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Many questions for Judge Richard Posner


Ron Collins has been posting an interesting many-part interview with Judge Richard Posner. Today was the fourth post, which includes a number of questions by various legal figures—journalists, judges, law professors—including me (and co-blogger Eugene).

Here's my question and Judge Posner's answer:

Professor William Baude: In your experience, how does judicial decision-making differ in different societies, and why might societies choose to have different kinds of judicial decision-making?

Judge Posner: I don't know much about foreign judiciaries, except the U.K.'s. I assume judicial decision-making varies primarily with the structure of the judiciary. In the inquisitorial systems the structure is bureaucratic; judges are appointed right after or shortly after graduation from law school (more precisely from a college major in law) to a junior judicial post and are promoted in accordance with how they are evaluated by their superiors. Procedure is informal, documentary evidence is strongly preferred, deference to legislatures greater because the legislators tend to be better disciplined. But these are just impressions.

Other tidbits in the interview include Posner's views on conflict of laws ("Conflict of law rules seem to me readily understandable in economic terms"), on appellate fact research ("I think the adversary system is overrated"), on the worst Supreme Court decisions (one of them is Chevron), on the Court's flag-burning cases ("no constitutional or pragmatic basis that I can see") and much more. It's worth reading the whole thing, and watching for future installments.