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Judicial Inaction in Action? Toward a Measure of Judicial Responsiveness

31 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2010  

Chad M. Oldfather

Marquette University - Law School

Joseph P. Bockhorst

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Brian P. Dimmer

Petit & Dommershausen

Date Written: July 15, 2010

Abstract

This article attempts to develop a measure of what we call “judicial responsiveness,” which, roughly stated, concerns the extent to which judicial opinions reflect the arguments made by the parties in their briefs. We applied two methods of automated content analysis to the briefs and opinion in each of a set of 30 cases decided by the First Circuit, measuring for similarity based on computations of word counts and citation percentages. We then compared the results of those methods to the results of manual coding of the same documents. The existence of statistically significant correlations among the measures supports the conclusion that our automated methodologies serve as a valid means of assessing responsiveness. We argue that these investigations can inform a range of scholarly debates, including efforts to assess judicial quality and the influence of ideology on judging, as well as debates over specific components of the judicial process, such as the use of unpublished opinions.

Keywords: judging, judicial responsiveness, content analysis, judicial quality, judicial activism, judicial inactivism, opinions

JEL Classification: K1, K4, K41

Suggested Citation

Oldfather, Chad M. and Bockhorst, Joseph P. and Dimmer, Brian P., Judicial Inaction in Action? Toward a Measure of Judicial Responsiveness (July 15, 2010). Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 10-32. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1640618 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1640618

Chad M. Oldfather (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Eckstein Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States
414.288.8031 (Phone)

Joseph P. Bockhorst

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee - Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science ( email )

EMS 1155
3200 North Cramer Street
Milwaukee, WI 53211
United States

Brian P. Dimmer

Petit & Dommershausen ( email )

United States

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