What Is So Special About Specialized Courts in the United States?

Authored by: Isaac Unah , Ryan Williams

Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913356
eBook ISBN: 9781315691527
Adobe ISBN:


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Courts and their judges are typically thought of as generalist in orientation. Yet we continue to witness in recent years a growing trend toward the creation of specialized courts that rely on judges with technical and subject-matter expertise. It is a trend found increasingly in the United States and around the world. In this chapter, we examine the nature of specialized courts and their growing popularity. We bring out the “special” in specialized courts by analyzing the power of their structural characteristics and reviewing the current state of research and theoretical development on specialized courts. We analyze the therapeutic jurisprudence movement in federal and state courts as one of the most exciting developments in judicial politics in recent years. Finally, we discuss concerns about whether specialized courts pose a threat to traditional courts. We end by discussing the possible direction of future work on judicial specialization.

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