Evolution of the Judicial Opinion: Institutional and Individual Styles

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NYU Press, Oct 1, 2007 - Law - 301 pages
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In this sweeping study of the judicial opinion, William D. Popkin examines how judges' opinions have been presented from the early American Republic to the present. Throughout history, he maintains, judges have presented their opinions within political contexts that involve projecting judicial authority to the external public, yet within a professional legal culture that requires opinions to develop judicial law through particular institutional and individual judicial styles.

Tracing the history of judicial opinion from its roots in English common law, Popkin documents a general shift from unofficially reported oral opinions, to semi-official reports, to the U.S. Supreme Court's adoption in the early nineteenth century of generally unanimous opinions. While this institutional base was firmly established by the twentieth century, Popkin suggests that the modern U.S. judicial opinion has reverted—in some respects—to one in which each judge expresses an individual point of view. Ultimately, he concludes that a shift from an authoritative to a more personal and exploratory individual style of writing opinions is consistent with a more democratic judicial institution.

 

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User Review  - LeeCheek - LibraryThing

This book analyzes the evolution of "the public face of the judiciary," judicial opinions. The central theme of Popkin's (Indiana University) enterprise is to interpret how judges' present their ... Read full review

Contents

1 The English Tradition and Its Evolution
6
Creation of a Judicial Institution
43
US Supreme Court
60
States
86
Institutional Practice
108
Individual Style
142
Postscript
179
Appendices
183
Notes
245
Index
293
About the Author
301
Copyright

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Page 12 - The fact is Lord Coke had no authority for what he states, but I am afraid we should get rid of a good deal of what is considered law in Westminster Hall if what Lord Coke says without authority is not law. He was one of the most eminent lawyers that ever presided as a judge in any court of justice, and what is said by such a person is good evidence of what the law is, particularly when it is in conformity with justice and common sense.

About the author (2007)

William D. Popkin is Walter W. Foskett Professor Emeritus of Law at Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington. He is the author of Statutes in Court: The History and Theory of Statutory Interpretation.

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