September 3, 2020

Oseid on Judge John T. Noonan Jr. and Writing With Empathy to Prove That the Human Person Is Central to the Law

Julie A. Oseid, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota), is publishing I See You: Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. Writing with Empathy to Prove that the Human Person is Central to the Law in the University of St. Thomas Law Journal (2021). Here is the abstract.
Long before he became a judge, Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. recognized and highlighted “the central place of the human person in any account of the law.” One of his intellectual legacies as a federal circuit court judge was recognizing the persons, not masks, who appeared before him. How did he do it? Empathy. Judge Noonan’s capacity for empathy as a judge extended beyond his ability to step into the shoes of someone whose life was very different from his own—he was able to write about that person’s encounter with the law in a way that makes you, the reader, also relate to the person with empathy. This article focuses on Judge Noonan’s opinions in three areas of law spanning three decades: civil rights, employment, and criminal law. Judge Noonan believed that you cannot love someone you cannot see. I will focus on how the details of his judicial writing—word choice, concision, and narrative techniques—furthered his philosophy of respecting the dignity of every human. He saw them. We do, too.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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