Research Handbook on Law and Courts
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Research Handbook on Law and Courts

Edited by Susan M. Sterett and Lee D. Walker

The Research Handbook on Law and Courts provides a systematic analysis of new work on courts as governing institutions. Authors consider how courts have taken on regulating fundamental categories of inclusion and exclusion, including citizenship rights. Courts’ centrality to governance is addressed in sections on judicial processes, sub-national courts, and political accountability, all analyzed in multiple legal/political systems. Other chapters turn to analyzing the worldwide push for diversity in staffing courts. Finally, the digitization of records changes both court processes and studying courts. Authors included in the Handbook discuss theoretical, empirical and methodological approaches to studying courts as governing institutions. They also identify promising areas of future research.
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Chapter 15: Judicial Service Commissions and the appointment of women to higher courts in Nigeria and Zambia

J. Jarpa Dawuni and Tabeth Masengu


Judicial appointing bodies and selection methods are critical determinants of judicial appointment outcomes. Across the continent of Africa, judicial appointments indicate a remarkable pattern of progress in the appointment of women to the higher courts. Yet, little remains known about the impact of selection bodies and gatekeeping strategies on gender diversity. This chapter contributes to existing scholarship by examining the role of JSCs in promoting gender parity on higher courts.  We focus on Nigeria and Zambia, two countries that use Judicial Service Commissions (JSCs) for the appointment of judges to the higher courts. In both countries, we find that judicial appointment bodies promote gender diversity by employing open and transparent appointment processes that assess women’s merit and qualifications. We find further evidence to suggest that adhering to established guidelines, positively evaluating stereotypical perceptions of women and the political willingness of the executive to nominate qualified women contribute to gender diversity outcomes. We conclude that JSCs can be important actors in promoting transparency, accountability and gender diversity in the judicial selection processes in African countries. Strict adherence to constitutional rules and appointment procedures could signal positive outcomes for the appointment of qualified women judges.

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