My colleague Jeff Rachlinski joined co-authors Chris Guthrie (the new Dean at Vanderbilt) and Andrew Wistrich (a magistrate judge) on an interesting paper that examines administrative law judges from an empirical perspective. The abstract for The Hidden 'Judiciary': An Empirical Examination of Executive Branch Justice follows.
"Administrative law judges attract little scholarly attention, yet they decide a large fraction of all civil disputes. In this Article, we demonstrate that these executive branch judges, like their counterparts in the judicial branch, tend to make predominantly intuitive rather than predominantly deliberative decisions. This finding sheds new light on executive branch justice by suggesting that judicial intuition, not judicial independence, is the most significant challenge facing these important judicial officers."