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Emotion, Reason and the Progress of Law
The concept of the “sense of justice” provides a window into one of the central tensions underlying the legal system. Its icon is the blindfolded judge whose ability to weigh claims fairly comes from her lofty perch and her refusal to view particulars. Yet too lofty a perch, and too little attention to particulars, can also lead it injustice. Recent findings in cognitive psychology and neuroscience lend support to the ancient view that good decision making requires empathy and emotional engagement. These capacities help decision makers understand the intentions and goals of others and drive them to care about achieving just outcomes. But left unrestrained, these capacities can also lead decision makers badly astray. Centennial Distinguished Professor Susan A. Bandes considers what role empathy and emotional engagement ought to play for judges, juries and legislators, and how legal institutions might be reformed to facilitate that role.
Founding Dean, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Susan A. Bandes
Centennial Distinguished Professor of Law
DePaul University College of Law
Professor Susan Bandes is widely known as a scholar in the areas of federal jurisdiction, criminal procedure and civil rights, and more recently, as a pioneer in the emerging study of the role of emotion in law.
Her legal career began in 1976 at the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defender. In 1980, she became staff counsel for the Illinois ACLU, where she litigated a broad spectrum of civil rights cases, and helped draft and secure passage of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. She joined the DePaul law faculty in 1984, and was named Distinguished Research Professor in 2003. She has received numerous awards from both the law school and the university for her teaching, scholarship and service. In 2012, the law school’s centennial year, she was named the inaugural Centennial Distinguished Professor of Law.
Professor Bandes has written more than 60 articles, which appear in, among others, the Yale, Stanford, University of Chicago, Michigan and Southern California law reviews, as well as in peer-reviewed journals including Law and Social Inquiry, The Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Nomos, and the Law and Society Review. Her book on the role of emotion in law, THE PASSIONS OF LAW, was published by NYU Press in January 2000, and released in paperback in 2001. Professor Bandes presents her work frequently at academic symposia and workshops, as well as to nonacademic legal groups such as the American Constitution Society.
Her recent pro bono activities include acting as co-reporter for the Constitution Project’s bipartisan death penalty initiative, which produced the report “Mandatory Justice: Eighteen Reforms to the Death Penalty,” and serving on the advisory board to the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice’s study of the criminal justice system in Cook County, Illinois.