Inputs and Outputs on Appeal: An Empirical Study of Briefs, Big Law, and Case Complexity
39 Pages Posted: 17 Mar 2020 Last revised: 14 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 13, 2020
The relationship between judicial inputs and outputs remains opaque. Conventional wisdom is plentiful but useful evidence is not. This study examines civil appeals in three federal appellate courts, concentrating on the briefing, the attorneys, and the complexity of the case. We find no evidence that short briefs are more persuasive, while the evidence in favor of long briefs on the appellant’s side is provocative. We also find suggestive evidence that the experience of the lead lawyer on the appellee’s side matters. However, Big Law firms and large teams of lawyers do not seem to perform better on appeal, all else equal. Finally, different kinds of case complexity point in different directions. The presence of a cross-appeal is associated with judge votes to reverse—but not necessarily in favor of the cross-appellant. At the same time, complex trial-level proceedings may be associated with judge votes to affirm.
Keywords: courts, judges, empirical, appeals, litigation
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