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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77015 Find in a Library
Title: Federal District Judges - An Analysis of Judicial Perceptions
Author(s): W I Kitchin
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 219
Sale Source: College Readings, Inc
12916 Popes Head Road
Clifton, VA 22024
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study focuses on the two primary aspects of role -- perceptions and behavior -- in order to understand the activities of Federal district court judges.
Abstract: The sample consisted of 21 judges who were selected from the first, second, third, and fourth circuits located in 13 towns and cities in 8 different States. Most of the study data were gathered via indepth, personal interviews with the judges. The form and content of the questionnaire were based on the experience of other researchers and on additional independent research. Eight background variables, including age, education, solitariness, political party, tenure, occupation prior to appointment, legal experience, and circuit, were statistically tested for the strength of their relationships to various role perception variables gained during the interviews. Of the eight background variables, all but occupation immediately prior to appointment and circuit contain suficient range of variation that meaningful exploration of the relationship of these variables to role perceptions was possible. Study findings reveal that the presence of two basic role orientations means that there is some potential for role conflict for a district judge. The process orientation places the highest importance on completing cases and reducing backlog. The result orientation places priority of fair and just resolution of individual cases. No judges interviewed were overly concerned with this potential conflict. Most Federal and State judges do not believe that it is their job to make law. The only exception to this is the Supreme Court, and even its role in making law is not clearly articulated by interviewed judges. When deciding cases, district judges say that they are influenced most by the facts of the case, precedent, their own research, and common sense. They are influenced least by interest group petitions, the nature and identity of the parties to the litigation, statements by respected advocates, and community values. Personal views of justice are important in the decisionmaking process. Most judges interviewed felt that they have little impact on public policy, primarily because of the nature of the caseload at the trial level. Primary administrative concerns to district judges include caseload management, case control techniques, personnel management, local committees, and pretrial conferences. Footnotes, 22 tables, and 9 figures are provided. Study data characteristics and interview schedule and assessment are appended. A selected bibliography of approximately 135 references is included.
Index Term(s): District Courts; Judges; Judicial discretion; Policy; Role conflict; Role perception; Studies
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