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Empirical legal studies, Foreigners in U.S. courts, Xenophobia in American courts, Xenophilia, Xenophobic bias, Foreigner effect


Applied Statistics | Civil Procedure | Litigation


This article revisits the controversy regarding how foreigners fare in U.S. courts. The available data, if taken in a sufficiently big sample from numerous case categories and a range of years, indicate that foreigners have fared better in the federal courts than their domestic counterparts have fared. Thus, the data offer no support for the existence of xenophobic bias in U.S. courts. Nor do they establish xenophilia, of course. What the data do show is that case selection drives the outcomes for foreigners. Foreigners’ aversion to U.S. forums can elevate the foreigners’ success rates, when measured as a percentage of judgments rendered. Yet that aversion waxes and wanes over the years, having generally declined in the last twenty years but with an uptick subsequent to 9/11. Accordingly, that aversion has caused the foreigners’ “advantage” to follow the same track.


Accompanied by a commentary, in Chinese, written by former Cornell Law student Huang Guochang.

Publication Citation

Published in: Academia Sinica Law Journal, Inaugural Issue (March 2007).