Judging as Judgment: Tying Judicial Education to Adjudication Theory
University of Texas School of Law, Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series Publication No. 636
27 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2016
Date Written: January 26, 2016
This Article, written for a symposium on judicial education, explores the relationship between judicial education and theories of civil adjudication. Its thesis, simply stated, is that judicial education makes sense only against the backdrop of ideas and beliefs about adjudication. I explore this broad thesis from both a historical and a normative perspective. The historical discussion recounts the rapid rise of formal judicial education programs in the 1960s, and argues that judicial education caught fire when it did in large part because of prevailing ideas about law, courts, and adjudication, ideas that were shaped by the influential process school of jurisprudence and the new field of management science. These ideas and beliefs together pushed judicial administration to the forefront of the court reform agenda and focused attention on education as the way to mobilize broad-based support for reform. The Article then turns to the normative dimension and critically examines current judicial education programs. It argues that these programs largely overlook one of the most important functions that judicial education can perform today — facilitating critical reflection on the principles that underlie civil adjudication with the aim of working toward a shared normative view. In particular, in-person, face-to-face instruction is a good format for engaging judges in constructive discussion and debate about the best normative account that fits and justifies core features of American litigation practice and procedure. In the 1960s, jurists thought they understood how to make courts better and saw judicial education as a means to implement their shared views. Today, by contrast, jurists disagree about many of the most fundamental aspects of civil adjudication. Yet judicial education still has an important role to play, not as a means to implement a shared understanding, but rather as a means to facilitate such an understanding through critical reflection, discussion, and debate.
Keywords: judicial education, Process Jurisprudence, management science, adjudication theory, Institute of Judicial Administration, Justice Tom Clark
JEL Classification: K40, K41, K49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation