Probability, Confidence, and the 'Reasonable Jury' Standard

70 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2012 Last revised: 7 Jan 2016

See all articles by Luke Meier

Luke Meier

Baylor University - Law School

Date Written: November 21, 2012


The modern summary judgment standard requires that a judge consider how a "reasonable jury" would resolve a particular dispute. By creating the impression that a judge's analysis at summary judgment replicates that of a jury at trial, the "reasonable jury" standard masks a component of the judge's summary judgment analysis. To appreciate this concept, it is necessary to distinguish between the concepts of probability and confidence. Whereas a jury primarily -- if not exclusively -- engages in a probability analysis, a judge performs both a probability and confidence analysis. This article discusses the dual nature of a judge's summary judgment inquiry through a reconsideration of Professor Tribe's "blue bus" hypothetical. In addition, this article demonstrates how the "reasonable jury" standard makes it difficult to identify the confidence concept as a component of federal procedure.

Keywords: summary judgment, reasonable jury, blue bus, gatecrasher, confidence, probability, Tribe, Cohen, Rule 56, Meier

JEL Classification: C79

Suggested Citation

Meier, Luke, Probability, Confidence, and the 'Reasonable Jury' Standard (November 21, 2012). 84 Mississippi Law Journal 747 (2015). Available at SSRN: or

Luke Meier (Contact Author)

Baylor University - Law School ( email )

Sheila & Walter Umphrey Law Center
1114 South University Parks Drive
Waco, TX 76706
United States

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