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Judith Resnik and Dennis Curtis emphasize in Representing Justice that the traditional iconography of courthouses is incongruent with the current practices of the institutions that inhabit them. The key elements of traditional iconography – the blindfolded, scale-balancing Justitia and the courtroom configured for the trial – connote adjudication. Yet, the fraction of judicial work that involves deciding cases on the merits or conducting trials has decreased dramatically. Most judicial work today is basically managerial.

We could reduce this incongruity, on the one hand, by reviving the practical adjudicatory focus of the past or, on the other, by revising the iconography to take account of the new practices. Resnik and Curtis encourage both efforts, but they have more enthusiasm for the former. I want to suggest some ways in which imagery and design might be revised to express the importance and value of managerial judging. In particular, I suggest the relevance of what many will consider an unlikely source of inspiration for a new judicial iconography – modem manufacturing and factory design. The technological innovations associated with the Toyota Production System have produced an aesthetic that might contribute both functionally and expressively to the democratic accountability that Resnik and Curtis see as threatened by managerial judging.


Courts | Judges | Law