Deferring, Deliberating, or Dodging Review? Examining the Mechanisms Behind Panel Effects
32 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2017
Date Written: June 27, 2017
While panel effects -- the notion that panel composition effects the votes cast by judges on the U.S. Courts of Appeals, have been widely documented -- scholars are unsure why these empirical regularities persist. In this paper, we outline three possible mechanisms, consensual, deliberative, and strategic, through which panel effects might occur, develop indicators for each mechanism, and test the three theories using a unique dataset of search and seizure cases. Our evidence, fitting the complicated nature of judicial choice, suggests that panel effects likely stem from a mixture of consensual, deliberative, and strategic reasons rather than a single explanation. The results have important implications for our understanding of judicial decisionmaking, the effects of proposed circuit splits, and the internal procedures used by judicial bodies.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation