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Other titles in the Studies in Law and Economics series:
Measuring Judicial Independence: The Political Economy of Judging in Japanby J. Mark Ramseyer
Synopses & Reviews
The role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election raised questions in the minds of many Americans about the relationships between judges and political influence; the following years saw equally heated debates over the appropriate role of political ideology in selecting federal judges. Legal scholars have always debated these questionsand#8212;asking, in effect, how much judicial systems operate on merit and principle and how much they are shaped by politics.
The Japanese Constitution, like many others, requires that all judges be "independent in the exercise of their conscience and bound only by this Constitution and its laws." Consistent with this requirement, Japanese courts have long enjoyed a reputation for vigilant independenceand#8212;an idea challenged only occasionally, and most often anecdotally. But in this book, J. Mark Ramseyer and Eric B. Rasmusen use the latest statistical techniques to examine whether that reputation always holds up to scrutinyand#8212;whether, and to what extent, the careers of lower court judges can be manipulated to political advantage.
On the basis of careful econometric analysis of career data for hundreds of judges, Ramseyer and Rasmusen find that Japanese politics do influence judicial careers, discreetly and indirectly: judges who decide politically charged cases in ways favored by the ruling party enjoy better careers after their decisions than might otherwise be expected, while dissenting judges are more likely to find their careers hampered by assignments to less desirable positions.
Ramseyer and Rasmusen's sophisticated yet accessible analysis has much to offer anyone interested in either judicial independence or the application of econometric techniques in the social sciences.
Japanese society is as legalistic and rulebound as that of the US, yet Japanese people file far fewer lawsuits than Americans.and#160; Explanations for this behavior range from circular arguments about Japanese culture to suggestions that the Japanese court system is so slow-moving and unfriendly to plaintiffs that everyone knows better than to engage in it.and#160; However, there is much more to civil litigation in Japan, as preeminent scholar of Japanese law J. Mark Ramseyer explains in Doing Well by Making Do: Second-Best Judging in Japanese Law.and#160; With illustrations drawn from tort claims across many domainsand#151;auto accidents, product liability, medical malpractice, landlord-tenant law, and moreand#151;Ramseyer shows that the low rate of lawsuits in Japan is compelled not by distrust of a dysfunctional system, but by a system that sorts and resolves disputes in such an overwhelmingly predictable pattern that only rarely do contesting parties find it worthwhile to involve themselves in the uncertainty of a trial.and#160; Japanese judges do not pretend to offer the level of particularized inquiry that one expects in American courts.and#160; The Japanese court system is not designed to find perfect justice.and#160; It is designed to and#147;make do.and#8221;and#160; Through close attention to key arenas of tort litigation, as well as more obscure corners of the law including labor, landlord-tenant, and consumer-finance disputes, Doing Well by Making Do offers a key to unlocking the aims, incentives, flaws, and virtues of the distinctive Japanese court system.
Itandrsquo;s long been known that Japanese file fewer lawsuits per capita than Americans do. Yet explanations for the difference have tended to be partial and unconvincing, ranging from circular arguments about Japanese culture to suggestions that the slow-moving Japanese court system acts as a deterrent.
Withand#160;Second-Best Justice, J. Mark Ramseyer offers a more compelling, better-grounded explanation: the low rate of lawsuits in Japan results not from distrust of a dysfunctional system but from trust in a system that worksandmdash;that sorts and resolves disputes in such an overwhelmingly predictable pattern that opposing parties rarely find it worthwhile to push their dispute to trial. Using evidence from tort claims across many domains, Ramseyer reveals a court system designed not to find perfect justice, but to andldquo;make doandrdquo;andmdash;to adopt strategies that are mostly right and that thereby resolve disputes quickly and economically.
An eye-opening study of comparative law,and#160;Second-Best Justiceand#160;will force a wholesale rethinking of the differences among alternative legal systems and their broader consequences for social welfare.and#160;
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroduction: 19681. The Setting2. Preliminary Empirics: Methodology and Communist Judges3. The Effect of Judicial Decisions: Anti-Government Opinions and Electoral Law Disputes4. Political Disputes: Military, Malapportionment, Injunctions, and Constitutional Law5. Administrative Disputes: Taxpayers against the Government6. Criminal Cases: Suspects against the Government7. Toward a Party-Alternation Theory of Comparative Judicial Independence8. ConclusionsAppendixesReferencesIndex
About the Author
J. Mark Ramseyer is the Mitsubishi Professor of Japanese Legal Studies at Harvard Law School. He is coauthor of the award-winning Japanese Law: An Economic Approach, published by the University of Chicago Press.
Eric B. Rasmusen is the University Foundation Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He is the author of the widely used textbook Games and Information.
Table of Contents
1. The Setting
2. Preliminary Empirics: Methodology and Communist Judges
3. The Effect of Judicial Decisions: Anti-Government Opinions and Electoral Law Disputes
4. Political Disputes: Military, Malapportionment, Injunctions, and Constitutional Law
5. Administrative Disputes: Taxpayers against the Government
6. Criminal Cases: Suspects against the Government
7. Toward a Party-Alternation Theory of Comparative Judicial Independence
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