Evaluating Judges and Judicial Institutions: Reorienting the Perspective
Empirical scholarship on judges, judging, and judicial institutions, a staple in political science, is becoming increasingly popular in law schools. We propose that this scholarship can be improved and enhanced by greater collaboration between empirical scholars, legal theorists, and the primary subjects of the research, the judges. We recently hosted a workshop that attempted to move away from the conventional mode of involving judges and theorists in empirical research, where they serve as commentators on empirical studies that they often see as reductionist and mis-focused. Instead, we had the judges and theorists set the discussion agenda for the empiricists by describing topics that they thought were worthy of inquiry. In this essay, we explain why we think collaboration of this sort should be encouraged and draw on the workshop experience to offer suggestions for improving the quality and utility of empirical research in this area.