Duke’s oldest law journal, Law & Contemporary Problems, has published several thesis papers written by judges who are graduates of the Bolch Judicial Institute’s Master of Judicial Studies program. The papers comprise a special edition of the journal titled The Study of Judicial Institutions: A View from the Inside (Vol. 82 No. 2), and journal editors believe it is the first time a law journal has been exclusively devoted to scholarly works by sitting judges.
The edition’s faculty editors, Duke Law professors Jack Knight, Margaret H. Lemos, and Mitu Gulati, also teach in the master’s program. They proposed this special edition of the journal in part because the selected articles “tackle features of the judiciary that have been largely ignored by conventional law scholarship,” said Lemos.
In a foreword for the journal, David F. Levi, director of the Bolch Judicial Institute, wrote that the master’s program curriculum “is designed to address those issues most relevant to the judiciary, expose judges to recent scholarship about the judiciary, and provide intellectually ambitious members of the judiciary the extraordinary opportunity to engage in research and scholarship under the guidance of leading academicians.”
The theses published in Law & Contemporary Problems, he adds, address “important topics in the study of the judiciary: how should courts be constituted, how do judges decide cases, and what can courts do to improve the delivery of justice. The breadth of these topics and the depth of the research in this volume serve as evidence that the goals of the master’s program are being realized.”
Articles examine the following topics:
- How court procedures impact judicial decision-making: Judge Donald W. Molloy of the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana contrasts the impact of career law clerks with that of term law clerks, analyzing the unique attributes that each clerk brings to the judicial chambers, and Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania examines the effects of court norms and rules on appellate judges’ collective decision-making.
- Perspectives on judicial selection processes: Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California provides insights from her research on judicial diversity; Vice Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel of the Arizona Supreme Court analyzes leadership judge appointments; and Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer, also of the Arizona Supreme Court, conducts an empirical analysis of re-selection elections.
- Criminal law reform: Justice David Collins of the High Court of New Zealand proposes a new test to evaluate competence to stand trial, and Judge Tracie A. Todd of the Alabama 10th Judicial Circuit explores the role of state judges in mass incarceration.
The papers were selected based on empirical quality and the insights they offer to the field of judicial studies, wrote Heather Cron, editor in chief, in an article about the journal for Judicature. “As members of the judiciary, the authors add ‘insider perspectives’ to ongoing debates about the administration of justice,” she wrote. “They have conducted original research, including comparative surveys and interviews, to develop practical proposals for addressing a variety of ongoing challenges. Although the topics are broad, each seeks to identify ways to strengthen judicial institutions.
“We are honored to publish these articles, and we hope they will encourage other judges to join these important conversations on the judiciary and the administration of justice,” Cron added.
The full edition is available on L&CP’s website.