Tis a Gift to Be Simple: Aesthetics and Procedural Reform

This essay advances the hypothesis that aesthetic considerations play a role in the formulation of new legal procedures and the preference for one procedure over another. Of course, other considerations like the social impact of a particular procedure or procedural system, its economic consequences, and its role within existing legal institutions are important, often decisive, factors influencing procedural choice. My argument is simply that additional unarticulated and unrecognized aesthetic considerations also play a role in the procedural reform process. I refer to these elements as “aesthetic” because they focus on the formal qualities of a procedure (simplicity, elegance, coherence, and the like) rather than the results of applying that procedure.