U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California. Photo by Jason Doiy.

 

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The University of California, Berkeley School of Law is launching a new initiative centered on the judiciary that will bring together law faculty, judges and other researchers to examine the myriad challenges judges face.

The Berkeley Judicial Institute aims to provide education and resources for judges, while also helping legal educators and law students better understand the inner workings of the judiciary. The law school has snagged a big name to run the project: U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of the Northern District of California. Fogel has helmed the Federal Judicial Center for nearly seven years. That center oversees research and education for the federal judiciary.

“We have the opportunity to be a leader in research and training on the crucial issues of judicial independence and judicial integrity,” said Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “In Judge Jeremy Fogel, we truly have the ideal person to lead the institute.”

The institute, which will open in September, is funded with a donation from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and other donors. It will build upon the Bay Area law school’s existing judicial education program, which focuses on intellectual property seminars for judges. The school’s Center for Law & Technology is also in the process of developing a series of technology webinars in collaboration with the Federal Judicial Center.

The new institute will help bridge the divide between the legal academy and the bench, Fogel said.

“One of the things I’ve become acutely aware of as a judge and director of the FJC is that there is far less synergy and collaboration between the legal academy and the judiciary than is needed,” Fogel said. “Our ability to partner with each other about immediate concerns is limited. Academics can do wonderful research, but it doesn’t always connect with judges.”

The institute also plans to examine the personal issue judges face, which are rarely discussed publicly. That includes how judges deal with stress, isolation and the criticism they face from the public.

“What happens when judges are attacked for their rulings?” Fogel said. “How do we deal with that? How do we come to terms with that?”

The institute will also conduct research on what makes judges good and effective, as well as the opposite.

“The challenges and daily work of judges should be central to the legal academy,’’ said Berkeley law professor Peter Menell, who has been running intellectual property programming for judges since 1998. “[The institute] will bring judges more directly into collaboration with legal scholars. Our parallel goal is to encourage legal scholars and social scientists at Berkeley and around the nation to study the role of case management in improving administration of justice.”