Brian Fitzpatrick, ‘Many Minds, Many MDL Judges’

The federal MDL statute may concentrate more power in the hands of a single person than any other part of our judicial system. A single judge can end up resolving hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of individually viable cases. This has benefits – most notably efficient case processing, uniformity of results, and the facilitation of global peace – but it also has costs. In this essay, I argue that one of these costs could be the accurate adjudication of legal claims and defenses. Drawing on the ‘many-minds’ literature that proceeds from the Condorcet Jury Theorem, I argue that the legal decisionmaking in MDLs could be improved if the cases were transferred to a panel of judges instead of just one judge. In large MDLs, the cost of increased judicial time should be easily outweighed by the benefit of increased accuracy. No law reform is needed to implement panels: it is already authorized by the current statute.

Fitzpatrick, Brian T, Many Minds, Many MDL Judges (June 25, 2021). 84 Law and Contemporary Problems (2021, forthcoming), Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No 21-27.

First posted 2021-06-30 11:00:42

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