January 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

“Every trial presents its own field of maneuver, with issues rising up in different places on the terrain. Some issues reach commanding heights, others are just a gentle rise; some have evidence arrayed densely on each side, others have evidence more thin. Whatever the layout, the district court knows the ground better than we do. Its understanding comes from the front lines, whereas we are back in a headquarters tent. And thus we defer a great deal to the district court’s judgment as to whether a particular piece of evidence aligns with one issue, or another, or instead does not belong on the field at all.”  —  US v. Clay, 09-5568 6th Cir. (2012), KETHLEDGE, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

“There is in each of us a stream of tendency, whether you choose to call it philosophy or not, which gives coherence and direction to thought and action. Judges cannot escape that current any more than other mortals. All their lives, forces which they do not recognize and cannot name, have been tugging at them — inherited instincts, traditional beliefs, acquired convictions; and the resultant is an outlook on life, a conception of social needs. … In this mental background every problem finds it setting. We may try to see things as objectively as we please. None the less, we can never see them with any eyes except our own.”  —  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo.

“When we went to school we were told that we were governed by laws, not men. As a result of that, many people think there is no need to pay any attention to judicial candidates because judges merely apply the law by some mathematical formula and a good judge and a bad judge all apply the same kind of law. The fact is that the most important part of a judge’s work is the exercise of judgment and that the law in a court is never better than the common sense judgment of the judge that is presiding.”  —  US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson

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