Plaintiphobia in the Appellate Courts: Civil Rights Really Do Differ from Negotiable Instruments?
Kevin M. Clermont
Cornell Law School
Cornell University, Law School (deceased)
University of Illinois Law Review, Vol. 2002, p. 947, 2002
Using a database that combines all federal civil trials and appeals decided since 1988, we find that defendants succeed more than plaintiffs on appeal from civil trials. Defendants appealing their losses after trial obtain reversals at a 33% rate, while losing plaintiffs succeed in only 12% of their appeals from trials. Both descriptive analyses of the results and more formal regression models dispel explanations based solely on selection of cases and instead support an explanation based on appellate judges' attitudes toward trial-level adjudicators. The large difference between appellate court and trial court probably stems from the appellate judges' misperceptions about the trial-level treatment of plaintiffs. The appellate court consequently is more favorably disposed to the defendant than are the trial judge and the jury.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
JEL Classification: J41, K41, K40, K13, K31
Date posted: March 6, 2002