Courts in Developed Countries

Authored by: Michael C. Tolley

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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This chapter surveys the literature on the roles and functions of courts in advanced-liberal democratic societies with high per capita income and long traditions of commitment to rule of law. Law and courts scholars examining courts in developed countries typically begin their work with the following assumptions: courts are political institutions that function in larger political systems, judges are political actors who are sometimes motivated by extra-legal policy preferences, and both popular and elite groups attempt to advance their interests in courts. The scholarly works examined here are organized around four broad themes: the nature and exercise of judicial power, the establishment and maintenance of judicial independence, the motivations and determinants of judicial decision making, and the various roles played by courts in both common law and civil law countries. Proposed in the conclusion are what may be an agenda for future research including the development of more general, universally applicable theories of judicial phenomena, more quantitative studies of judicial decision making, and more work on the influence of international, supranational, and transnational courts on national courts.

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