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Full-Text Articles in Law

Taking Laughter Seriously At The Supreme Court, Tonja Jacobi, Matthew Sag Oct 2019

Taking Laughter Seriously At The Supreme Court, Tonja Jacobi, Matthew Sag

Vanderbilt Law Review

Laughter in Supreme Court oral arguments has been misunderstood, treated as either a lighthearted distraction from the Court's serious work, or interpreted as an equalizing force in an otherwise hierarchical environment. Examining the more than nine thousand instances of laughter witnessed at the Court since 1955, this Article shows that the Justices of the Supreme Court use courtroom humor as a tool of advocacy and a signal of their power and status. As the Justices have taken on a greater advocacy role in the modern era, they have also provoked more laughter.

The performative nature of courtroom humor is apparent …


The Effects Of Trial Judge Gender And Public Opinion On Criminal Sentencing Decisions, Christina L. Boyd, Michael J. Nelson Nov 2017

The Effects Of Trial Judge Gender And Public Opinion On Criminal Sentencing Decisions, Christina L. Boyd, Michael J. Nelson

Vanderbilt Law Review

We explore the effects of a trial judge's gender in criminal sentencing decisions by addressing two unsettled questions. First, do female and male trial judges sentence criminal offenders differently from one another? While numerous qualitative and quantitative scholars have examined this question, the results lack consistency. Second, are female trial judges' sentencing practices differentially affected by public opinion compared to male judges' behavior? Little research exists on this second question, but existing theory on how females and males make decisions and operate as judges is informative. To provide new empirical insight into these questions, we rely on two sources of …


Public Perceptions Of Gender Bias In The Decisions Of Female State Court Judges, Michael P. Fix, Gbemende E. Johnson Nov 2017

Public Perceptions Of Gender Bias In The Decisions Of Female State Court Judges, Michael P. Fix, Gbemende E. Johnson

Vanderbilt Law Review

How are women on the bench, and their decisions, perceived by the public? Many scholars find that gender influences the voting behavior of judges and the assessment of judges by state judicial systems and the American Bar Association. However, few scholars have examined how judge gender affects the way in which the public responds to judicial outcomes. Does the public perceive the decisions of female state court judges as being "biased" by their gender identity, particularly in cases involving reproductive rights/family law? Also, does the public view female judges on state courts as more likely to rely on ideology when …


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 far more …


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).


Court Fixing, Tracey E. George Jan 2001

Court Fixing, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article critically examines the existing social science evidence on the relative importance of various individual factors on judicial behavior and adds to that evidence by considering the influence of prior academic experience on judges. Researchers have not focused much attention on the importance of a judge's background as a full-time law professor and legal scholar, although more than thirteen percent of courts of appeals appointees were former law professors. Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan both viewed the federal judiciary (particularly the Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeals) as integral to their policy agendas, and both further believed that …


The Dynamics And Determinants Of The Decision To Grant En Banc Review, Tracey E. George Jan 1999

The Dynamics And Determinants Of The Decision To Grant En Banc Review, Tracey E. George

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The ability of U.S. Courts of Appeals to control the development of law within their respective circuits has been strained by the practice of divisional sittings, the growing caseload at the circuit court level, the increasing number of judges sitting within each circuit, and the decreasing probability of Supreme Court intervention. The primary method of maintaining coherence and consistency in doctrinal development within a federal circuit is en banc review. Yet, many critics contend that en bane rehearing is a time-consuming, inefficient procedure that fails to serve its intended purpose and too often is abused for political ends. This Article …