Judge of All Trades: Further Thoughts on Specialized Courts

Volume 99, No. 3 : Winter 2015

Departments

EDITOR’S NOTEEDITOR’S NOTE

Relevant and Thought-Provoking
by Nancy Joseph

BRIEFS & LETTERSBRIEFS & LETTERS

Mandatory Judicial Retirement Ages;
Judicial Honors and Milestones; and more.

THE STORIED THIRD BRANCHTHE STORIED THIRD BRANCH

A One-In-A-Generation Kind of Judge
by Patricia Timmons-Goodson

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

Why the Rules Needed a Fix
by John K. Rabiej

Features

Judge of All Trades: Further Thoughts on Specialized Courts

by Diane P. Wood

In most other areas of human endeavor, few question the proposition that there are gains from specialization. Adam Smith, among other notables, pointed out that the division of labor makes a factor more efficient, and that insight may be applied generally to the entire economy. The practice of law in the United States today provides a perfect illustration: Apart from lawyers who practice in small rural settings, who may still be true general practitioners who handle a divorce one day, an incorporation the next day, criminal defense the third, and a will the fourth, nearly all lawyers specialize, and sub-specialize. … Why, then, do we find such variation in the use of specialized courts? Or, more to the point, why do some countries — especially the United States — reject specialization to the extent that they do?

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Autopsy Reports and the Confrontation Clause

by Daniel J. Capra and Joseph Tartakovsky

Courts nationwide are divided over whether autopsy reports are “testimonial” under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. This article applies the latest Supreme Court jurisprudence to the work of modern medical examiners in a comprehensive inquiry. It argues that autopsy reports should be presumed nontestimonial — a presumption overcome only by a showing that law enforcement involvement materially influenced the examiner’s autopsy report.

How Federal Judges Contribute to Mass Incarceration And What They Can Do About It

by Lynn Adelman and Jon Deitrich

Talk of reforming sentencing law is much in the air. Increased public awareness of the fact that the United States is the world capital of mass incarceration has prompted public officials in both political parties as well as other prominent figures to call for legislation that would reduce the number of federal prisoners. … The fact is that many federal offenders are unnecessarily imprisoned, and that many overly long sentences are imposed in cases where there is no mandatory minimum. To address this problem, the conversation about excessive imprisonment needs to be expanded to include the impact of the prison-oriented approach of the federal sentencing guidelines and federal judges’ continued adherence to that approach notwithstanding the guidelines’ nonbinding status.

Autopsy Reports and the Confrontation Clause

by Daniel J. Capra and Joseph Tartakovsky

Courts nationwide are divided over whether autopsy reports are “testimonial” under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. This article applies the latest Supreme Court jurisprudence to the work of modern medical examiners in a comprehensive inquiry. It argues that autopsy reports should be presumed non-testimonial — a presumption overcome only by a showing that law enforcement involvement materially influenced the examiner’s autopsy report.

Departments

POINT-COUNTERPOINTPOINT-COUNTERPOINT

Claims-Made Class-Action Settlements: Elizabeth Cabraser and Andrew Pincus discuss how claims-made class actions are handled by the courts and whether reform is needed. > Download the PDF

BOOK REVIEWBOOK REVIEW

Evolving the Courts: Aaron D. Ford reviews a book by Victor E. Flango and Thomas M. Clarke that suggests courts should adopt more problem-solving approaches in delivering justice.

LASTLYLASTLY

Clearing the confusion over the first U.S. patent, 225 years later. by Jennifer Behrens. > Download the PDF