tracey E. George, Albert H. Yoon Jan 2008

Chief Judges: The Limits Of Attitudinal Theory And Possible Paradox Of Managerial Judging, Tracey E. George, Albert H. Yoon

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Chief judges wield power. Among other things, they control judicial assignments, circulate petitions to their colleagues, and manage internal requests and disputes. When exercising this power, do chiefs seek to serve as impartial court administrators or do they attempt to manufacture case outcomes that reflect their political beliefs? Because chiefs exercise their power almost entirely outside public view, no one knows. No one sees the chief judge change the composition of a panel before it is announced or delay consideration of a petition for en banc review or favor the requests of some colleagues while ignoring those of others. Chiefs ...


The Most Dangerous Justice Rides Into The Sunset, Paul H. Edelman, Jim Chen Jan 2007

The Most Dangerous Justice Rides Into The Sunset, Paul H. Edelman, Jim Chen

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this essay, our third and last in a series, we employ our previously developed techniques to measure the power of the Justices in the Rehnquist Court over its full 11 year run. Once again, Justice Kennedy rises to the top of our rankings, as he had done earlier. Our methods identify Justices Souter, Breyer and Ginsburg as being notable either for their influence or lack thereof. In addition, we rejoin the debate on the connection between being the median justice and being the most powerful one. We question whether even the most sophisticated methods of finding the median justice ...


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

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

Vanderbilt Law School 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, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich Jan 2006

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

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Specialization is common in medicine. Doctors become oncologists, radiologists, urologists, or even hernia repair specialists. Specialization is also common among practicing lawyers, who become estate planners or products liability lawyers or securities litigators. Judges, however, have historically been generalists who preside over any and all cases. This requires that judges become acquainted with the rules of civil procedure, the rules of criminal procedure, the evidentiary rules applicable to both civil and criminal cases, and the substantive law in almost every area. From the simplest slip-and-fall to the most complicated antitrust case, and nearly every civil and criminal action in between ...


Can Judges Ignore Inadmissible Information? The Difficulty Of Deliberately Disregarding, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich Jan 2005

Can Judges Ignore Inadmissible Information? The Difficulty Of Deliberately Disregarding, Chris Guthrie, Andrew J. Wistrich

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Due process requires courts to make decisions based on the evidence before them without regard to information outside of the record. Skepticism about the ability of jurors to ignore inadmissible information is widespread. Empirical research confirms that this skepticism is well founded. Many courts and commentators, however, assume that judges can accomplish what jurors cannot. This Article reports the results of experiments we have conducted to determine whether judges can ignore inadmissible information. We found that the judges who participated in our experiments struggled to perform this challenging mental task. The judges had difficulty disregarding demands disclosed during a settlement ...


The Futility Of Appeal: Disciplinary Insights Into The "Affirmance Effect" On The United States Courts Of Appeals, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George Jan 2005

The Futility Of Appeal: Disciplinary Insights Into The "Affirmance Effect" On The United States Courts Of Appeals, Chris Guthrie, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In contrast to the Supreme Court, which typically reverses the cases it hears, the United States Courts of Appeals almost always affirm the cases that they hear. We set out to explore this affirmance effect on the U.S. Courts of Appeal by using insights drawn from law and economics (i.e., selection theory), political science (i.e., attitudinal theory and new institutionalism), and cognitive psychology (i.e., heuristics and biases, including the status quo and omission biases).