Left, Right, and Center: Strategic Information Acquisition and Diversity in Judicial Panels

44 Pages Posted: 9 May 2011 Last revised: 1 Jul 2011

Date Written: June 25, 2011


This paper develops and analyzes a hierarchical model of judicial review in multimember appellate courts. In our model, judicial panels acquire information endogenously, through the efforts of individual panelists, acting strategically. The resulting equilibria strongly resemble the empirical phenomena collectively known as "panel effects" -- and in particular the observed regularity with which ideological diversity on a panel predicts greater moderation in voting behavior (even after controlling for the median voter's preferences). In our model, non-pivotal panel members with ideologies far from the median have the greatest incentive to acquire additional policy-relevant information where no one on a unified panel would be willing to do so. The resulting information structure pushes deliberation and observed voting patterns towards apparent moderation. We illustrate the plausibility of our model by calibrating it to empirical data, and explore various normative implications of our theory.

Keywords: judicial behavior, panel effects

JEL Classification: K00, K23, K41

Suggested Citation

Spitzer, Matthew L. and Talley, Eric L., Left, Right, and Center: Strategic Information Acquisition and Diversity in Judicial Panels (June 25, 2011). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1832765. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1832765 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1832765

Matthew L. Spitzer

Northwestern University School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States
312-503-8434 (Phone)

Eric L. Talley (Contact Author)

Columbia University - School of Law ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.erictalley.com

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