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22 March 2006


frank cross

I'm talking about the LaPorta studies, and others, mostly by folks at the World Bank. They use not only common law but also measures of judicial efficiency, judicial independence, etc. They do not track closely to traditional judicial ideological decisionmaking research, but there are some interesting insights that are relevant.

For example, one of the theories of common law superiority is that it employs a case-by-case accretion of law produced by the judiciary that adapts to facts, rather than a top down rule oriented structure of civil law.

Erik Voeten

I have been pondering the same question. There is actually a very good qualitative literature on comparative and transnational courts, but very little quantitative work analyzing behavior. In case, you're interested I have a paper on SSRN that looks at dissents in the ECHR:

Geoff McGovern

Frank, would you be willing to share sources regarding the economic research? I wonder whether the resources you're referencing delve into questions of judicial behavior or whether, like La Porta, et al., the focus is on using legal origin as proxy for a bundle of institutions that relate more to property rights and pro-business protections than judicial decision-making.

Chris W. Bonneau

I teach two weeks of comparative courts in my graduate seminar. Currently, I am using Helmke's "Courts Under Constraints" as well as a series of articles. If you are interested, you can access my full syllabus by following the "Courses" link at my website: www.pitt.edu/~cwb7

Artemus Ward

Wendy, would you consider posting your current syllabus? I am in the process of composing a new syllabus for my fall '06 judicial politics grad seminar (the old one from two years ago can be accessed from my homepage, linked below). I agree that we need to do more to move beyond the U.S. context. Of course many of us have been using Charles Epp's excellent The Rights Revolution: Lawyers, Activists, and Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspective (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998). I am adding Ran Hirschl's Towards Juristocracy: The Origins and Consequences of the New Constitutionalism (Harvard University Press, 2004) and Peter Russell's Recognizing Aboriginal Title: The Mabo Case and Indigenous Resistance to English-Settler Colonialism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005), which recently won the 2006 C. Herman Pritchett Award for “the best book on law and courts written by a political scientist and published the previous year”. I wonder if others would consider making suggestions and/or posting links to their syllabi. Of Course the Law & Courts section of the American Political Science Association maintains a Syllabi Archive, which is a wonderful resource:

frank cross

There's a lot of economic research and data here. Most of it comparing court systems on measures such as "rule of law" or "common law" systems. I'm kind of surprised about the lack of connection between the economic and political science research.

Jason Czarnezki

An obvious answer to your first question is that we must look at state courts when studying judicial selection in order to assess the various alternatives (e.g., election v. appointment).

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