Gossiping About Judges
47 Pages Posted: 15 May 2014
Date Written: May 13, 2014
Gossip about judges is an essential source of information to civil litigators. Hearing third-party assessments of a judge’s personality, demeanor, intelligence, curiosity, and openness to new interpretations of the law can substantially affect a lawyer’s strategic decisions during the course of litigation, and sometimes whether litigation occurs at all. Yet gossip about judges rarely merits mention, and has evaded serious study.
This Article brings attorney gossip about judges out into the open, identifying its strategic benefits and drawbacks, and explaining how attorneys use gossip (and other secondhand information on judges) to anticipate the likely outcome of judicial decisions. It further explains how common attorney practices in modern civil litigation unintentionally compromise the accuracy and reliability of gossip about judges, and offers some thoughts on restoring the full value of this little-discussed resource.
Keywords: Gossip, Reputation, War Stories, Social Cognition, Impression Formation, Judges, Attorney-Judge Interaction, Signaling, Shared Reality, Experience Sampling, Forum Shopping, Pretrial Process, Federal District Courts
JEL Classification: K40, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation