Blindfolds Off: Judges On How They Decide

Blindfolds Off: Judges On How They Decide

by Joel Cohen


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Remarkably little is known to the general public, or even to the practicing legal profession, about judges—how they decide cases, how they allocate work between staff and themselves, their work ethic, their psychology, the extralegal influences that play on them.

This important new book penetrates that veil of secrecy with thirteen interviews tape recorded in the chambers of the respective judges. The author, Mr. Joel Cohen, who practices at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP in New York, is a skillful and tenacious, though invariably courteous, interviewer. He has picked as the interviewees federal district judges who have presided in famous, publicity-attracting cases, cases most likely to challenge a judge’s fidelity to a passive, formalistic—which is to say traditional—mode of judicial decision making, and he has focused the interviews on those cases.

The book features selected specific, well known cases for the free-flowing dialogues which follow, from the thousands of cases to which these thirteen judges have been assigned. These are cases which have raised critical questions about justice, policy, precedent and the law and the way in which the currents and tides of their lives and of our ever-changing society have influenced those rulings.

You'll discover if the judges have been open, even aware, of what experiences have influenced their rulings, and where judges acknowledge awareness of these potential influences—of their "priors" as Judge Posner would articulate it—are they fully candid, to themselves and others, about whether, and to what degree, it has informed their rulings? Or have they contrarily decided, after inwardly acknowledging the "awareness," that they can or did fairly decide the case, so that they needn’t publicly reveal themselves?

If you are even remotely curious about how judges make decisions, this book provides some eye-opening interviews that will shed light on their decision-making process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781627226790
Publisher: American Bar Association
Publication date: 10/07/2014
Pages: 339
Sales rank: 1,013,953
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Joel Cohen is a highly respected white collar criminal defense lawyer in New York. He was, for 10 years previously, a prosecutor with the New York State Special Prosecutor's Office and then with the U.S. Justice Department's Organized Crime & Racketeering Section in the Eastern District of New York. He resides in New York City, NY.

Table of Contents

Praise for Blindfolds Off and Joel Cohen i

About the Author xiii

Foreword Judge Richard A. Posner xv

Acknowledgments xix

Preface xxi

Author's Note xxvii

Chapter 1 Judge Leonie Brinkema 1

The Moussaoui Terrorism Case 2

The Dialogue 6

Chapter 2 Judge Denny Chin 29

Madoff: Why 150 Years? 30

The Dialogue 34

Chapter 3 Judge Martin Feldman 51

DeepWater Horizon 52

The Dialogue 55

Chapter 4 Judge Nancy Gertner 73

Upbraiding the FBI 75

The Dialogue 79

Chapter 5 Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein 101

Managing and Settling the 9/11 Tort Cases 102

The Dialogue 106

Chapter 6 Judge David Hittner 125

An Inner City Project's Demolition 126

The Dialogue 129

Chapter 7 Judge John E. Jones III 143

Intelligent Design 145

The Dialogue 149

Chapter 8 Judge Charles P. Kocoras 169

The Failed Expert 170

The Dialogue 174

Chapter 9 Chief Judge Alex Kozinski 189

Judging from the "Bully Pulpit" 191

The Dialogue 194

Chapter 10 Judge Jed S. Rahoff 211

Death Is Different 212

The Dialogue 217

Chapter 11 Judge Emmet G. Sullivan 231

Guilt, Innocence, and Prosecutorial Misconduct 233

The Dialogue 237

Chapter 12 Judge Vaughn R. Walker 253

Same-Sex Marriage 255

The Dialogue 258

Chapter 13 Judge Jack B. Weinstein 279

Agent Orange 281

The Dialogue 284

Epilogue 295

Excerpt from The Nature of the Judicial Process 297

Case Citations 299

Judge Leonie Brinkema 299

Judge Denny Chin 299

Judge Martin Feldman 299

Judge Nancy Gertner 299

Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein 299

Judge David Hittner 300

Judge John E. Jones III 300

Judge Charles P Kocoras 300

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski 300

Judge Jed S. Rakoff 300

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan 301

Judge Vaughn R. Walker 301

Judge Jack B. Weinstein 301

Index 303

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