Levin College of Law
⇠ Back to Courses Overview

Judicial Decisionmaking

Course Number: LAW 6936 Credits: 2

Some say the “law” answers cases. This course asks whether that is always true; or, rather, whether the judicial process involves features beyond the application of law to facts. Consider, for example, the dynamics of decisionmaking by multimember appellate courts. Does it matter who is assigned a case or will the majority bargain to the same outcome, regardless? How might other pressures—e.g., caseload and court structure—influence decisionmaking? Does the identity, ideology, or experience of a judge matter? If it does, should that influence judicial selection?  This course will examine these and other questions like them. In law school, these issues often receive consideration only at the margins, as you focus on learning doctrinal rules. In our course, however, the behavior of judges and how judges affect legal outcomes and shape legal institutions is the central focus.