What Do Federal District Judges Want? An Analysis of Publications, Citations, and Reversals
38 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2010 Last revised: 25 Dec 2014
Date Written: January 5, 2010
We report evidence from a dataset of federal district judges from 2001 to 2002 that district judges adjust their opinion-writing practices to minimize their workload while maximizing their reputation and chance for elevation to a higher court. District judges in circuits with politically uniform circuit judges are better able to predict what opinions will get affirmed by the circuit court, leading to higher publication rates and a higher affirmance rate. In contrast, district judges in circuits with politically diverse circuit judges are less able to predict the preferences of the reviewing circuit court panel, leading district judges to publish fewer but higher quality opinions in an effort to maximize their affirmance rate.
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