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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77029 Find in a Library
Title: Jeffersonian/Hamiltonian Duality - A Framework for Understanding Reforms in the Administration of Justice
Journal: Judicature  Volume:64  Issue:10  Dated:(May 1981)  Pages:450-462
Author(s): P Nejelski
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 13
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Current justice system reforms concerning the administration of justice (i.e., the jury's role, selection and removal of judges, etc.) are interpreted in view of the historical tension between Jefferson's populism and Hamilton's autocratic notions.
Abstract: Those who take the strongest position in favor of judicial autonomy and the rights and privileges of individual judges are the proper descendants of the Hamiltonians. In contrast, a modern Jeffersonian would be more willing to work with others outside the judiciary. The Hamiltonian/Jeffersonian distinction is helpful in studying current justice system problems. For example, there has been a strong move to eliminate separate courts of limited jurisdiction, especially justices of the peace, who are often nonlawyers. This move against decentralization is opposed on the grounds that the justice of the peace is closer to the people and not subject to the elitism of law-trained judges. The institution of the jury has also been under severe attack as causing such problems as unjustifiably high verdicts or irrational decisions, especially in cases involving medical malpractice. However, the jury service is one of the few links the courts have with the general population. Lawyers are naturally a bridge between the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian extremes. They are both members of the legal profession and officers of the court, but they spend a great deal of their time working with and for the public. They translate their clients' concern about the cost and delay in today's litigation into searches for alternatives to courts, such as arbitration and neighborhod justice centers. To reach an optimal position, the administration of justice may need to combine Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian values and preserve neutrality and independence of the courts, while at the same time maximizing participation from the outside. Hamiltonian indepencence and stability may become static formalism unless enriched on occasion by an infusion of Jeffersonian principles and strategies. The resulting tension has produced a distinctively American justice system. Historical background and 54 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Attorneys; Court reform; Decentralization; Judges; Juries; Political influences
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