The Architecture of Judicial Ethics

In 1999, Professor Stephen Burbank wrote an article entitled The Architecture of Judicial Independence.It is a foundational piece that gave structure to what was then an understudied field. At the heart of that article is a profound insight: stable and enduring judicial systems are the product of forces in constructive tension. Thus, in the context of judicial administration, Burbank conceptualized judicial independence with reference to judicial accountability, and characterized pressure points in the relationship between them as complementary, not contradictory; and in later work, he made a similar point about the interplay between the law and policy in judicial decisionmaking. I could pay homage to Steve in this symposium by praising his many contributions to our understanding of judicial administration and decisionmaking. But I did that recently in the online edition of this law review,and I am concerned that if I gave his ego yet another pump, his head would pop and deflate when he cut himself shaving. Instead, my ambition for this Article is to honor Steve’s scholarly legacy by emulating his approach to illuminate the architecture of an under-theorized subset of the judicial independence and accountability literature: judicial ethics.

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