Today, law clerks and judicial assistants have an important position in the judicial decision making process. Yet, the legitimacy of their role is regularly questioned. In the discussion on the legitimacy, it is widely assumed that judicial assistants are actively involved in adjudication and influence the outcome of judicial decisions. However, there is still little empirical evidence to substantiate these assumptions. This article contributes to the knowledge regarding the role of judicial assistants in adjudication. It does so by means of conducting an experimental survey among Dutch administrative law district court judges (N = 80). In this survey, we measure the role and influence of judicial assistants in adjudication in three different steps. We demonstrate that judicial assistants are actively involved in adjudication via sound-boarding, preparing bench memos and drafting judgments and have a self-reported and experimentally established influence on the outcome of court cases.

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Keywords Judicial decision making, judicial assistants, law clerks, influence, empirical research
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Journal International Journal for Court Administration
Organisation Erasmus School of Law
Holvast, N.L, & Mascini, P. (2020). Is the Judge or the Clerk Making the Decision?. International Journal for Court Administration, 11(2), 1–19. doi:10.36745/ijca.358