Bias in Judicial Citations: A New Window into the Behavior of Judges?

67 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2006  

Stephen J. Choi

New York University School of Law

G. Mitu Gulati

Duke University School of Law

Date Written: July 2, 2006

Abstract

This Article tests for the presence of bias in judicial citations within federal circuit court opinions. Our findings suggest bias along three dimensions. First, judges base outside circuit citation decisions in part on the political party of the cited judge. Judges tend to cite judges of the opposite political party less compared with the fraction of the total pool of opinions attributable to the opposite political party judges. Second, judges are more likely to engage in biased citation practices in certain high stakes situations. These high stakes situations include opinions dealing with certain subject matters (such as individual rights and campaign finance) as well as opinions in which another judge is in active opposition. Third, judges cite more to those judges that cite back to them frequently, suggesting the presence of "mutual" citation clubs.

Keywords: Judges, judicial administration, judicial bias, empirical study of courts

JEL Classification: K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Choi, Stephen J. and Gulati, G. Mitu, Bias in Judicial Citations: A New Window into the Behavior of Judges? (July 2, 2006). NYU, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 06-29; Georgetown Law and Economics Research Paper No. 913663; Georgetown Public Law Research Paper No. 913663; NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 06-21; 1st Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=913663 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.913663

Stephen J. Choi (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

Gaurang Mitu Gulati

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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