Preview Quiz 1

As a preview to what will be discussed in Part One, try to answer this question:

Two judges listening to the same courtroom evidence will sometimes reach different decisions. What does this tell you about judgment-making?

  1. One of the judges is probably wrong.
  2. Different judgments can be made based on the same facts.
  3. Not all judges are equally qualified to decide court room cases.

Begin reading Part One to discover the correct answer.

One of the tasks required of all readers is that of making judgments, and the ability to, make a sound judgment is an essential reading skill.

What is a judgment? A judgment is a reasonable and sound decision based on evidence. Notice that we said "a reasonable decision"; we did not say "the only decision". Different judgments can be made based on the same evidence. It is possible, for example, for two people to view the same cloudy sky on the same morning. One might judge that the day will be rainy and decide to bring his umbrella with him to work. The other might judge that the clouds will pass and that the day will be sunny. He might leave the house with neither raincoat nor umbrella. Only the future, the actual weather conditions of the day will reveal which decision was the best one. From the evidence viewed by both men in the morning, however, either judgment could be valid.

A courtroom trial offers another example. Before the trial begins, both lawyers prepare their cases thoroughly. During the trial both of them present their evidence carefully, each hoping to win over the members of the jury. After listening to the facts of the case as presented by the two lawyers, the twelve members of the jury must judge—they must come to a sound decision regarding the guilt or innocence of the person on trial. As is usually the situation, the jury members at first disagree; they have arrived at different decisions after listening to the same evidence. It frequently takes hours, and sometimes days, for all of the members of the jury to solve their differences and agree on a verdict. Occasionally, a trial results in a "hung" jury. The members cannot agree and a mistrial is declared, if the judge feels that they will never come to an agreement.

We use this example to show that there is an element of personal opinion involved in most judgments. Even so, the judgment must still be based on reason and evidence.

As a reader you are frequently called upon to make judgments. When this happens, you must be certain that the decision you reach is a reasonable one and one that is supported by the evidence.

To help you improve your ability to make valid judgments, this booklet is going to explore the steps involved. You will have an opportunity to examine and learn more about the steps and put this knowledge to use.

Before you can arrive at a judgment, you must proceed through these three steps: (1) you must first understand the facts or evidence; (2) you must next evaluate them; and (3) then you can make your decision.