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In Pursuit of Actual Justice

71 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2007  

Sarah Cravens

University of Akron School of Law


This article proposes that the fundamental goal of judicial ethics and practice is to achieve actual justice in judicial decisionmaking. To that end, it argues that current attempts to resolve concerns about impartial judicial decisionmaking through appearance-based recusal and disqualification standards are ill-conceived and ineffective. It proposes a substantial curtailment of recusals and a corresponding strengthening of the judicial duty to sit. It proposes to resolve fundamental concerns about actual justice, and at the same time to address concerns about public confidence in the judiciary, through a requirement that judges provide explanations of adequate internal legal reasons supporting their dispositive decisions and a focus on those reasoned elaborations in the assessment of the legitimacy of both the decisions and the performance of the judges who reached them, rather than a focus on mere guesswork about what might be influencing judges in their deliberations.

Keywords: judges, ethics, recusal, bias

JEL Classification: K1, K10

Suggested Citation

Cravens, Sarah, In Pursuit of Actual Justice. Alabama Law Review, Vol. 59, 2007; U of Akron Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-09. Available at SSRN:

Sarah Cravens (Contact Author)

University of Akron School of Law ( email )

150 University Ave.
Akron, OH 44325-2901
United States
(330) 972-2332 (Phone)

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