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Judicial decision making

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Doctrinal Reasoning As A Disruptive Practice, Jessie Allen Jan 2018

Doctrinal Reasoning As A Disruptive Practice, Jessie Allen

Articles

Legal doctrine is generally thought to contribute to legal decision making only to the extent it determines substantive results. Yet in many cases, the available authorities are indeterminate. I propose a different model for how doctrinal reasoning might contribute to judicial decisions. Drawing on performance theory and psychological studies of readers, I argue that judges’ engagement with formal legal doctrine might have self-disrupting effects like those performers experience when they adopt uncharacteristic behaviors. Such disruptive effects would not explain how judges ultimately select, or should select, legal results. But they might help legal decision makers to set aside subjective biases.


Empirical Doctrine, Jessie Allen Jan 2015

Empirical Doctrine, Jessie Allen

Articles

We can observe and measure how legal decision makers use formal legal authorities, but there is no way to empirically test the determinative capacity of legal doctrine itself. Yet, discussions of empirical studies of judicial behavior sometimes conflate judges’ attention to legal rules with legal rules determining outcomes. Doctrinal determinacy is not the same thing as legal predictability. The extent to which legal outcomes are predictable in given contexts is surely testable empirically. But the idea that doctrine’s capacity to produce or limit those outcomes can be measured empirically is fundamentally misguided. The problem is that to measure doctrinal determinacy, …