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Judicial DeliberationsA Comparative Analysis of Transparency and Legitimacy$
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Mitchel de S.-O.-l'E. Lasser

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199575169

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199575169.001.0001

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The French Bifurcation

The French Bifurcation

(p.27) 2 The French Bifurcation
Judicial Deliberations

Mitchel de S.-O.-l’E. Lasser

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Cour de cassation in France, which has generally been considered the archetype of civilian judicial theory and practice. Three major American comparative analyses — those produced by Roscoe Pound, John Dawson, and Duncan Kennedy — share a deeply pragmatic, realist (or proto-realist or post-realist, as the case may be) distrust of the syllogistic and apparently formalist style of the French civil judicial decision. All three analyses assume that something must be going on behind the facade of the French judicial decision, and that what is going on turns out to be judicial lawmaking. This chapter argues, however, that French judicial argument is bifurcated into two distinct spheres. In addition to the syllogistic argumentative sphere of the official French judicial decision, a vibrant — though well hidden — discursive sphere exists within the French civil judicial system. In this sheltered argumentative space, French magistrates argue not so much in terms of textual deduction, but rather in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of adopting one judicial interpretation over another.

Keywords:   Cour de cassation, France, civil judicial decision, judicial lawmaking, judicial argument, judicial system, magistrates, judicial interpretation

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