Judicial Independence at the Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Approach

By Wasby, Stephen L. | Justice System Journal, September 1, 2004 | Go to article overview

Judicial Independence at the Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Approach


Wasby, Stephen L., Justice System Journal


Stephen B. Burbank and Barry Friedman, eds., Judicial Independence at the Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2002). 298 pp.

This collection of eight papers was expanded from a 2001 conference of scholars from different disciplines. The editors added a theoretical essay on aspects of judicial independence, in which they examined various literatures on the subject, with particular attention to motivations of, and constraints on, judges. The language throughout is that of the various authors' disciplines, which makes this volume more accessible to social scientists and law professors than to a broader audience.

Lewis A. Kornhauser and Edward L. Rubin provide further theoretical explorations. Kornhauser answers "No" to the question "Is Judicial Independence a Useful Concept?" (pp. 45-55) and explores various definitions of "judicial independence." Rubin looks at independence in government more generally ("Independence as a Governance Mechanism," pp. 56-100) and applies that discussion to judicial independence; he includes aspects where judicial independence is not applicable to the judiciary's work and ends with some prescriptions.

Four articles deal with empirical aspects of judicial independence. Terri Jennings Peretti ("Does Judicial Independence Exist?" pp. 103-33) brings political science studies to bear on judicial selection, judicial decision making, and public confidence in the courts. …

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