Bigger Isn't Always Better: An Analysis of Court Efficiency Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling
18 Pages Posted: 16 May 2011 Last revised: 27 Oct 2013
Date Written: October 13, 2013
One important measure of trial court efficiency is overall case length — that is, the elapsed time from a case’s initial filing to its final disposition. Using a large, recent dataset from nearly 7000 federal civil cases, we find that two variables are particularly useful in predicting overall case length: the total number of attorneys filing an appearance in the case, and the number of authorized judgeships for a given district court. Further, we find a significant and surprising interaction between these two variables, indicating that smaller courts are more efficient than larger courts at processing civil cases when more than three attorneys appear in a case, but that the opposite holds true when three attorneys or fewer appear in a case.
Keywords: Case Length, Civil Case Processing, Civil Litigation, Court Resources, Court Size, Federal Courts, Empirical Studies, HLM, Hierarchical Linear Modeling, Legal Culture
JEL Classification: K41, C00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation