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Course Listing

Judicial Decision Making (3 cr)
LAW 882
To understand what the law actually is in practice, and to understand how it evolves over time, it is necessary to understand how judges decide cases. Understanding judicial decision-making also helps policy-makers develop beneficial policies regarding the courts, including selecting judges who may or may not be influenced by politics or ideology, and developing educational opportunities for judges. Insight into the “judicial mind” also helps attorneys craft persuasive arguments. Thus, in this seminar we survey the legal, political science, and empirical literature on how judges make decisions. Topics to be studied, both from a theoretical and practical perspective, include: theories of judicial decision-making; judicial election and appointment; constraints under which judges operate; the impact of court structure on the decision-making process; judicial writing; clerks’ role in the decision-making process; the relationship between the media and the courts; judicial education; and the influence of public perceptions of the court. Class attendance and participation are required. Brief weekly responses and a final research paper are required; the paper will satisfy the College of Law’s Writing Requirement. The seminar complements other courses at the College of Law (e.g., LCR III: Judicial Writing or Law, Politics, and the Media), as well as opportunities at the Maxwell School and with the Institute for the Study of the Judiciary, Politics, and the Media.

Taught By:
Jeremy A. Blumenthal