An Empirical Analysis of Dissensus on the United States Courts of Appeals
20 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2006
Date Written: July 2006
Judges often emphasize that decision-making on the courts of appeals is a product of collegial deliberation among judges. Many factors may help promote judicial collegiality or create dissensus in the courts. We examine aggregate disagreement - or dissensus - on the United States Court of Appeals for the First, Seventh, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits and attempt to explain dissensus as a product of several variables: the ideological makeup of the court, the size of the court, the addition of new members to the court, the chief judge's years of experience, the number of judges with trial court experience, workload, and a measure of aggregate co-tenure, which is the average number of years of shared service on the court for each pair of judges on the court. Using both pooled and individual OLS estimates for the four circuits, we find only limited evidence that these variables contribute to the aggregate levels of disagreement on these courts.
Keywords: courts of appeals, dissents, dissensus
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