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Judicial Socialization - The Philadelphia Experience (From Courts and Judges, P 149-172, 1981, James A Cramer, ed. - See NCJ-87695)

NCJ Number
P B Wice
Date Published
This study found that most judges sitting on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas have the self-confidence and prior experience to obviate reliance upon socializing agents or training programs, a finding contrary to the theory of judicial socialization.
It has been assumed that a person enters the judiciary with no prior training, necessitating a severe socialization process in which views of proper role conduct are significantly shaped. Since there are so few formal socializing processes (educative orientation programs), a variety of socializing agents, notably colleagues on the bench, provide an informal but effective socialization process. Additionally, professional organizations have recently responded to the absence of formalized educative structures by developing a wide range of orientation and continuing education programs. Because these new programs and recent research projects have been based on the premise that all new judges know almost nothing about their jobs, this study investigated judges in Philadelphia's Court of Common Pleas to learn if their early years on the bench do fit the premises of judicial socialization theory and activities. A total of 75 court judges were interviewed and observed in the performance of their functions. The judges were found to have sufficient self-confidence and prior experience to make reliance upon socializing agents and training programs unnecessary. The findings suggest that researchers focusing on judicial socialization should consider two variables which influence the process: the type and level of the court (previous studies have focused almost exclusively on Federal or State appellate courts) and the degree and type of politicization surrounding the local court system. This can exert significant influence upon the operation of the court system from its selection and recruitment process through critical sentencing decisions. Twenty references are listed.