Ahmed Taha (Wake Forest) circulated an interesting paper, Judges' Political Orientations and the Selection of Disputes for Litigation," focusing on the influence of judges' ideology on settlement behavior. Taha's paper explores various case types and assesses whether (perceptions of) judge ideology influences which cases settle and which go forward. The study finds that:
"... at least for some types of cases, judges' political orientations have significant effects on the number of cases filed. Thus, the political orientations of even trial court judges have important effects on the outcomes of the federal justice system: fewer potential plaintiffs seek relief in federal courts if they believe the judges are less likely to be sympathetic to their cases. This finding also helps explain the surprising findings of other researchers that a federal district judge's political orientation generally does not affect the probability that a case ends in a judgment for the plaintiff or a settlement. This paper's findings suggest that those results are based on a selection bias: because parties believe that judges' political orientations matter, they are likely settling cases on more favorable terms for the plaintiffs if the cases are assigned to Democratic judges rather than to Republican judges."