The Judicial Ethics Forum (JEF)

An Academic Discussion of Judicial Ethics, Discipline & Disqualification

Leib et al. on Judges as Fiduciaries

Posted by judicialethicsforum on Friday, May, 11, 2012

Here is a very interesting new piece on judicial theory from Leib (Fordham) and coauthors.  The abstract follows:

For centuries, legal theorists and political philosophers have unsuccessfully sought a unified theory of judging able to account for the diverse, and oftentimes conflicting, responsibilities judges possess. How do we reconcile the call of judicial independence — a function of a judge’s obligation to uphold the rule of law — with that of judicial responsiveness — the obligation that, as a branch of government in a democratic polity, judges must ensure that the law not derogate too far from the will of the people? This paper reveals how the law governing fiduciary relationships sheds new light on this age-old quandary, and therefore, on the very nature of the judicial office itself. In so doing, the paper first explores the routinely overlooked, yet deeply embedded historical provenance of our judges-as-fiduciaries framework in American political thought and in the framing of the U.S. Constitution. It then explains why a fiduciary theory of judging offers important insight into what it means to be a judge in a democracy, while providing practical guidance in resolving a range of controversial and hotly contested legal issues surrounding judicial performance, such as judicial ethics at the Supreme Court, campaign contributions in state judicial elections, and the role of public opinion in constitutional interpretation.

For the full article, click here; Leib et al., A Fiduciary Theory of Judging, 101 Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013). 

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