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The Judicial Signaling Game: How Judges Shape Their Dockets

54 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2005  


Contrary to traditional wisdom, judges are not passive receivers of their agendas. Instead, many judges attempt to shape their dockets by encouraging potential litigants to bring particular cases. This encouragement takes the form of judges signaling their own positions on an issue as well as their colleagues' expected support. This process is modeled as a signaling game, with both separating and pooling equilibria resulting. The existence of pooling equilibria is of particular interest, as it indicates some judges misrepresent the chances of success of a case in order to induce desired legislation.

Keywords: Courts, information asymmetry, agenda setting, certiorari, litigation

JEL Classification: C72, D81, D82, K41

Suggested Citation

Jacobi, Tonja, The Judicial Signaling Game: How Judges Shape Their Dockets. Supreme Court Economic Review, 2006; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 05-09. Available at SSRN: or

Tonja Jacobi (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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