Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1126655
 
 

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The Effect of Trial-Judge Experience on Appellate Decisionmaking Behavior


Nick Linder


Duke University - School of Law

John Niles


Duke University - Graduate School; Duke University - School of Law

April 25, 2008


Abstract:     
Appellate judges do not join the bench with tabulae rasae. Their life experiences shape their behavior, but to what extent? This empirical study investigates whether the experience of serving as a trial judge affects federal intermediate appellate judges' likelihood of voting to affirm trial-court rulings. The study analyzes 3,222 appellate votes from criminal sentencing cases that came before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit between 2003 and 2007, and it controls for fifteen factors other than trial-judge experience that might influence appellate decisionmaking behavior. From these data, several conclusions emerge: Prior experience as a state trial judge causes an appellate judge to be more likely to vote to affirm. Prior experience as a federal trial judge, however, has no statistically significant effect. Prior experience from both state and federal trial benches also has no statistically significant effect. Finally, the effect of state trial-judge experience diminishes when lower courts have greater discretion.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

Keywords: judges, judicial decisionmaking, sentencing, sentences, appeals, appellate behavior, Booker

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Date posted: April 30, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Linder, Nick and Niles, John, The Effect of Trial-Judge Experience on Appellate Decisionmaking Behavior (April 25, 2008). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1126655 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1126655

Contact Information

Nick Linder
Duke University - School of Law ( email )
Box 90360
Duke School of Law
Durham, NC 27708
United States
John Niles (Contact Author)
Duke University - Graduate School ( email )
Durham, NC 27708-0097
United States
Duke University - School of Law ( email )
Box 90360
Duke School of Law
Durham, NC 27708
United States
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