Emotional Regulation and Judicial Behavior

Emotional Regulation and Judicial Behavior


Judges are human and experience emotion when hearing cases, though the standard account of judging long has denied that fact. In the post-realist era it is possible to acknowledge that judges have emotional reactions to their work, yet our legal culture continues to insist that a good judge firmly puts those reactions aside. Thus, we expect judges to regulate their emotions, either by preventing emotion’s emergence or by walling off its influence. But judges are given precisely no direction as to how to engage in emotional regulation.

This Article proposes a model for judicial emotion regulation that goes beyond a blanket admonition to “put emotion aside.” While legal discourse on judicial emotion has been stunted, scientific study of the processes of emotion regulation has been robust. By bringing these literatures together for the first time, the Article reveals that our legal culture does nothing to promote intelligent judicial emotion regulation and much to discourage it.

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