I am a software engineer trying to understand how judges make decisions in lawsuits. In computer and other sciences there is a concept of deterministic system:
In mathematics and physics, a deterministic system is a system in which no randomness is involved in the development of future states of the system. A deterministic model will thus always produce the same output from a given starting condition or initial state.
In lay terms this simply means that if the system is being fed the same input again and again it will generate exactly the same output each time.
If applied to legal system:
- Each judge would be a sub-system that builds the whole US legal system
- Evidence provided to the judge under lawsuit would be one kind of the input
- Ruling made by the judge would be the the output of the lawsuit
- Lawsuit would be a test to see how legal system reacts on particular input
Here are my questions (if you feel comfortable answering only some of these questions I would still appreciate it):
How deterministic is the US legal system? Can you provide examples of popular lawsuit instances that were almost the same but resulted in very different outcome?
If you are familiar with the steps that lawsuit has to go through in the US legal system, then what are these steps (e.g. assigning a random judge to a lawsuit; same judge unpredictably deciding what is and what isn't convincing evidence to him; same judge deciding how much of punishment to give for each violation under same circumstances ...). How much unpredictability does each step introduce and what is the typical source of that unpredictability?
What are efforts to make the legal system more deterministic (e.g., let computers to contribute to ruling, precedent-court ...)? Are persons involved in the judicial system concerned about this problem, and does it have a term in the legal world?
Also, I understand that this question is quite general and does not specify some of the variables that could affect answers (e.g. country or state, type of lawsuit). You can chose how to answer it.