University of Virginia School of Law
September 1, 2006
Virginia Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 4, 2008
The idea that judges have a duty to be sincere or candid in their legal opinions has been subject to systematic criticism in recent years. Critics have argued that a strong presumption in favor of candor threatens judicial legitimacy, deters positive strategic action on multi-member courts, reduces the clarity and coherence of doctrine, erodes collegiality, and promotes the proliferation of fractured opinions. Against these and other objections, I defend the view that judges have a duty to give sincere public justifications for their legal decisions. After distinguishing the concepts of sincerity and candor, I argue that the values of legal justification and publicity support a principle of judicial sincerity. This principle imposes weaker constraints than a general duty of judicial candor. But while candor may be desirable, judges who provide sincere justifications for their decisions satisfy the demands of legitimate adjudication.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: judicial candor, sincerity, publicity, public justification, legal justificationAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 20, 2006 ; Last revised: June 16, 2010
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