20 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2008
Date Written: April, 12 2008
In this Article, I explore the degree to which federal circuit judges behave like "specialists" through opinion specialization. To assess each judge's degree of specialization, I develop a metric based on Kullback-Leibler distances, and then use simulation techniques to determine critical values for making inferences. I also construct various models to ascertain what biographic or demographic attributes correlate to specialist behavior. Having a former academic career and a long judicial tenure are significantly associated with higher degrees of specialization, while former prosecutorial experience and adjunct teaching experience have no effect. Senior status appears to be slightly negatively associated, even though senior judges have the ability to decline certain classes of cases.
Keywords: specialization, federal circuit judges, empirical, entropy
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