Federal District Judge Gender and Reversals
Royce de Rohan Barondes
University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law
July 15, 2010
5th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
Choi, Gulati, Holman and Posner ask, "Do women make better judges?" Their results, as they summarize them, are not informative. They merely cannot reject the possibility of an absence of a relationship between gender and the particular measures they examine.
This paper, focusing on reversals of federal district court judges, provides information more directly relevant to answering the question they posed, albeit not as to women as a whole but rather as among the limited set of men and women who are confirmed as judges. There is a consistent pattern of lower likelihood of reversal in summary statistics, overall and within each subsample of judges appointed by the three represented Presidents. The same pattern is found in the estimations, including a hierarchical linear model with random effects, which show women with statistically significant lower odds of reversal of between 6.6% to 8.9%.
The only exception is the subset of opinions not having been assigned a primary case type by Westlaw. These include appellate dispositions presenting procedural matters, as well as perfunctory dispositions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 20
Keywords: judges, reversal rates, gender
JEL Classification: K40
Date posted: July 17, 2010 ; Last revised: December 15, 2010