Review: Judicial Reputation

Document Type

Book Review


The book is an impressive contribution to the study of judges and judicial systems. The theoretical contribution is vast, in that it articulates a vision for understanding micro-level judicial behavior and macro-level functioning of legal systems. It moves well beyond the traditional “legal traditions” argument, but not without taking seriously what that conventional wisdom has to offer. Garoupa (Texas A&M Univ.) and Ginsburg (Univ. of Chicago Law School) make a strong case for viewing the components of and incentives for various types of judicial reputation as a key factor in understanding the way judges and courts operate in different historical and environmental contexts. They investigate the sometimes conflicting need for judges to maintain individual and collective reputations. They focus specifically on the role of institutions in shaping incentives for judges. Garoupa and Ginsburg’s mixed-methods approach represents the very best of empirical research on courts. They draw on a deep well of data from judiciaries around the world, but their findings are just as applicable to questions of courts and judges of a much more local nature. Researchers and reform-minded practitioners across a wide swath of the law and courts world will find inspiration in these pages.