Judges Citing Literature

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2 Responses

  1. Comment Transferor says:

    regarding the empathy question, here’s a pretty devastating comment that appeared on the chicago faculty blog:

    “The project seems ill-conceived. It’s an odd view of law and literature that would regard judicial empathy as a criterion for whether the enterprise has “worked.” Most writers of fiction, most literary critics, and most scholars of law and literature show no interest in promoting empathy. For a better understanding of what law and literature seeks to do, read work by people who are regarded as moving the field ahead — such as Julie Stone Peters, Peter Brooks, Luke Wilson, Lorna Hutson, Peter Schneck, Bradin Cormack, Jane Baron, Gregg Crane, Holger Schott Syme, Simon Petch, Robert Weisberg, Clare Pettit, Ed Morgan, Paul Saint-Amour, and Robert Ferguson. These scholars are interested in how law and literature inter-relate as modes of representation and as strategies for engaging with social and philosophical problems.”

    “If you want a good sense of what is going on in the field, keep an eye out for the Modern Language Association anthology, due out soon, called Teaching Literature and Law (ed. Matthew Anderson & Catherine Frank). It will have a good mix of articles by law and English professors, some meditating on the goals of law and literature research, others exploring specific issues historically. But I doubt there will much in the way of empathy-maximization goin’ on.”

    “As to the question of citation-counting, a judge who sought to improve her vocabulary probably would not cite “Word Power Made Easy” or even some more hifalutin version of same. She would just implement what she had learned.”

  2. Joan A. Conway says:

    Given the nature of a citation, I don’t believe quoting anything else but a judicial colleague’s work would be appropriate.

    Once spent years reading fiction, I am now a non-fiction reader.

    Is there something losed in my change of direction, certainly.

    The beauty of prose is the best argument I can give you for reading fiction.

    Is there something gained to compensate reading non-fiction, I think so or I wouldn’t have acquired the habit.

    But would I substitute it for reading an opinion with judicial cites, only when I want to work on a case or when I interest has been peaked by a particular decision.

    It is after all dry, dull, and labor.

    Exactly what it is suppose to be – the Split from our emotion to our labor done to hone our thinking how the judge arrived at his decision and the support he found for his judgment.

    But ridicule can worm its way into the opinion, if it reflects an outcome we have not come to expect because of our literary conditioning, such as pediphiles getting a few hours or days in jail and being rehabilitated at the state’s expense.

    Our sense of injustice is violated and will spill over into public outrage against the judge, because his opinion lacks justice for its victim, an innocent child, with a lenient punishment.

    With this said, judicial opinions have to keep step with our literary expectations or else face an angry crowd, as they often did in the old days.