Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Two articles published in the latest issue of the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies:
Michael Heise & Martin T. Wells, Revisiting Eisenberg and Plaintiff Success: State Court Civil Trial and Appellate Outcomes
Despite what Priest-Klein theory predicts, in earlier research on federal civil cases, Eisenberg found an association between plaintiff success in pretrial motions and at trial. Our extension of Eisenberg's analysis 20 years later into the state court context, however, does not uncover any statistically significant association between a plaintiff's success at trial and preserving that trial victory on appeal. Our results imply that a plaintiff's decision to pursue litigation to a trial court conclusion is analytically distinct from the plaintiff's decision to defend an appeal of its trial court win brought by a disgruntled defendant. We consider various factors that likely account for the observed differences that distinguish our results from Eisenberg's. First, legal cases that persist to an appellate outcome are a filtered subset of underlying trials and legal disputes and various selection effects inform much of this case filtering. Second, where Eisenberg analyzed the relation between pretrial motions and trial outcomes in federal courts, we assess possible relations between trial and appellate court outcomes in state courts. The pretrial and trial context and the trial and appeals context likely differ in ways that disturb plaintiff success. Third, while Eisenberg studied federal cases between 1978–1985 we study state cases between 2001–2009. In addition to differences between federal and state civil cases, the composition of cases that selected into formal litigation may have evolved over time.
Talia Fisher, Tamar Kritcheli-Katz, Issi Rosen-Zvi, & Theodore Eisenberg, He Paid, She Paid: Exploiting Israeli Courts' Rulings on Litigation Costs to Explore Gender Biases
This study documents gender disparities in litigation-cost rulings in Israel. It expands on the existing literature on judicial bias in at least two important ways: by controlling for the merits of the cases and by focusing on civil litigation. The first improvement is methodological. The unique Israeli regime of litigation costs allows us to control for the merit of the cases, as well as for other typically unobservable variables, and thus to isolate and observe judicial bias. The second improvement on the existing literature on judicial bias involves focusing on outcome disparities in the civil (rather than criminal) justice system. Although numerous studies explore gender-based disparities in the criminal justice sphere, only a very small number of studies explore such disparities in the civil arena. We found clear disparities in the allocation of litigation costs between men and women. Male plaintiffs who lost were ordered to pay the winners' legal fees more often than were losing women as sole plaintiffs or as part of all-women plaintiff groups. Likewise, the fees women plaintiffs who lost a case were obliged to pay were less than those required of losing men, and women defendants who won cases received higher fee awards than similarly situated men.