Judicial Inaction in Action? Toward a Measure of Judicial Responsiveness
Chad M. Oldfather
Marquette University - Law School
Joseph P. Bockhorst
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Brian P. Dimmer
Petit & Dommershausen
July 15, 2010
Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 10-32
This article attempts to develop a measure of what we call “judicial responsiveness,” which, roughly stated, concerns the extent to which judicial opinions reflect the arguments made by the parties in their briefs. We applied two methods of automated content analysis to the briefs and opinion in each of a set of 30 cases decided by the First Circuit, measuring for similarity based on computations of word counts and citation percentages. We then compared the results of those methods to the results of manual coding of the same documents. The existence of statistically significant correlations among the measures supports the conclusion that our automated methodologies serve as a valid means of assessing responsiveness. We argue that these investigations can inform a range of scholarly debates, including efforts to assess judicial quality and the influence of ideology on judging, as well as debates over specific components of the judicial process, such as the use of unpublished opinions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: judging, judicial responsiveness, content analysis, judicial quality, judicial activism, judicial inactivism, opinions
JEL Classification: K1, K4, K41
Date posted: July 15, 2010
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