While most legal scholars confine their research to published opinions of court cases, legal archaeologists examine the historical and social context in which a court case was decided. These facts may show what social and cultural forces were at work in a particular case. Professors can use legal archaeology to "sensitize students as to how inequality, specifically with regard to race, gender and class affects what occurs throughout the cases they study." A legal archaeologist might also research biographical material on the judges, attorneys, and parties to a court case. Such information might show whether a judge held particular biases in a case, or if one party had superior legal representation that caused the party to prevail in a case.
Notable Practitioners of Legal Archaeology
- Richard Danzig
- Judith Maute
- Debora Threedy
- Joan Vogel
Notes and references
- Charles L. Knapp, Nathan M. Crystal, and Harry G. Prince, Problems in Contract Law: Cases and Materials: Fifth Edition, pp. 749-50, Aspen Publishers, 2005
- Joan Vogel, Cases in Context: Lake Champlain Wars, Gentrification, and Ploof v. Putnam, 45 St. Louis U. L. J. 791, 792.
- Judith Maute, Response: The Values of Legal Archaeology, 2000 Utah L. Rev. 223.