Friday, April 2, 2010

Oldfather on Domnarski, Federal Judges Revealed

William Domnarski, Federal Judges Revealed, is reviewed by Chad M. Oldfather, Marquette University Law School, in George Washington Law Review Arguendo. Here's the book description and blurb:
The power and influence of the federal judiciary has been widely discussed and understood. And while there have been a fair number of institutional studies-studies of individual district courts or courts of appeal--there have been very few studies of the judiciary that emphasize the judges themselves. Federal Judges Revealed considers approximately one hundred oral histories of Article Three judges, extracting the most important information, and organizing it around a series of presented topics such as "How judges write their opinions" and "What judges believe make a good lawyer."
Note that the oral histories relied on by the author are often collected in U.S. circuit and district court libraries.
"Federal Judges Revealed offers a captivating look inside the personal and professional lives of judges as well as insight into the workings of the federal judicial system as a whole. Domnarski has done the legal community a service by collecting this information and organizing it into a cohesive and readable whole."
--Emily Judge, The Federal Lawyer
Here's Oldfather's abstract:
This essay, which is a review of William Domnarski’s “Federal Judges Revealed” (Oxford University Press, 2008), explores the usefulness of oral history as a vehicle for understanding the judiciary. “Federal Judges Revealed” presents the insights gleaned from a study of over 100 oral histories given by Article III judges, ranging across the span of the judges’ lives. The essay first explores the methodological strengths and weaknesses of oral history as a general matter, and then further develops the analysis through a review of three oral histories given by the late Seventh Circuit Judge Thomas Fairchild. The essay then turns specifically to Domnarski’s book, outlining the ways in which it contributes to our understanding of judges and the judiciary.