Morgan L. W. Hazelton, Rachael K. Hinkle, and Michael J. Nelson

Aug 21, 2023

The Elevator Effect

Contact and Collegiality in the American Judiciary

Oxford University Press 2023

Does it matter if judges are nice to each other? The Elevator Effect: Contact and Collegiality in the American Judiciary (Oxford UP, 2023) argues that how judges interact with each other has an important effect at every stage of their judicial process. Previously, scholars have explained judicial behavior in terms of the law, the ideological attitudes of the judges, external and internal constraints, and the background characteristics of the judges, such as gender, race, or prior professional experiences. The Elevator Effect builds on previous research in political science, political psychology, and linguistics to present the first comprehensive examination of the importance of interpersonal relationships among the judges for judicial decision-making and legal development. Hazelton, Hinkle, and Nelson argue that collegiality affects nearly every aspect of judicial behavior. More frequent interpersonal contact among judges diminishes the role of ideology to the point where it is both “substantively and statistically imperceptible.” The book also shows that collegiality affects both the language judges use when they disagree with each other and the precedents that they choose to support their arguments. The podcast covers the rich findings of the book – and also provides some interesting insights for graduate students who are thinking about collaborative research

  • Dr. Morgan L.W. Hazelton, J.D. and Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Law (by courtesy) at Saint Louis University. She studies how features of court systems influence the decisions that both litigants and judges make.
  • Dr. Rachael K. Hinkle, J.D. and Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at the University at Buffalo. Her research agenda focuses on judicial politics with particular attention to gleaning insights into legal development from the content of judicial opinions through the use of computational text analytic techniques.
  • Dr. Michael J. Nelson, PhD, is a professor of Political Science at Penn State University. Michael Nelson is Professor of Political Science at Penn State University. He studies judicial politics, especially public attitudes toward law and courts, judicial behavior, and the politics of court reform.

Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Listen to more episodes on:

Your Host

Susan Liebell

Susan Liebell is a Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

Learn More

Also Hosted By Susan Liebell