Thursday, September 10, 2009

Using Empirical Methods in Procedure Scholarship

Two new articles posted to SSRN employ quantitative empirical methods in researching issues involving the federal courts: 

Between Cases and Classes: The Decision to Consolidate Multidistrict Litigation
Margaret S. Williams (Federal Judicial Center)
Tracey E. George (Vanderbilt University -- School of Law) 

This paper provides the preliminary results of a convenience sample of ninety MDL orders from 2003 to 2009. The study investigates the rationale for transfer of federal civil litigation by the Panel, where cases are assigned, and to whom. The purpose of the analysis is to identify factors that explain past transfers by the Panel, both to particular districts and judgesThe results provided here represent a draft paper submitted to the Conference on Empirical Legal Studies for possible presentation at its annual meeting in November 2009.

Public Perceptions of the Lower Federal Courts
Sara C. Benesh (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee)
Amy Steigerwalt (Georgia State University)
Nancy Scherer (Wellesley College)

The lower federal courts decide cases every day that are essential to a democracy and yet, lower federal court judges are not accountable to the people nor are their decisions often reversed (or even reviewed) by the U.S. Supreme Court. Their decisions are not self-implementing. Hence, our confidence in these local federal courts -- to make the right decisions and to decide cases fairly -- is essential to upholding the rule of law. But, we know little about levels of confidence in these courts or knowledge about these courts. This article seeks to inform on both of those points via use of a national randomly generated survey.


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