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How do Judges Decide?
How do judges decide?

Seated at the center of the American criminal process is the trial judge. Robed on a raised bench, attentive but detached, severe but compassionate, involved but disinterested, the judge is the central figure of authority—and mystery—in the mysterious and authoritarian morality play we call criminal justice.

—Richard Uviller, Virtual Justice (1996:279)

William Spence1 pled guilty to two felonies in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri: assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. Spence, who had heard from a friend that Bill Smith had been harassing his girlfriend at the restaurant where she worked, shot Smith five times in the leg with a .38-caliber revolver. Smith was seriously injured. According to Missouri law, assault in the first degree ...

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