Document Type


Publication Date



Judicial decision making, Predictors of judicial decisions, Empirical legal studies, Judicial characteristics and win rates, Judge effects on case outcomes


Civil Procedure | Judges | Litigation


It is widely believed that the background and worldview of judges influence their decisions. This article uses the fact that judges are assigned their cases randomly to assess the effect of judicial background on the outcome of cases from the day-to-day docket in three federal trial courts. Unlike the political science findings of ideological influence in published opinions, we find little evidence that judges differ in their decisions with respect to the mass of case outcomes. Characteristics of the judges or the political party of the judge's appointing president are not significant predictors of judicial decisions.

Publication Citation

Published in: Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 24, no. 2 (June 1995).