LAW7953 - On Courts and Judging

LAW7953 - On Courts and Judging

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From theory to practice, the question of how judges think and decide cases is relevant not only to practicing attorneys, but also to policy-makers, advocates, legal scholars, and more broadly to the general public. This seminar discusses current research about courts, with a focus on judges as the primary actors within those institutions. The course will begin by engaging with theories of judging found in jurisprudence, legal philosophy, and political science, what is a court and what is its purpose. It will then look at some of the more concrete aspects of judging discussed by psychologists and sociologists, such as judges' caseload pressure, the need to work with fellow judges and the other supporting personnel, judges' interactions with their audiences, and judicial performance evaluations. The goal for this seminar is to expose students to a wide array of literature on courts and the judicial process, with a view toward formulating questions for further research in the field. To understand judging and the specific constraints implicated by the court setting, the discussion will bring together normative theories of adjudication and real-world court practices by focusing on empirical and comparative law scholarship on courts. The readings will present examples drawn from a variety of legal systems, including the U.S., China, Japan, the European Union, South Africa, and Canada.