Despite public controversy over the length of death penalty
appeals, little empirical work has been done on the time allocated to
the capital appeals process. The purpose of this study was to perform
a multistate empirical analysis of the time expended in direct appeals
of capital cases. The researchers included decisions from 14 states
that they believed to be representative of the 37 states that have
enforceable death penalty laws. For each of the 14 states included in
the study, the researchers examined every capital case decided on
direct appeal by the courts of last resort between the dates January
1, 1992, and December 31, 2002. The researchers developed a case
database by examining a variety of sources. For each of the 1,676
cases in the multistate database, the research team collected time
consumption data for each of the following five phases of the direct
appeal process: (1) the postsentence stage, (2) the preparation stage,
(3) the argument stage, (4) the decision stage, and (5) the supreme
court stage. Variables include state, case characteristics, court
opinion variables, dates, and time consumption variables.
The states are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
The new American Political Science Review recently arrived and I'd like to call the readership's attention to an article in it by James L. Gibson (Wash U), entitled "Challenges to the Impartiality of State Supreme Courts: Legitimacy Theory and "New Style" Judicial Campaigns." What a timely topic -- judicial campaigning -- as Wisconsin is currently enduring a battle of interest group commercials (complete with dead bodies in them!!) about the state supreme court incumbent and his challenger. (See FactCheck.org for coverage.) Does campaigning for judgeships affect the legitimacy of the courts?? See Gibson (he's got lots of other things going on this question as well) for a possible answer, and post here to discuss.
"The time series in question are monthly data from 1960-2004, for
over 17,000 police departments, for seven crime types (murder, rape,
robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft), as well
as their sum (the so-called Crime Index), and an additional 19
subcategories – e.g., robbery with a gun, knife, personal weapons
(hands, feet, etc.), or other; attempted rape; auto, truck or bus, or
other vehicle theft...The data consist of monthly counts of these crimes reported by
police departments throughout the country to the FBI as part of its
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program."
Organized in part by ELS Blog's very own Chris Zorn, the quantitative social science initiative (QuaSSI), a program in Penn State's political science department, is hosting a conference that should interest many on Sat., May 3, in State College, PA. Borrowing from the example of several other
disciplines, the small conference will showcase research from seven rising scholars of political methodology. Information for anyone interested is found here.
The applied statistics center at Columbia is sponsoring an inspired contest: 1st Annual Applied Statistics Center Art Contest. Implicitly (if not explicitly) advancing the Tufte legend, I think this is a wonderful idea and hope that legal empiricists will participate. For those interested the submissions deadline is 31 March 2008.
I have been on a blogging hiatus due to a series of projects that have demanded a lot of my time. This includes work on The Elastic Tournament, which is a paper co-authored with Marc Galanter (Wisconsin Law / LSE). We presented it last week at a terrific symposium hosted by Stanford Law Review, the Stanford Center on Ethics, and John & Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest Law.
The paper is largely an update of Marc's famous 1991 book (with Thomas Palay), The Tournament of Lawyer: The Transformation of the Big Law Firm. We hope it is the most descriptively accurate account of modern large law firm, which is, for a variety of reasons, a sector of practice that is of growing importance to law students and law schools. There is a lot of interested data compiled in this study, which I will be discussing over the next several weeks. In the meantime, here is the abstract of the article.
In 1991, Galanter and Palay published Tournament of
Lawyers: The Transformation of the Big Law Firm, which documented the
regular and relentless growth of large U.S. law firms. The book advanced
several structural and historical factors to explain these patterns, centering
on the adoption of the promotion-to-partnership tournament. Systemic changes in
the marketplace for corporate legal services in the intervening years suggest
the need for an updated account of the modern large law firm.
Using Tournament of
Lawyers as a starting point, we propose to fill this void in the
literature. Marching through a wide array of empirical evidence covering the
last twenty to thirty years, our findings corroborate some of the core
theoretical insights of Tournament of Lawyers. For example, the
continuous upward growth of the partnership based on the tournament is clearly
evidenced by a “smooth” upward trajectory in the partnership ranks while
associate hiring hews more closely to the underlying business cycle. On the
other hand, the widening ranks of permanent “off track” attorneys and
non-equity partners, including the prevalence of de-equitizations, suggest the
emergence of a more complex and elongated tournament structure that applies to
both partners and associates.
Under a new model, which we
dub the “elastic tournament,” the equity core is primarily reserved for
partners who control access to key clients. This structure reduces cross-subsidies between lawyers with differential
value to the firm, thus reducing the potential for large-scale lateral
defections. Yet, this reduced sharing of
risks and benefits simultaneously creates an environment in which it becomes
more costly—at the individual lawyer level—to faithfully adhere to professional
and ethics principles that are in tension with client objectives. The diminution in sharing also reduces the time horizons of individual
lawyers and decreases their willingness to invest in firmwide initiatives that
do not simultaneously optimize their own practice. Amidst this widening collective action
problem, the “firm” itself has remarkably little autonomy to pursue
non-economic objectives, such as racial and gender diversity or the training
and mentoring of the next generation of lawyers. Further, except in some exceptional cases,
the influence of firm culture, which may have moderated lawyer self-interest in
an earlier era, is weakened by the sheer size and geographic dispersion of the modern
big law firm.
Although this model is
fundamentally “stable” in the economic sense, it raises several philosophical
and practical issues regarding lawyer independence and the long-term viability
of professional self-regulation.
We enter the debate over the role of sex in judging by
addressing the two predominant empirical questions it raises: whether male and
female judges decide cases distinctly (individual effects) and whether the
presence of a female judge on a panel causes her male colleagues to behave
differently (panel effects). We do not, however, rely exclusively on the
predominant statistical models - variants of standard regression analysis - to
address them. Because these tools alone are ill-suited to the task at hand, we
deploy a more appropriate methodology - non-parametric matching - which follows
from a formal framework for causal inference.
Applying matching methods to sex discrimination suits
resolved in the federal circuits between 1995 and 2002 yields two clear
results. First, we observe substantial individual effects: The likelihood of a
judge deciding in favor of the party alleging discrimination decreases by about
10 percentage points when the judge is a male. Likewise, we find that men are
significantly more likely to rule in favor of the rights litigant when a woman
serves on the panel. Both effects are so persistent and consistent that they
may come as a surprise even to those scholars who have long posited the
existence of gendered judging.
Although much of the attention--historic and current--to school desegregation dwells on students, in a recent interesting paper, Desegregating Teachers, Wendy Parker (Wake Forest) widens the traditional lens by assessing K-12 classroom teacher demographics. The abstract follows.
"Our public schools are more segregated than is
commonly recognized. Through an original empirical study of 157 school
districts, this Article uncovers that teachers are re-segregating, just as
students are. Many educators, policy makers, and legal scholars would find no
fault with this resegregation because they disconnect integration from quality
of education. The consequences of teacher segregation, however, remain uncharted
territory in this debate over the value of integration. The resegregation of
teachers exposes the truth of segregation - it continues to impede structural
equality and helps to perpetuate white supremacy. Segregated teaching staffs,
which put inexperienced white teachers in minority schools, are but one aspect
of the inequality of segregation. Yet, this past term the Supreme Court
legitimated the current segregation in our public schools in its landmark
opinion, Parents Involved. Our society's refusal to recognize the transformative
potential of integration is, however, more of an obstacle to equality than the
Supreme Court. That is, until we identify integration with quality of education,
the Supreme Court's refusal to do so is unimportant."
Caps on non-economic damages persist as a popular tort reform component. What such caps achieve, however, remains understudied. A paper by Hyman (Illinois), Black (Texas), Silver (Texas), and Sage (Texas), Estimating the Effect of Damage Caps in Medical Malpractice Cases: Evidence from Texas, reports results from their study of Texas's 2003 cap on non-economic damages on jury verdicts, post-verdict payouts,
and settlements in medical malpractice cases closed during 1988-2004. Critical to this study are the claim-level data that include information on settlements. An excerpt from the abstract, below, summarizes key findings.
"For pro-plaintiff jury verdicts, the cap affects 47% of verdicts, and reduces
mean allowed non-economic damages, mean allowed verdict, and mean payout by 73%,
37%, and 26%, respectively. In total, the non-econ cap reduces adjusted verdicts
by $156M, but predicted payouts by only $60M. The impact on payouts is smaller
because a substantial portion of the above-cap damage awards were not being paid
to begin with. In cases settled without trial, the non-econ cap affects 18% of
cases; and reduces predicted mean payout for non-economic damages (predicted
mean total payout) by 38% (18%). The non-econ cap has a smaller impact on
settled cases than tried cases because settled cases tend to involve smaller