Bryan Adamson


Rules of civil procedure have been examined extensively for their intended and unintended effects on case outcomes. Little attention, however, has been given to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a) (Rule 52(a))-its clear error standard of review-and how appellate courts apply or avoid it when examining substantive legal doctrine. Specifically, when confronted with cases involving actual malice and intentional race discrimination determinations, courts take markedly different approaches. While demanding a full reevaluation of facts in the actual malice context, appellate courts invariably apply the far more deferential clear error standard to a trial court's factual findings regarding intentional race discrimination. This inconsistent approach between intentional race discrimination and actual malice findings is neither doctrinally sound nor institutionally defensible.

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