A Penchant for Prejudice: Unraveling Bias in Judicial Decision Making

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University of Michigan Press, 1999 - Law - 197 pages
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A Penchant for Prejudice combines a detailed empirical study of the decision-making practices of judges with a sophisticated theoretical argument which exposes contemporary myths about judging and suggests methods of incorporating the inevitable bias that is detected in this and other studies. Based on a unique study of the decisions of Social Security judges, the book challenges the meaning of judicial impartiality. Linda G. Mills finds that, in practice, bias is a consistent dimension of what is considered "impartial" decision-making. The results reveal that impartiality as the legal system now defines it, is itself a form of bias, and that a historically and contextually sensitive definition of bias, one which takes account of the communities and cultures that come to be judged in the legal system, must overcome the modern dualistic notion of imparitality as the exclusion of bias in order to respond to needs of the diversity of applicants and the judges who adjudicate their claims. According to Mills, the judicial bias she found reflected in her study seems not only to essentialize and stereotype applicants but also prevents judges from engaging vulnerable claimants in a way that the legal process positively demands.
A Penchant for Prejudice will be of interest to students and scholars of law, judicial decisionmaking, and discrimination.
Linda G. Mills is Assistant Professor of Social Welfare and Law, University of California, Los Angeles.
 

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Contents

A Penchant for Prejudice
1
Unraveling Bias
13
Chapter 2 Mandate for a Uniform and Affective Justice
27
A Record of Failure
40
Empty Formalities
62
Chapter 5 Disengaging Discourses
101
Signifiers of Stereotyping
132
Planning for Prejudice
148
Notes
165
Table of Claimants Cases
173
References
175
Table of Codes Regulations Rulings and Rules
183
Table of Cases
185
Index
189
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