Benjamin Barton, professor of law, has taught at the University of Tennessee College of Law since 2001 and has been Director of Clinical Programs since 2007.
In his recently published work, The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System (Cambridge 2011), Professor Barton makes a far-reaching argument about the nature of the American justice system. His argument begins with the deceptively simple observation that virtually all American judges are former lawyers. Barton argues that there are important and unexplored ramifications from this fact.
The book argues that these lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and that this bias has far-reaching and deleterious effects on American law.
There are many reasons for this bias, some obvious and some subtle. Fundamentally, it occurs because – regardless of political affiliation, race, or gender – every American judge shares a single characteristic: a career as a lawyer.
This shared background results in the lawyer-judge bias. The book begins with a theoretical explanation of why judges naturally favor the interests of the legal profession and follows with case law examples from diverse areas, including legal ethics, criminal procedure, constitutional law, torts, evidence, and the business of law. The book closes with a case study of the Enron fiasco, an argument that the lawyer-judge bias has contributed to the overweening complexity of American law, and suggests some possible solutions.
Benjamin H. Barton, The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System (Cambridge University Press 2011).
Benjamin H. Barton, The Lawyer-Judge Hypothesis, in The Pursuit of Justice: Law and Economics of Legal Systems (Edward J. Lopez, ed., Palgrave 2010).
Benjamin H. Barton, Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucracy, in Harry Potter and the Law (Jeffrey E. Thomas, ed., Carolina Academic Press 2010).
Benjamin H. Barton & Stephanos Bibas, Triaging Appointed-Counsel Funding and Pro Se Access to Justice, 160 U. Penn. L. Rev. __ (2012).
Benjamin H. Barton, An Article I Theory of the Inherent Powers of the Federal Courts, 61 Cath. U. L. Rev. __ (2011).
Benjamin H. Barton, Against Civil Gideon (and for Pro Se Court Reform), 62 Fla. L. Rev. 1227 (2010).
Benjamin H. Barton, Is There a Correlation Between Law Professor Publication Counts, Law Review Citation Counts, and Teaching Evaluations? An Empirical Study, 5 J. Empirical L. Stud. 619-44 (2008).
Benjamin H. Barton, A Tale of Two Case Methods, 75 Tenn. L. Rev. 233-50 (2008). As featured in the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
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