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Study: Judges Are Far Less Biased Than Law School Students

 
It turns out, judges in America are more adept than others at putting aside personal political leanings when doing their jobs. A group that has, at times, been accused for allegedly allowing their own ideologies, politics and religious views factor into how they handle cases might be getting sold short.
According to a forthcoming study in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, judges can come to a consensus and a middle ground on topics that polarize the general public.
The study took over two years to conduct and examined about 1,500 subjects. This included 800 adult members of the general public, 253 judges, 225 lawyers and 250 students. Every participant was given a legal problem designed to “assess their political bias.”
An example given by The Wall Street Journal was a scenario where a police officer disclosed personal information about a private citizen. The scenario made it illegal for the officer to disclose such information. The twist was, in one scenario the officer disclosed to a “family planning” abortion facility that a recent job applicant was a member of a pro-life activist group. The other scenario was set up in the inverse political bias. A police officer disclosed to an “anti-abortion” family planning center that a recent job applicant was a member of a pro-choice group. The scenario was given randomly to participants.
The study stated, “Judges of diverse cultural outlooks—ones polarized on their views of the risks of marijuana legalization, climate change, and other contested issues—converged on results in cases that strongly divided comparably diverse members of the public.”
Lawyers were close behind judges in having very little political bias—although slightly more bias than judges. Interestingly, law students were much more biased in their decision-making. They were biased nearly to the same level as the general public. This could be an encouraging sign that law school and then on-the-job training actually helps lawyers and judges separate personal biases from their professional work.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
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