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Appeal from Jury or Judge Trial: Defendants' Advantage

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law School

December 9, 1999

The prevailing "expert" opinion is that jury verdicts are largely immune to appellate revision. Using a database that includes all federal civil trials and appeals since 1988, we find that civil jury trials as a group are not so special on appeal. But the data do show that defendants succeed more than plaintiffs on appeal from civil trials, and especially from jury trials. Defendants appealing their losses after trial by jury obtain reversals at a 31% rate, while losing plaintiffs succeed in only 13% of their appeals from jury trials. Both descriptive analyses of the results and more formal regression models support an explanation based on appellate judges' attitudes toward trial-level adjudicators. The appellate court is more favorable to the defendant than is the trial judge and especially the jury. The large difference between appellate court and trial jury stems from the appellate judges' sizable misperceptions about the jury.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 28

JEL Classification: K41, K13, K10

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Date posted: February 9, 2000  

Suggested Citation

Eisenberg, Theodore and Clermont, Kevin M., Appeal from Jury or Judge Trial: Defendants' Advantage (December 9, 1999). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=202768 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.202768

Contact Information

Theodore Eisenberg (Contact Author)
Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )
Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Kevin M. Clermont
Cornell Law School ( email )
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-5189 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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