EDWARDS STUMPS FOR COLLEGIAL COURTS
When Harry T. Edwards joined the federal bench in Washington, D.C.,
in 1980, the court was fractious and riven by political factions.
So much so that, when he first joined the court, a liberal judge
approached him to ask if he could count on Edwards’ support. Today
things are different, as the court has become more of a model of
Why the turnaround? Edwards, former Chief Judge and current Circuit
Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit, credits collegiality, which he described in a February
lecture at Penn Law as an “atmosphere of civility and respect” free
from political considerations.
Edwards, who published a paper on The Effects of Collegiality
on Judicial Decision Making in the May 2003 issue of the University
of Pennsylvania Law Review, deflected criticism that collegiality
leads to acquiescence and reluctance to challenge colleagues’ opinions.
From his experience, quite the opposite occurs. “On the DC Circuit
… not only do judges accept feedback from colleagues on draft opinions;
they welcome it,” said Edwards, who presented ILE’s Distinguished
Jurist Lecture. “They might even be disappointed if none were forthcoming.”
In fact, Edwards believes collegiality fosters better - and more impartial
- judicial decisions. It enables judges to focus on positive law,
precedent, case record and the parties’ arguments rather than on ideology,
which tends to promote partisan decisions, particularly when judges
feel beholden to the politicians who appoint them. “The deliberative
process is richer and fuller because of collegiality, so the decisions
are the product of more rigorous, challenging and thorough discussion,”
Visiting with Edwards before his lecture are left to right: Michael L. Wachter,
Co-Director of the Institute of Law and Economics; Michael A. Fitts, Dean of Penn Law School; and Edward B. Rock,
Co-Director of the Institute of Law and Economics.
Edwards mentioned one other benefit: Collegiality has reduced the
need for dissents in the D.C. court because all viewpoints are aired
and considered before decisions are reached.
MOCK COURT WEIGHS CORPORATE TAKEOVER CASE
Since his state is one of the epicenters of company incorporations,
Vice Chancellor Leo E. Strine Jr. L’88 regularly makes and shapes
corporate case law. He put that expertise to use last March when
he presided over a mock court hearing on the Classified Board/Poison
Pill debate at Penn Law.
Jay B. Kasner, a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meager & Flom in
New York, represented the plaintiff in the hypothetical case and
Theodore N. Mirvis represented the defendant. Mirvis is a partner
at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz in New York.
During the arguments, students got an up-close look at the issues
involved in corporate takeovers. A panel discussion moderated by
ILE Co-Director Michael L. Wachter followed.