CELS VIII: Data is Revealing, Part 1.

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is the Murray Shusterman Professor of Transactional and Business Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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6 Responses

  1. Charles OConnor says:

    They automated text processing of appellate opinions and find significant judge-level effects on whether the panel reverses the district court’s opinion, as well as strong effects for the decision to designate an opinion for publication in the first instance

    In plain English, what does this mean?

  2. Dave Hoffman says:

    1. They used a computer program to pull information from judicial opinions instead of coding them by hand.

    2. They figured out that if a particular judge is on a panel, that panel was much more likely to reverse holding many other factors constant.

    3. Particular judge-led panels are much more likely to designate their opinions for publication than others.

  3. Charles OConnor says:

    Thanks, do you know what program they used to pull information from judicial opinions

  4. Ryan Copus says:

    Hi Charles. We wrote Python scripts to convert the text to a data frame and used R to clean and analyze it. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to email me at r w c o p u s @berkeley.edu (without the spaces), and I’d be happy to offer more detail. There’s still tons of stuff we’d like to do, but we think this is good start.

  5. abstain says:

    Dave, CELS does not have “debates”. It’s an academic conference of (mostly) serious empiricists. Empiricists often disagree on important matters, but this doesn’t turn their exchanges into something as glib, shallow, and zing-oriented as a “debate”. Our “debates” are conducted in Appendices to our papers. What you see in presentations is a shell.

  6. Dave Hoffman says:


    If you say so. FWIW, I didn’t see a zing, but I did see some POWs!, if we are going to be making batman references.