Where Are We Going? The Generalist vs. Specialist Challenge
15 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2012
Date Written: September 9, 2012
This is a review essay considering two books: 'The Death of the American Trial' by Robert P. Burns and 'Specializing the Courts' by Lawrence Baum. The organizing theme of the essay is the lay jurors represent one end of the spectrum of potential adjudicators with specialized courts and tribunals represent the other end of the spectrum. While Burns does not develop his argument in terms of specialization, a significant aspect of his argument is that there is value to relying on nonspecialist, lay adjudicators. Burns is an advocate for the trials, particularly jury trials; as such, he glosses over evidence that runs counter his own preference. In contrast to Burns, Baum develops an explicit framework to consider the possible advantages of specialization; he concludes that the evidence is insufficient to reach firm conclusions on whether specialist courts fulfill the arguments advanced by their proponents. Unfortunately, Baum’s decision to limit his analysis to those tribunals that are formally part of the judiciary means that he has missed the opportunity to consider evidence that would help answer the questions he poses.
Keywords: Juries, Specialized Courts
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