Litigant Status and Trial Court Appeal Mobilization

30 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2015

See all articles by Christina L. Boyd

Christina L. Boyd

University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: October 2015


The advantages held by haves over have nots in litigation have long fascinated scholars, with a long line of research revealing that litigant status often affects litigant resources, experience, and chances of overall success from trial courts to appellate courts. What has received considerably less attention, however, is how this status affects the decision to appeal. Bringing a new perspective to this important area holding implications for the shape and content of the judicial hierarchy, this study analyzes the decision of the losing federal district court litigant to appeal to the US courts of appeals. Utilizing an original database containing a sample of federal district court civil cases decided between 2000 and 2004, the results indicate, as predicted, that litigant status differentials affect whether there will be an appeal. This influence is further magnified when conditioned upon the relative costs of the appeal. These findings provide one of the first detailed examinations of litigant status and appeals coming from US trial courts and, simultaneously, offer the first empirical evidence to date that business litigants, like previously known government parties, are advantaged over individuals when deciding whether to appeal.

Suggested Citation

Boyd, Christina L., Litigant Status and Trial Court Appeal Mobilization (October 2015). Law & Policy, Vol. 37, Issue 4, pp. 294-323, 2015. Available at SSRN: or

Christina L. Boyd (Contact Author)

University of Georgia - School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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