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Are Readable Judicial Opinions Cited More Often?

11 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2012 Last revised: 25 Oct 2012

Kevin Lee Brady

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: July 4, 2012

Abstract

Are judges, lawyers, and law professors more likely to cite readable judicial opinions? To answer this question, I created a dataset of nearly one hundred opinions and analyzed them based on their readability. It turns out readability doesn’t correlate with the number of citations. Instead, variables such as the number of words and the opinion’s subject matter correlate with citations.

To be sure, readability is subjective. But linguists have created objective measures of readability — such as the number of passive sentences in the opinion and the Flesch-Kincaid grade level. I use these measures throughout. Part I provides background information on readability. Part II summarizes the data, and Part III presents the results.

Keywords: readability, Flesch-Kincaid, judicial opinions, citations

Suggested Citation

Brady, Kevin Lee, Are Readable Judicial Opinions Cited More Often? (July 4, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2100618 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2100618

Kevin Lee Brady (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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