Thursday, January 18, 2007

Scholarship I've Been Reading

I'm a big fan of Nick Hornby (this essay in the New Yorker is the funniest piece of music criticism I've ever read), including his "Stuff I've Been Reading" column in The Believer. The basic idea is that he starts each column with a list of the books he's bought and the books he's read in the preceding month, and then proceeds to riff on it. (The one rule is that he can't say anything negative about any of it, because The Believer's not that sort of publication.)

I'm not going to rip off the device completely, but it seems like a not-altogether-bad way of generating some content for our little corner of the blogosphere. Here, then, with every intention of making this a semi-regular feature, is my very first, and very modest, contribution.

Among the many e-mails I've received recently from SSRN was one pointing me to John Lande's forthcoming (in the Journal of Dispute Resolution) article entitled "How Much Justice Can We Afford?: Defining the Courts' Roles and Deciding the Appropriate Number of Trials, Settlement Signals, and Other Elements Needed to Administer Justice." Lande interviewed the clerks of court (i.e., not judicial law clerks, but the clerks who administer the courts) in the ten federal district courts in the Eighth Circuit regarding their perceptions of the effects of declining trial rates and limited resources on the functioning of the judicial system. The clerks generally take the position that things are working just fine. The overall feel is somewhat Rumsfeldian - you adjudicate cases with the judicial system you have, not the one you wish you had. While I don't share the clerks' instinct that all is well, I think these are the sorts of perspectives that ought to be given more play in the legal literature.


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