Judges, Lawyers, and a Predictive Theory of Legal Complexity
Benjamin H. Barton
University of Tennessee College of Law
University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 31
This Article uses public choice theory and the new institutionalism to discuss the incentives, proclivities, and shared backgrounds of lawyers and judges. In America every law-making judge has a single unifying characteristic, each is a former lawyer. This shared background has powerful and unexplored effects on the shape and structure of American law. This Article argues that the shared characteristics, thought-processes, training, and incentives of Judges and lawyers lead inexorably to greater complexity in judge-made law. These same factors lead to the following prediction: judge-created law will be most complex in areas where a) elite lawyers regularly practice; b) judges may have a personal preference in the case that can be written-around by way of legal complexity; and c) the subject area interests the judge, or is generally considered prestigious. The Article uses the law of standing as a case study.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 35
Keywords: legal complexity, law and economics, public choice theory, new institutionalism, judicial behavior, standing
JEL Classification: D72, D73, K40, K41
Date posted: May 25, 2008 ; Last revised: June 21, 2008
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