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Unpublished Paper
Cause Judging
ExpressO (2013)
  • Justin Hansford

Building on the framework of “cause lawyering” scholarship, this Article explores the fact that, in a similar tradition as a “cause lawyering” law practice animated by dedication to a cause, “cause judging” exists as well. This insight has implications for judicial ethics norms. The hyper-partisan nature of modern American life has already cast doubt on the possibility that politically appointed judges can ever truly attain the “appearance of impartiality” demanded by judicial recusal standards. Instead, judicial ethics norms should embrace the fact that judges have moral and political ideals that inform their rulings when they exercise judicial discretion, and that some judges are cause judges. This acknowledgment would allow for an analysis of our judicial recusal regime that delineates between fair and unfair instances of cause juding. To illustrate, the case of United States v. Marcus Garvey and the Agent Orange case are juxtaposed, demonstrating that, in light of the reality of cause judging, an “appearance of fairness” standard would work better than the current regime. It would recognize that fair cause judging adds value to the profession in the same vein that cause lawyering does, while additionally improving public confidence in the judiciary by promoting transparency and reinforcing a sense of fairness.

  • Judicial Activism,
  • Cause Lawyering,
  • Judicial Ethics,
  • Legal History,
  • Judicial Recusal,
  • Appearance of Impartiality,
  • Impartiality,
  • Bias
Publication Date
March 18, 2013
Citation Information
Justin Hansford. "Cause Judging" ExpressO (2013)
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