UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
The question of how to optimally design judicial institutions is one of central importance to the scholarship focused on courts. Basic questions such as whether there should be mandatory retirement for judges, whether judges should be expected to write their own opinions and whether greater racial or gender diversity on the courts improves decision making are optimal design questions. Given the vast variation in the types of judicial system designs used around the world (and even within the United States), it should be possible to conduct a comparative analysis of the relative efficacy of the different designs. These comparisons cannot be evaluated, however, without first tackling the matter of how to measure justice or judicial performance. Although within the legal academy and the judiciary there is considerable skepticism and hostility to the measurement project, we argue that the project is worth attempting for both judges and academics. That said, the simple measures often used today, while necessary, cannot be relied on exclusively. To achieve a more reliable and useful measurement, judges must be involved in the process of arriving at the right characteristics to measure and the right ways to measure them. If judges get involved in improving the quality of data collection and measurement, the inherent dangers in empirical analysis of the judiciary will both be recognized and more effectively navigated. At the same time, empirical analysis with judicial participation is more likely to assist judges and judicial policymakers.