Shima Baradaran & Frank L. McIntyre
90 Texas L. Rev. 497
The last several years have seen a marked rise in state and federal pretrial detention rates. There has been very little scholarly analysis of whether increased detention is reducing crime, and the discussion that has taken place has largely relied on small-scale local studies with conflicting results. This Article asks whether the United States is making substantially mistaken judgments about who is likely to commit crimes while on pretrial release and whether we are detaining the right people. Relying on the largest dataset of pretrial defendants in the United States, this Article determines what factors, if any, are relevant to predicting “dangerousness” pretrial and what percentage of defendants can be released safely before trial. Prior work in this area disagrees as to whether the current charge or past convictions are relevant predictors of future crimes, whether flight risk is linked to pretrial violence, and whether judges can accurately predict which defendants are dangerous. This Article— for the first time—relies on empirical methods and a nationally representative fifteen-year dataset of over 100,000 defendants to determine what factors are reliable predictors of who will commit pretrial crime. This analysis suggests two important conclusions: First, judges often detain the wrong people. Judges often overhold older defendants, defendants with clean records, and defendants charged with fraud and public-order offenses. Second, using our model, judges would be able to release 25% more defendants while decreasing both violent crime and total pretrial crime rates.
Alexandra D. Lahav
90 Texas L. Rev. 571
The civil justice system tolerates inconsistent outcomes in cases brought by similarly situated litigants. One reason for this is that in cases such as Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes,1 the Supreme Court has increasingly emphasized liberty over equality. Litigants’ right to a “day in court” has overshadowed their right to equal treatment. However, an emerging jurisprudence at the district court level is asserting the importance of what this Article calls “outcome equality”—similar results reached in similar cases. Taking the example of mass tort litigation, this Article explains how innovative procedures such as sampling are a solution to the problem of inconsistent outcomes. Outcome equality, achieved through statistical adjudication, is gaining force on the ground. Despite the Supreme Court’s principled stance in favor of liberty in a series of recent opinions, a victory for outcome equality is good for our civil justice system.
To date, the discussion about civil-litigation reform has focused on the conflict between the individual’s right to participation and society’s interest in the efficient disposition of the great volume of outstanding litigation. This conflict is real and is particularly troublesome in mass torts, where tens of thousands of plaintiffs file related cases, making it impossible for the courts to hold a hearing for each claimant. But the fixation on this conflict ignores the fact that an individual’s right to equal treatment is also a critical value and can conflict with the individual’s right to participation. This Article reframes the debate about procedural justice in the mass tort context as a conflict between liberty and equality rather than liberty and efficiency. The rights at stake are not only the individual’s right to a day in court to pursue his claim as he wishes, but also the right to be treated as others in similar circumstances are treated.
This Article defends district court attempts to achieve equality among litigants by adopting statistical methods and advocates greater rigor in the use of these methods so that courts can more effectively promote outcome equality.
Anthony V. Alfieri
90 Texas L. Rev. 635
This Review offers an ethical defense of community lawyering against the backdrop of W. Bradley Wendel’s important new book, Lawyers and Fidelity to Law. Alfieri feels that by defending a theory of legal ethics that places fidelity to law instead of client or community interests at the core of lawyers’ obligations, Wendel seeks to rehabilitate the idea of legitimacy as a normative ideal for lawyers and to channel lawyers into a formal, procedural system of advocacy and counseling largely independent of substantive-justice objectives. He argues that Wendel’s transformation of the evaluative framework of legal ethics from the concerns of ordinary morality and substantive justice to the considerations of political legitimacy and process-oriented legality exposes community lawyers to new terms of normative criticism and erodes the justification of their crucial work in American law and society.
Katherine R. Kruse
90 Texas L. Rev. 657
In Fidelity to Law, Wendel presents and defends such a comprehensive theory of lawyering with two interrelated arguments: a functional argument that law deserves respect because of its capacity to settle normative controversy in a morally pluralistic society and a normative argument that law deserves respect because democratic lawmaking processes respect the equality and dignity of citizens. Professor Kruse’s review focuses on one of the links in the chain of Wendel’s normative-all-the-way-down argument: his move from the premise of moral pluralism to his conclusion that the function of law is to settle normative controversy in society. Kruse questions Wendel’s move on both practical and theoretical grounds. While Wendel argues that we need to settle such controversies so that we can move on and organize our affairs despite our deep disagreement about values, Kruse argues that efforts to unsettle law need not be seen as a threat, and that the continual ebb and flow of normative controversy should be viewed as an incident of — rather than an impediment to — a free and just society.
90 Texas L. Rev. 673
In his review of W. Bradley Wendel’s Lawyers and Fidelity to Law, Professor David Luban classifies the book as a major work that deserves careful study. However, he finds Wendel’s position to be one of “decency at odds with itself.” He points out that Wendel recognizes deep problems in our legal institutions, and yet advocates near absolute obedience to that authority. After examining the inconsistency in Wendel’s approach, Luban concludes that while fidelity to law is a virtue, it is no substitute for conscience.
Stephen L. Pepper
90 Texas L. Rev. 691
William H. Simon
90 Texas L. Rev. 709
In his Review of Bradley Wendel’s Lawyers and Fidelity to Law, Professor Simon addresses the authoritarian theme that he identifies as persistent throughout the book. He argues that neither libertarianism nor authoritarianism is a plausible starting point for a general approach to legal ethics. Further, he feels that in gesturing toward positivism and surrendering to less reflective authoritarian impulses, Wendel’s argument underestimates the extent to which social order depends on informal as well as formal norms and adopts a utopian attitude toward constituted power. He concludes that the book treats as analytical propositions what are in fact empirical assertions for which Wendel has no evidence.
W. Bradley Wendel
90 Texas L. Rev. 727
Professor Wendel responds to five professors who critically reviewed his recent book, Lawyers and Fidelity to Law.
Sidney K. Smith
90 Texas L. Rev. 743
This Note proposes that Congress should enact a federal standard of forum non conveniens that would preempt state forum non conveniens law in transnational cases. A legislative standard of forum non conveniens would clarify the federal doctrine and assist in resolving the myriad circuit splits surrounding forum non conveniens in federal court. Additionally, the federal standard would preempt state forum non conveniens law in transnational cases, creating uniformity between the state and federal courts. Not only
would a uniform standard limit the endless forum jockeying of both plaintiffs and defendants in these cases, it would also allow more federal control over cases that potentially implicate important foreign-relations issues.
Joyce Y. Young
90 Texas L. Rev. 771
Domestic violence entered the public consciousness during the 1970s, and activists’ demands for attention and redress since then have brought about many changes in the law’s response to abuse within the family. This Note examines the beginning of what may become a new trend in legal responses to domestic violence: legislation establishing databases or registries of domestic abusers. Though no law has yet been passed to create such a database, several states have proposed variations of it. This Note examines Texas and New York, two states in which these databases were recently proposed, as model jurisdictions for analyzing the databases’ possible pros and cons. It first discusses feminist goals in the reformation of legal responses to domestic violence and concludes that a statewide database is a necessary and effective way of continuing the reform effort. It then appraises the possible criticisms that such a database would face and proposes a solution based on a preexisting program that many states already implement. Finally, it delves into the question of cost and posits that the benefits derived from a domestic violence database would greatly outweigh any monetary burdens it might impose.