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Vanderbilt University professor Terry Maroney during a Berkeley Law webinar titled “Judicial Temperament” (Photo: Courtesy Photo) Vanderbilt University professor Terry Maroney during a Berkeley Law webinar titled “Judicial Temperament.” (Photo: Courtesy Photo)

Temperamentally speaking, what should we be looking for in our judges?

In an academic paper published in the Boston College Law Review last month, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr litigator-turned-law professor Terry Maroney of Vanderbilt University says that the problem is something of a definitional one: We have two traditional ways of defining what “judicial temperament” is. The first is to set out a laundry list of desirable traits—think compassion, decisiveness, open-mindedness, courtesy, patience, and the like—without saying what, if anything links the things on that list. The other approach, she says, treats judicial temperament as some mystical quality that either a potential jurist has or lacks.

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