The Courts of Appeals

Authored by: Susan Haire , Reginald S. Sheehan , Ali S. Masood

Routledge Handbook of Judicial Behavior

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913356
eBook ISBN: 9781315691527
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315691527.ch14

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Abstract

The U.S. Courts of Appeals play a critical policy-making role within the American legal system, given that that these courts oversee a large number of disputes and effectively serve as the final arbiter of most judicial outcomes. The past few decades represent a shift, with scholarship increasingly attentive to the decision-making dynamics in these intermediate appellate courts. Research on the circuits has thrived, with large-N datasets and advances in automated content analysis providing scholars with greater leverage when conducting tests of new theoretical perspectives. We begin with an overview of studies on judicial selection and the implications of courts staffed by visiting judges who are needed to satisfy caseload demands. Then, we assess the types of cases and screening procedures that result in oral argument. We also explore how better-resourced and more-experienced litigants tend to prevail in these courts. Finally, we engage contemporary research, in which the theoretical focus increasingly shifts from ideological influences on judicial voting behavior to understanding the role of law and the institutional context where circuit judges seemingly take into account precedent, the preferences of panel colleagues, and reactions from courts above and below the U.S. Courts of Appeals.

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