'Followed Rates' and Leading State Cases, 1940-2005
35 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2007 Last revised: 22 Apr 2008
Citation analysis has long been employed to study interactions between courts and to assess the influence of individual courts in relation to one another. That methodology, however, has been subject to criticism because the number of times a decision has been cited is an overinclusive indicator of influence. This paper reports the preliminary results of a project that updates three-decades-old data concerning comparative influence of state high courts while seeking to avoid some of the problems inherent in simple citation analysis studies. Instead of relying on the rate of citation, we utilize data showing cases that have been followed, as that term has been used by Shepard's Citations Service. Our results reveal, consistent with the prior literature, that the California Supreme Court has long been, and continues to be, the most followed state supreme court. Our results also show that in recent decades some of the previously highest-ranked state high courts have been eclipsed by other courts such as the Supreme Court of Washington. We explore reasons why decisions of some state high courts are followed more frequently than others, and propose further analysis of our data and discussion of our methods.
Keywords: citation analysis, Shepard's, comparative influence, appellate courts, California Supreme Court
JEL Classification: K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation