"How to inform the judicial mind," Justice Frankfurter remarked during the school desegregation cases, "is one of the most complicated problems." Social research is a potential source of such information. Indeed, in the 1960s and 1970s, with activist courts at the forefront of social reform, the field of law and social science came of age. But for all the recent activity and scholarship in this area, few books have attempted to create an intellectual framework, a systematic introduction to applied social-legal research.
Social Research in the Judicial Process addresses this need for a broader picture. Designed for use by both law students and social science students, it constructs a conceptual bridge between social research (the realm of social facts) and judicial decision making (the realm of social values). Its unique casebook format weaves together judicial opinions, empirical studies, and original text. It is a process-oriented book that teaches skills and perspectives, cultivating an informed sensitivity to the use and misuse of psychology, social psychology, and sociology in apellate and trial adjudication. Among the social-legal topics explored are school desegregation, capital punishment, jury impartiality, and eyewitness identification.
This casebook is remarkable for its scope, its accessibility, and the intelligence of its conceptual integration. It provides the kind of interdisciplinary teaching framework that should eventually help lawyers to make knowledgeable use of social research, and social scientists to conduct useful research within a legally sophisticated context.