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empirical study of courts, judicial performance, appellate judges


This essay discredits current empirical models that are designed to “judge” or rank appellate judges, and then assesses the harms of propagating such models. First, the essay builds on the discussion of empirical models by arguing that (1) the judicial virtues that the legal empiricists set out to measure have little bearing on what actually makes for a good judge; and (2) even if they did, the empiricists’ chosen variables have not measured those virtues accurately. The essay then concludes that by generating unreliable claims about the relative quality of judges, these studies mislead both decision-makers and the public, degrade discussions of judging, and could, if taken seriously, detrimentally alter the behavior of judges themselves.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Courts, Judges--Evaluation, Appellate courts

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Judges Commons