Doris Marie Provine's Judging Credentials is a provocative work that draws on and furthers the critical approach to the study of professions. The book is a study of judges in lower courts of limited jurisdiction who are not lawyers, a group of considerable size. There are over 13,000 of them in the United States. In this work Provine examines the legal profession's assertion that these judges are inferior to judges who are lawyers. Contrary to both professional claims and popular belief, Provine argues that lay judges in America's lower courts perform as well as their lawyer counterparts. Her conclusions derive from extensive original survey data as well as from a thorough analysis of the pertinent literature on lay judges. Provine argues that although characterizations of lay judges' incompetence are empirically unsubstantiated, they nevertheless reveal much about the political and cultural control exerted by professions. Provine's work demystifies lawyers' mandate for monopoly control over judgeships, and it challenges professional ideology while simultaneously exposing its considerable force in contemporary society.
12 Legal Studies Forum 251 (1988)