Monday, October 14, 2013

Legal Realism: The Law Depends on What the Judge Had for Breakfast

Leading Legal realist Judge Jerome Frank is credited with the phrase that "Justice is what the judge ate for breakfast."  I have never tracked down that precise quote from him but perhaps it is drawn from this passage found at p.162 of my well worn copy of Courts on Trial:

Out of my own experience as a trial lawyer, I can testify that a trial judge, because of overeating at lunch, may be somnolent in the afternoon court-session that he fails to hear an important item of testimony and so disregards it when deciding the case. “The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang that juryman may dine,” wrote Pope.  Dickens’ lovers well remember Perker’s advice to Pickwick: “A good, contented, well-breakfasted juryman, is a capital thing to get hold of.  Discontented or hungry jurymen, my dear sir, always find for the plaintiff.”
What happens if the judge had a "dicey looking breakfast burrito this morning and just took an imodium?"  See the video below:

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