83 Tex L. Rev. 1399 (2004-2005)
Flouting the Law

handle is hein.journals/tlr83 and id is 1417 raw text is: Flouting the Law

Janice Nadler*
What happens when a person's commonsense view of justice diverges from the
sense ofjustice he or she sees enshrined in particular laws? Does the perception of one
particular law as unjust make an individual less likely to comply with unrelated laws?
This Article advances the Flouting Thesis-the idea that the perceived legitimacy of one
law or legal outcome can influence one s willingness to comply with unrelated laws-and
provides original experimental evidence to support this thesis. The results suggest that
willingness to disobey the law can extend far beyond the particular unjust law in
question, to willingness to flout unrelated laws commonly encountered in everyday life
(such as traffic violations, petty theft, and copyright restrictions), as well as willingness
of mock jurors to engage in juror nullification. Finally, this Article explores the relation-
ship between perceived injustice and flouting and offers several possible explanations,
including the role of law in American popular culture and the expressive function of the
law in producing compliance.
I.    Introduction  ................................................................................................................ 1400
1I.   Theories of Legal Compliance and Perceived Injustice ............................................. 1403
III.  Experimental Evidence for the Flouting  Thesis ......................................................... 1407
A.    Background: Related Theories and Evidence ................................................... 1407
B.    Experiment 1: Testing the Flouting Thesis via Intentions to Comply ............... 1410
C.    Experiment 2a: Testing the Flouting Thesis via Mock Juror Behavior
(Student  Sam ple)  .............................................................................................. 14 16
D.    Experiment 2b: Testing the Flouting Thesis via Mock Juror Behavior
(Com m unity  Sam ple)  ....................................................................................... 1423
IV.   Perceived Injustice in the Law and Its Consequences ................................................ 1426
A.    The Influence of Popular Culture on Attention to Perceived Legal Injustice ... 1427
B.    Expressive Law, Perceived Injustice, and Compliance .................................... 1429
V .   Im plications  and  Prescriptions ................................................................................... 1432
A .   Sources  of Perceived  Injustice .......................................................................... 1432
B.    Reducing the Gap Between Legal Rules and Commonsense Justice ................ 1434
C.    Caveats and  Unanswered  Questions ................................................................. 1438
V I.  C onclusion  ................................................................................................................. 1439
* Associate Professor, Northwestern University School of Law, jnadler@northwestem.edu;
Research Fellow, American Bar Foundation. I am grateful to Kenworthey Bilz, Rick Brooks, Dov
Cohen, Jim Davis, Shari Diamond, Richard Farr, Andrianna Kastanek, Russell Korobkin, Brook
Long, Richard McAdams, Tom Miles, Mary Rose, and Leigh Thompson for helpful comments.
Amanda Dykema-Engblade, Marcia Ireland, and Jennifer Mo provided excellent research
assistance. I thank workshop participants at the American Bar Foundation, Colorado, Cornell,
Illinois, Missouri, Northwestern, Northwestern Zodiac, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, and Wayne State
for helpful comments on an early draft. I thank the American Bar Foundation for its financial
support.

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