Probability, Confidence, and the 'Reasonable Jury' Standard
70 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2012 Last revised: 7 Jan 2016
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: Suggested Citation