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In Good Conscience: Expressions of Judicial Conscience in Federal Appellate Opinions

68 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2012  

Sarah Cravens

University of Akron School of Law

Date Written: August 24, 2012

Abstract

This article explores judicial references to what judges may or may not do, in their own words “in good conscience.” It assesses the most common situations in which federal appellate judges use this term and it discusses the propriety of different uses and placements of those expressions of conscientious commitments that play into judicial decisionmaking. It distinguishes between expressions of primarily institutional conscience (that is, the commitment to certain institutional values, responsibilities, or limitations on what the judge may do) and expressions of primarily personal conscience (that is, the commitment to the individual values or beliefs of the judge who expresses the matter of conscience). Having explored these categories of expressions, and the muddy middle ground between them, the article discusses questions of the legitimacy of conscience as an input to judicial decisionmaking and as a matter for open expression.

Keywords: judicial conscience, in good conscience, appellate judge, judicial decisionmaking, institutional conscience, legal ethics, professional responsibility

JEL Classification: K10

Suggested Citation

Cravens, Sarah, In Good Conscience: Expressions of Judicial Conscience in Federal Appellate Opinions (August 24, 2012). U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-17. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2135762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2135762

Sarah Cravens (Contact Author)

University of Akron School of Law ( email )

150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States
(330) 972-2332 (Phone)

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