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What Do Federal District Judges Want? An Analysis of Publications, Citations, and Reversals


Stephen J. Choi


New York University School of Law

G. Mitu Gulati


Duke University - School of Law

Eric A. Posner


University of Chicago - Law School

January 5, 2010

U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 508
NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 10-06

Abstract:     
We report evidence from a dataset of federal district judges from 2001 to 2002 that district judges adjust their opinion-writing practices to minimize their workload while maximizing their reputation and chance for elevation to a higher court. District judges in circuits with politically uniform circuit judges are better able to predict what opinions will get affirmed by the circuit court, leading to higher publication rates and a higher affirmance rate. In contrast, district judges in circuits with politically diverse circuit judges are less able to predict the preferences of the reviewing circuit court panel, leading district judges to publish fewer but higher quality opinions in an effort to maximize their affirmance rate.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

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Date posted: January 16, 2010 ; Last revised: January 29, 2010

Suggested Citation

Choi, Stephen J. and Gulati, G. Mitu and Posner, Eric A., What Do Federal District Judges Want? An Analysis of Publications, Citations, and Reversals (January 5, 2010). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 508; NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 10-06. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1536723 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1536723

Contact Information

Stephen J. Choi
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
Gaurang Mitu Gulati
Duke University - School of Law ( email )
Box 90360
Duke School of Law
Durham, NC 27708
United States
Eric A. Posner (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Law School ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/
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