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Judges, Litigants and the Design of Courts

32 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2006 Last revised: 13 Nov 2009

Jeff Yates

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science

Paul Brace

Rice University - Department of Political Science

Brent D. Boyea

University of Texas at Arlingtion

Date Written: October 13, 2006

Abstract

Two important perspectives on courts highlight fundamentally different elements of the process of adjudication and yield distinct predictions about judicial outcomes. The Attitudinal Model of judicial voting (AM) posits judge ideology as a strong predictor of court outcomes. Alternatively, the Law and Economics perspective (LE) focuses on the settlement behavior of litigants and reasons that while judges may vote ideologically, litigants adapt to these ideological proclivities, nullifying the effect of judge ideology. This analysis focuses on reconciling expectations about the effects of judge ideology and litigant strategies by examining their contingent nature and the conditioning effects of institutional design. The analysis examines state supreme courts from 1995 through 1998 to identify strong empirical evidence supporting both perspectives. While some state supreme courts have discretionary dockets allowing judges to select cases they want to decide, others lack discretionary control, making outcomes largely litigant driven. The empirical support for each perspective largely hinges on this fundamental feature of institutional design.

Keywords: state supreme courts, law, economics, ideology, politics, political torts, tort, rational choice, selection society, empirical statistical regression

Suggested Citation

Yates, Jeff and Brace, Paul and Boyea, Brent D., Judges, Litigants and the Design of Courts (October 13, 2006). CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=937335 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.937335

Jeff L. Yates (Contact Author)

Binghamton University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Binghamton, NY 13902
United States

Paul Brace

Rice University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Brent D. Boyea

University of Texas at Arlingtion ( email )

Department of Political Science
601 S. Nedderman Drive, Box 19539
Arlington, TX 76019
United States
817-272-5449 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.uta.edu/faculty/bboyea/

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