The Socialization of New Federal Judges: Impact on District Court Business


For ten years the federal court system has offered an introductory seminar to newly appointed district (trial) judges. The manifest purpose of the seminars is to prepare the neophyte federal judge to share the caseload of his district with maximum efficiency by training him in the newest techniques of case processing. The seminars are an experiment in specific socialization to the requirements of the judicial role, since “the craft of judging is neither taught in the course of university legal education nor learned by experience as a lawyer.” This study first examines the related forces—heavy caseloads and omnibus judgeship acts—which impelled the judicial system to develop a socialization program for its new members. Next it traces the impact of the seminar training upon judicial output by comparing the statistical record of multi-judge districts with larger and smaller percentages of “educated” members. Then other socialization factors, such as prior position and judicial leadership experiences, are included in the analysis.



Beverly Blair Cook (University of Wisconsin)



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