Judicial Systems

Judging Implicit Bias: A National Empirical Study of Judicial Stereotypes

Written by: Justin D. Levinson, Mark W. Bennett, & Koichi Hioki

Abstract American judges, and especially lifetime-appointed federal judges, are often revered as the pinnacle of objectivity, possessing a deep commitment to fairness, and driven to seek justice as they interpret federal laws and the U.S. Constitution. As these judges struggle with some of the great challenges of the modern legal world, empirical scholars must seek […]

A New Era for Judicial Retention Elections: The Rise of and Defense Against Unfair Political Attacks

Written by: Hon. Barbara J. Pariente & F. James Robinson, Jr.

Abstract The judicial-merit selection and retention system for appointing judges to the bench was designed to emphasize selection based on the judge’s qualifications and to minimize the influence of partisanship and politics in both the selection and retention process. Since 2010, increasingly strident and frequent political attacks on state supreme court justices facing judicial-merit retention […]

Interpreting the Supreme Court: Finding Meaning in the Justices’ Personal Experiences

Written by: Amy Howe

Abstract At his 2004 confirmation hearing, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. famously compared the role of a Supreme Court Justice to that of a baseball umpire and promised “to remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes.” Roberts likely intended this to mean that he would serve as a neutral arbiter of […]

Jonathan Remy Nash, Expertise and Opinion Assignment on the Courts of Appeals: A Preliminary Investigation

This Article examines the role of expertise in judicial opinion assignment and offers four contributions: First, this Article develops a general theory of opinion assignment on multimember courts. Second, this Article uses that theory to predict how expertise might influence opinion assignment. Third, because the theory advanced in this Article suggests that the courts of […]

Anne R. Traum, Using Outcomes to Reframe Guilty Plea Adjudication

The Supreme Court’s 2012 decisions in Lafler v. Cooper and Missouri v. Frye lay the groundwork for a new approach to judicial oversight of guilty pleas that considers outcomes. These cases confirm that courts possess robust authority to protect defendants’ Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel and that plea outcomes are particularly […]

Kevin J. Lynch, The Lock-in Effect of Preliminary Injunctions

One important bias economists and psychologists have identified is the lock-in effect. The lock-in effect causes a decision maker who must revisit an earlier decision to be locked in to that earlier decision. The effect is particularly pronounced where the earlier decision led to the investment of resources that cannot be recovered. Although lock-in does […]