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Judges Routinely Favor the Interests of the Legal Profession

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Author 13717
Message Roger Shuler
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Cross Posted at Legal Schnauzer

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We recently wrote about the legal field's status as America's only truly self-regulating profession--and made a case that such status helps breed corruption in our courtrooms.

A reader took issue with my conclusion and asked me to provide evidence to support my contention that it is a bad idea to have lawyers overseeing lawyers. This blog--through our coverage of the Don Siegelman and Paul Minor political prosecutions, plus my own legal travails--has presented ample evidence that our justice system desperately needs reform.

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But I suspected my reader wanted something more than that. So I came up with even more compelling evidence--and it comes from a member of the legal profession.

Benjamin H. Barton , an associate professor at the University of Tennessee College of Law, has written an article that asks this compelling question: "Do Judges Systematically Favor the Interests of the Legal Profession?"

Barton's answer is a resounding "yes." And he provides plenty of evidence, and insider analysis, to back it up. Many of the skewed results from American courtrooms can be described by what Barton calls the "lawyer-judge hypothesis":

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Here is my lawyer-judge hypothesis in a nutshell: many legal outcomes can be explained, and future cases predicted, by asking a very simple question: is there a plausible legal result in this case that will significantly affect the interests of the legal profession (positively or negatively)? If so, the case will be decided in the way that offers the best result for the legal profession.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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