NSF-funded study will examine how judges behave in world’s high courts

judges and lawyers in a courtroom

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For a first of its kind empirical study, holistically examining judicial behavior of high courts at the international level, comparative law scholar Nuno Garoupa, professor at the Texas A&M University School of Law, has received an $86,130 National Science Foundation grant.

Garoupa is leading the project, “Facilitating Empirical Study of Judicial Behavior on Constitutional Courts from a Comparative Perspective”, along with Rebecca Gill, associate professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Lydia Tiede, associate professor at the University of Houston.

The project began when Garoupa noticed that the vast majority of  judicial research is country-specific.

“Without a mechanism to compare these findings at a broader level, the impact of this research is limited,” Garoupa said. “While there are significantly more studies about judicial behavior in high courts outside the United States than in the past, there is no unifying theory or concerted effort to use the country specific knowledge to develop a more integrated body of judicial decision-making theory and empirical research. To address the resulting single-country focus, it’s important to bring together a wide range of scholars to develop generalizable theories about judicial behavior on high courts.”

In Spring 2018, the School of Law will bring these scholars together for a two-day workshop, expected to culminate in both a reference book by high court region, and new research for publication in leading political science, law, sociology, and economics journals.

In advance of the workshop, Garoupa, Gill, and Tiede are conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis on data collected from courts, while also identifying measurable determinants and generating measures that are equivalent across systems.

“This grant and the associated research are just the start of developing generalized theories of judicial court behavior across multiple regions,” Garoupa said. “In the long run, we hope that the workshop will lead to further workshops and additional publications advancing and testing comparative theories of judicial decision-making.”

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