'Only Connect': Toward a Unified Measurement Project
11 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2009
Date Written: March 27, 2009
Conventional wisdom is that the academy and the judiciary have been growing farther apart in recent years. Judges complain that legal academic work has become increasingly theoretical and obscure. Gone are the days when a judge could pick up a leading law review and gain guidance on some important legal issue. Admittedly, fewer academics these days spend their time synthesizing cases. But while the divide between the two groups may have widened in certain respects, there are ways in which these two groups are (or should be) growing closer. The academy has increasing interest in studying the judiciary - using empirical tools to analyze: (1) patterns in judicial decisions; and (2) the effects of different forms of judicial organization and administration. Thus far, judges have not responded to the empirical scrutiny with great enthusiasm. If anything, they seem to view the modern turn to empirical research as further evidence of a misguided academy. That view, while perhaps understandable, given some of the rhetoric about "political judging" in the academic literature, may be worth changing. There is much that judges and academics could learn from each other. This new body of research if guided by judges holds promise for judges and academics alike. This Foreword describes an attempt, in collaboration with the Duke Law Journal, to encourage a conversation between judges and the academic empiricists who study them.
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