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Judicial Sincerity

Micah Schwartzman

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 justification

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Date posted: September 20, 2006 ; Last revised: June 16, 2010

Suggested Citation

Schwartzman, Micah, Judicial Sincerity (September 1, 2006). Virginia Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 4, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=931435

Contact Information

Micah Schwartzman (Contact Author)
University of Virginia School of Law ( email )
580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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