Judging on a Collegial Court: Influences on Federal Appellate Decision Making

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Overview

Dissensus is often viewed in the professional world as a starting point for collaboration; rather than leaving decisions to just one person, dissent offers the opportunity to rethink or reinvent an idea, leading, one hopes, to a better result. When dissensus occurs in a federal court, however, it raises the question of whether this difference of opinion maintains the integrity of the judiciary or undermines its legitimacy. In Judging on a Collegial Court: Influences on Federal Appellate Decision Making, Virginia Hettinger, Stefanie Lindquist, and Wendy Martinek examine the dynamic that gives rise to such dissensus in federal appeals courts, revealing how the appellate process shapes the content and the consistency of the law.

The authors examine horizontal dissensus in the minority of cases in which there are dissenting or concurring—as opposed to unanimous—opinions. Primarily investigating why judges on the appeals courts agree or disagree with one another regarding the outcomes of the cases before them, the authors also examine vertical dissensus and ask why judges affirm or reverse lower court judges whose cases are decided on appeal. Focusing on the behavioral aspects of disagreement within a panel and between the levels of the federal judicial hierarchy, the authors reveal the impact of individual attitudes or preferences on judicial decision-making, and hence on political divisions in the broader society.

University of Virginia Press

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Editorial Reviews

Sheldon GoldmanUniversity of Massachusetts at Amherst
"The authors, using sophisticated state-of-the-art statistical techniques, present convincing and often surprising answers to their research questions. Their work helps to illuminate judicial voting and judicial opinion behavior on the appeals courts and as such contributes to our understanding of appeals court decision-making. The book will surely be considered a classic in the field.
Tracey E. George
"This is an excellent and ambitious work that is theoretically driven and empirically grounded. The authors offer a persuasive and compelling account of the internal dynamics of the U.S. Courts of Appeals.... It is challenging to offer a unified circuit court model. But the authors do that and much more. The resulting work is meticulously researched and well-written. It will be a definitive work on the courts.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813926971
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Series: Constitutionalism and Democracy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia A. Hettinger is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. Stefanie A. Lindquist is Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University. Wendy L. Martinek is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

University of Virginia Press

Virginia A. Hettinger is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. Stefanie A. Lindquist is Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Vanderbilt University. Wendy L. Martinek is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

University of Virginia Press

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Table of Contents

1 Horizontal and vertical dissensus 5
2 Theoretical perspectives on decision making in appellate courts 28
3 Why do judges write separate opinions? 47
4 The strategy of dissent 73
5 The decision to reverse 89
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