Appeal from Jury or Judge Trial: Defendants' Advantage
Cornell University, Law School (deceased)
Kevin M. Clermont
Cornell Law School
December 9, 1999
The prevailing "expert" opinion is that jury verdicts are largely immune to appellate revision. Using a database that includes all federal civil trials and appeals since 1988, we find that civil jury trials as a group are not so special on appeal. But the data do show that defendants succeed more than plaintiffs on appeal from civil trials, and especially from jury trials. Defendants appealing their losses after trial by jury obtain reversals at a 31% rate, while losing plaintiffs succeed in only 13% of their appeals from jury trials. Both descriptive analyses of the results and more formal regression models support an explanation based on appellate judges' attitudes toward trial-level adjudicators. The appellate court is more favorable to the defendant than is the trial judge and especially the jury. The large difference between appellate court and trial jury stems from the appellate judges' sizable misperceptions about the jury.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
JEL Classification: K41, K13, K10
Date posted: February 9, 2000
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