Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Article excerpt

Please find our final issue of 2012, 33:3. The issue continues our pattern of presenting new and innovative research on both courts and court administration. As in our previous issues, this issue has interesting readings for the various segments of the audience for the Justice System Journal. As always, we hope that a broad spectrum of our readers will find the ideas and evidence presented in this issue interesting and relevant.

Our first three articles examine state courts and their political environments. The first, by Professor Greg Goelzhauser, examines the important and timely issue of judicial independence in a very novel and innovative way-through examining case disposition times. Goelzhauser finds that courts with judges who enjoy less independence dispose certain types of cases more quickly. As he notes, the findings have implications for our understanding of judicial independence.

Our next article, by Aman McLeod of Florida Coastal School of Law, analyzes the institutional structure for appointing judges and finds that the structure matters in determining gubernatorial appointments. Professor McLeod's study reveals that while governors prefer to appoint nominees of the same party, the probability of a cross-party appointment increases if the state uses a judicial nominating commission and if an opposition party controls the legislative body that must confirm the nomination.

Finally, our trio of articles about state courts and their political environments concludes with a study by Professor Susanne Schorrp of Georgia State University. Professor Schorrp examines the constraints on judicial decision making imposed by the political environment, and her findings suggests that public opinion and gubernatorial pressure can constrain judges who are very concerned with legitimacy.

From these articles we move on to examinations of federal court behavior. Professor Katherine Felix Scheurer of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks examines the extent to which gender influences individual Supreme Court justices' voting decisions across four issue areas. …