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One of the most important recent developments in the field of the law is the greater emphasis now being placed upon the effect of legal rules as instruments of social control of much wider import than merely as determinants of narrow disputes between individual litigants. The ultimate results upon the community of the adoption of certain legal principles rather than others has been but imperfectly understood. Definite data have been lacking as to what business and social habits, practices and customs were actually in vogue and as to their interrelation with current legal rules. In default of such definite information, the courts have at times taken the opinion of experts, have at other times used supposedly learned authorities under the application of the doctrine of judicial notice, but have perhaps more often made deductions based upon their own experiences and beliefs. Such deductions are at best of somewhat questionable value, since they are necessarily based upon knowledge of a limited kind. Often, however, they seem distinctly harmful, for they tend to assume as settled fact something which is either unproven, or at times even presumptively untrue. The protests aroused by some of the judicial opinions on the constitutionality of humanitarian legislation indicate a modern attitude in its refusal to accept as final the dictum of a court on disputed social questions. Judges themselves who have probed the manner and method of judicial decisions have expressed similar questionings. Some of the law schools are making definite overtures in the direction of the social scientist in the hope of help from that quarter. In fact, this need as felt in the law for more adequate social data as to the administration of justice is but part of a general movement in the social sciences to substitute for the vague generalizations of the older economists and philosophers concrete information based on adequate statistical information. To a certain extent it has its counterpart in modern business, which no longer expects to operate successfully without adequate information of its operations through modern cost accounting and statistical systems.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Fact Research in Law Administration, 1 Mississippi Law Journal 324 (1929)