Reflections on Judging
LJ Reviews 2013 September #1
Posner (circuit judge, U.S. Court of Appeals; How Judges Think) uses his judicial experience as a platform for an in-depth discussion of the challenges facing the federal judiciary, chief among them the growing complexity of federal cases. He examines the impact of complexity as it pertains to the subject matter of cases being heard and as it exists in courts' own systems, habits, and traditions. He analyzes the difference between legal formalism (adherence to established principles for interpretation of laws and the Constitution) and legal realism (fact- and context-based jurisprudence) and advocates for a wider application of the latter. There is an excellent chapter in which the author indicts appellate opinion writing as needlessly verbose, esoteric, and rich in "gratuitous internal complexity." He proffers solutions to bad writing with rigorous yet practical guidelines for improvement, which, though directed toward appellate opinion writers, might be applied in all legal writing. Posner is a precise, erudite writer with a strong point of view enriched by specific examples accumulated over the course of three decades of professional experience and observation. VERDICT Posner's insights will resonate with jurists and those who practice before them. His book is highly recommended for those in the legal profession and other court watchers.—Joan Pedzich, formerly with Harris Beach PLLC, Pittsford, NY[Page 127]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.