Book cover for 'A Penchant for Prejudice'
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A Penchant for Prejudice

Unraveling Bias in Judicial Decision-Making
Linda G. Mills
Challenges the meaning of impartiality in the judicial system


A Penchant for Prejudice combines a detailed empirical study of the decision-making practices of judges with a sophisticated theoretical argument which exposes contemporary myths about judging and suggests methods of incorporating the inevitable bias that is detected in this and other studies. Based on a unique study of the decisions of Social Security judges, the book challenges the meaning of judicial impartiality. Linda G. Mills finds that, in practice, bias is a consistent dimension of what is considered "impartial" decision-making. The results reveal that impartiality as the legal system now defines it, is itself a form of bias, and that a historically and contextually sensitive definition of bias, one which takes account of the communities and cultures that come to be judged in the legal system, must overcome the modern dualistic notion of imparitality as the exclusion of bias in order to respond to needs of the diversity of applicants and the judges who adjudicate their claims. According to Mills, the judicial bias she found reflected in her study seems not only to essentialize and stereotype applicants but also prevents judges from engaging vulnerable claimants in a way that the legal process positively demands.

A Penchant for Prejudice will be of interest to students and scholars of law, judicial decisionmaking, and discrimination.

Linda G. Mills is Assistant Professor of Social Welfare and Law, University of California, Los Angeles.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a passionate, engaging account detailing bias in the decision making of Social Security administrative law judges (ALJs)."
    —Robert M. Howard, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Justice System Journal, Volume 21, No.3 (2000)

News, Reviews, Interviews

Review Law and Politics Book Review | 2/1/2000

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 216pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 1999
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-10950-0

Add to Cart
  • $84.95 U.S.