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

Terry Dalton

University of California, Irvine

Jordan M. Singer

New England Law | Boston

Date Written: October 13, 2013

Abstract

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

Dalton, Terry and Singer, Jordan M., Bigger Isn't Always Better: An Analysis of Court Efficiency Using Hierarchical Linear Modeling (October 13, 2013). Pace Law Review, Vol. 34, 2014, Forthcoming; New England Law | Boston Research Paper No. 13-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1133242

Teresa Dalton (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Jordan M. Singer

New England Law | Boston ( email )

154 Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116
United States
(617) 368-1434 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.nesl.edu

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