Professor Jonas Anderson Recognized at Annual Faculty Awards

February 7, 2020

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Prof. Jonas Anderson

On Wednesday, January 29, 2020, four professors at American University, Washington College of Law were honored as winners of the annual Faculty Scholarship Awards. Professor  and Associate Dean of Scholarship Jonas Anderson received the Edwin A. Mooers Scholars Award, which was established in 1985 in honor of former Professor Mooers for support to an AUWCL faculty member in any area of law.

In Anderson’s article, “Court Capture,” Boston College Law Review (2018), he examines whether capture, a phenomenon about which administrative law has long been focused, is something that could also infect the federal courts.

Capture is the phenomenon in which administrative agencies come to serve the industry that they are meant to regulate. In Anderson's article, he examines the federal courts as the "agency" being captured. 

The article uses the example of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which Anderson claims exhibits some of the hallmarks of capture: it has a revolving door between judges and patent law firms, it gets benefits from having lots of patent cases yet the only way it attracts patent cases is by offering more favorable rulings than other courts, and it has an overly cozy relationship with the lawyers who argue before the court. He concludes that some—but not all—of the things that worry us about agency capture could—and have—occur with courts.

“Focusing mostly on patent law (but drawing from bankruptcy and antitrust law among others) this broader project has exposed the negative side of what most observers previously viewed as an unalloyed good; specialization. Among the downsides I have exposed are the tendency of specialized courts to favor plaintiffs, the blurring of the lines of separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branch, undermining judicial impartiality, and questioning the legitimacy of judicial review,” Anderson explained. “All this work (after one last article that is in process) will result in a book, tentatively titled When Courts Go Shopping for Plaintiffs: Court Competition among the Federal Courts.”