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Empirical legal studies

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Full-Text Articles in Law

What Is The Optimal Basis For Imposing Government Liens?, Randall K. Johnson Aug 2023

What Is The Optimal Basis For Imposing Government Liens?, Randall K. Johnson

Faculty Works

By presenting a detailed case study, which focuses on who gets subjected to government liens, this essay helps U.S. states to make more informed decisions. It seeks to do so by critically assessing Illinois’ historic approach to lien imposition and enforcement, in part, because this state had the most forced sales of real property in recent years. In addition, Illinois also generated the largest amount of related economic losses in the U.S. during that same time period. This state did so despite adhering to the old majority rule for turning over surplus value from such sales. That rule required creditors …


If We Build It, Will They Legislate? Empirically Testing The Potential Of The Nondelegation Doctrine To Curb Congressional "Abdication", Daniel E. Walters, Elliott Ash Apr 2023

If We Build It, Will They Legislate? Empirically Testing The Potential Of The Nondelegation Doctrine To Curb Congressional "Abdication", Daniel E. Walters, Elliott Ash

Faculty Scholarship

A widely held view for why the Supreme Court would be right to revive the nondelegation doctrine is that Congress has perverse incentives to abdicate its legislative role and evade accountability through the use of delegations, either expressly delineated or implied through statutory imprecision, and that enforcement of the nondelegation doctrine would correct for those incentives. We call this the Field of Dreams Theory—if we build the nondelegation doctrine, Congress will legislate. Unlike originalist arguments for the revival of the nondelegation doctrine, this theory has widespread appeal and is instrumental to the Court’s project of gaining popular acceptance of a …


Foreword, Jessica Silbey Mar 2023

Foreword, Jessica Silbey

Faculty Scholarship

Most of us think we are familiar with graffiti – lettering on trains or graphic images on walls that follow us as we walk by. But Enrico Bonadio’s new book on graffiti and street art opens a door to more complex and nuanced worlds of artists and their communities. The focus is on everyday creators of graffiti and street art. Built from nearly 100 interviews and hundreds of hours of observation, the book is filled with the voices of artists and vivid details of their plein air studios and interactions. Also present in the book is the author, who weaves …


The Age Of Fraud, James Toomey Jan 2023

The Age Of Fraud, James Toomey

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

We think of scams primarily as a problem for older adults. Indeed, in the past few years, states and the federal government have undertaken a range of legal actions designed to prevent seniors, as a distinct class, from scams-- from more harshly punishing perpetrators of scams directed towards older adults to authorizing financial institutions to closely monitor and rapidly freeze the accounts of their older clients. But this successful, popular, and bipartisan law reform movement has taken place without a thorough empirical understanding of whether, in fact, seniors fall victim to scams more frequently than other age groups.

This study …


Religious Convictions, Anna Offit Jan 2023

Religious Convictions, Anna Offit

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

The Anglo-American jury emerged at a time when legal and religious conceptions of justice were entwined. Today, however, though the American public remains comparatively religious, the country’s legal system draws a distinction between legal and religious modes of determining culpability and passing judgment. This Article examines the doctrine that governs the place of religious belief and practice in U.S. jury selection proceedings. It argues that the discretion afforded to judges with respect to applying the Batson antidiscrimination doctrine has given these beliefs and practices an ambiguous status. On the one hand, judges aim to protect prospective religious jurors from discrimination. …


Trial Selection And Estimating Damages Equations, Keith N. Hylton Jan 2023

Trial Selection And Estimating Damages Equations, Keith N. Hylton

Faculty Scholarship

Many studies have employed regression analysis with data drawn from court opinions. For example, an analyst might use regression analysis to determine the factors that explain the size of damages awards or the factors that determine the probability that the plaintiff will prevail at trial or on appeal. However, the full potential of multiple regression analysis in legal research has not been realized, largely because of the sample selection problem. We propose a method for controlling for sample selection bias using data from court opinions.


Board Committee Charters And Esg Accountability, Lisa Fairfax Sep 2022

Board Committee Charters And Esg Accountability, Lisa Fairfax

All Faculty Scholarship

We are currently witnessing a sharp increase in corporate attention on environmental, sustainability, and governance (“ESG”). The steep rise in corporate focus on ESG has prompted considerable criticism, not only from those concerned about how best to ensure that corporations are held accountable for their ESG commitments, but also from those who strenuously insist that corporate commitment to ESG is merely rhetorical or otherwise merely a passing fad. In an effort to shed light on the concerns around ESG accountability, and gain perspective about the potential illusory or short-term nature of ESG, I conducted my own survey of the committee …


Influence By Intimidation: Business Lobbying In The Regulatory Process, Alex Acs, Cary Coglianese Jul 2022

Influence By Intimidation: Business Lobbying In The Regulatory Process, Alex Acs, Cary Coglianese

All Faculty Scholarship

Interest group influence in the policy process is often assumed to occur through a mechanism of exchange, persuasion, or subsidy. Here, we explore how business groups may also exert influence by intimidating policymakers—a form of persuasion, but one based not on the provision of policy information but of political information. We develop a theory where a business firm lobbies a regulator to communicate political information about its capacity to commit to future influence-seeking activities that would sanction the regulator. The regulator assesses the credibility of this message by evaluating the firm’s commitment to lobbying. Guided by our theory, we present …


Police Frisks, David S. Abrams, Hanming Fang, Priyanka Goonetilleke May 2022

Police Frisks, David S. Abrams, Hanming Fang, Priyanka Goonetilleke

All Faculty Scholarship

The standard economic model of police stops implies that the contraband hit rate should rise when the number of stops falls, ceteris paribus. We provide empirical corroboration of such optimizing models of police behavior by examining changes in stops and frisks around two extraordinary events of 2020 - the pandemic onset and the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd. We find that hit rates from pedestrian and vehicle stops generally rose as stops and frisks fell dramatically. Using detailed data, we are able to rule out a number of alternative explanations, including changes in street population, crime, police …


Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan Wright, Shima Baradaran Baughman, Christopher Robertson Apr 2022

Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan Wright, Shima Baradaran Baughman, Christopher Robertson

Faculty Scholarship

In their charging and bargaining decisions, prosecutors have unparalleled and nearly-unchecked discretion that leads to incarceration or freedom for millions of Americans each year. More than courts, legislators, or any other justice system player, in the aggregate prosecutors’ choices are the key drivers of outcomes, whether the rates of mass incarceration or the degree of racial disparities in justice. To date, there is precious little empirical research on how prosecutors exercise their breathtaking discretion. We do not know whether they consistently charge like cases alike or whether crime is in the eye of the beholder. We do not know what …


Decoding Nondelegation After Gundy: What The Experience In State Courts Tells Us About What To Expect When We're Expecting, Daniel E. Walters Feb 2022

Decoding Nondelegation After Gundy: What The Experience In State Courts Tells Us About What To Expect When We're Expecting, Daniel E. Walters

Faculty Scholarship

The nondelegation doctrine theoretically limits Congress’s ability to delegate legislative powers to the executive agencies that make up the modern administrative state. Yet, in practice, the U.S. Supreme Court has, since the New Deal, shied away from enforcing any limits on congressional delegation. That may change in the near future. In Gundy v. United States, the Court narrowly upheld a delegation, and a dissent signaled deep doubts about the Court’s longstanding “intelligible principle” standard and offered a new framework to replace it. Subsequent events strongly suggest that the Court is poised to move in the direction contemplated by the dissent …


Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan S. Wright, Shima Baradaran Baughman, Christopher Robertson Jan 2022

Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan S. Wright, Shima Baradaran Baughman, Christopher Robertson

Journal Articles

In their charging and bargaining decisions, prosecutors have unparalleled and nearly-unchecked discretion that leads to incarceration or freedom for millions of Americans each year. More than courts, legislators, or any other justice system player, in the aggregate prosecutors’ choices are the key drivers of outcomes, whether the rates of mass incarceration or the degree of racial disparities in justice. To date, there is precious little empirical research on how prosecutors exercise their breathtaking discretion. We do not know whether they consistently charge like cases alike or whether crime is in the eye of the beholder. We do not know what …


Felony Financial Disenfranchisement, Neel U. Sukhatme, Alexander Billy, Gaurav Bagwe Jan 2022

Felony Financial Disenfranchisement, Neel U. Sukhatme, Alexander Billy, Gaurav Bagwe

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

Individuals with prior felony convictions often must complete all terms of their sentence before they regain voter eligibility. Many jurisdictions include legal-financial obligations (LFOs) — fines, fees, and/or restitution stemming from convictions — in the terms of the sentence. Twenty-eight states, governing over 182 million Americans, either directly or indirectly tie LFO repayment to voting privileges, a practice we call felony financial disenfranchisement.

Proponents of felony financial disenfranchisement posit that returning citizens must satisfy the financial obligations stemming from convictions to restore themselves as community equals. Moralism aside, others claim low rates of electoral participation among those with felony convictions …


Credibility In Empirical Legal Analysis, Hillel J. Bavli Jan 2022

Credibility In Empirical Legal Analysis, Hillel J. Bavli

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Empirical analysis is central in both legal scholarship and litigation, but it is not credible. Researchers can manipulate data to arrive at any conclusion they wish to obtain. A practice known as data fishing—searching for and selectively reporting methods and results that are favorable to the researcher—entirely invalidates a study’s results by giving rise to false positives and false impressions. Nevertheless, it is prevalent in law, leading to false claims, incorrect verdicts, and destructive policy. In this article, I examine the harm that data fishing in empirical legal research causes. I then build on methods in the sciences to develop …


New Copyright Stories: Clearing The Way For Fair Wages And Equitable Working Conditions In American Theater And Other Creative Industries, Jessica Silbey Jan 2022

New Copyright Stories: Clearing The Way For Fair Wages And Equitable Working Conditions In American Theater And Other Creative Industries, Jessica Silbey

Faculty Scholarship

We need some new intellectual property stories. By stories, I don’t mean entertaining fictions. I mean instead accounts or explanations that make sense of the world as it is lived by everyday people. Most of our relevant intellectual property laws were forged in the mid-twentieth century and have failed to keep pace with the transformations in creative and innovative practices of the twentyfirst. Being out-of-sync or failing to recognize broader existing stakeholders means laws are poorly aligned with on-the-ground realities and are out-of-touch with values and interests of the people laws serve. The Article at the center of this Symposium …


Racial Rhetoric Or Reality? Cautious Optimism On The Link Between Corporate #Blm Speech And Behavior, Lisa Fairfax Jan 2022

Racial Rhetoric Or Reality? Cautious Optimism On The Link Between Corporate #Blm Speech And Behavior, Lisa Fairfax

All Faculty Scholarship

The summer of 2022 marks the two-year anniversary of the dramatic rekindling of the #BlackLivesMatter movement because of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other unarmed Black people at the hands of police. The summer of 2020 saw cities in the United States and around the world erupt in protest, with calls to dismantle racist policies and practices both in the criminal system and within the broader society, with a particular emphasis on policies and practices impacting Black people. The summer of 2022 also marks the two-year anniversary of the visible and somewhat surprising avalanche of corporate statements …


Mapping The Civil Justice Gap In Federal Court, Roger Michalski, Andrew Hammond Jan 2022

Mapping The Civil Justice Gap In Federal Court, Roger Michalski, Andrew Hammond

UF Law Faculty Publications

Unrepresented litigants make up a sizable and normatively important chunk of civil litigation in the federal courts. Despite their importance, we still know little about who these pro se litigants are. Debates about pro se litigation take place without sufficient empirical information. To help fill some of the gaps in our understanding of pro se litigants, this Article takes a new approach by mapping where pro se litigants live.

Using a massive data set of 2.5 million federal dockets from a ten-year period, we obtained addresses of non-prisoner pro se litigants. We then geolocated these addresses and cross-referenced that information …


Do Esg Funds Deliver On Their Promises?, Quinn Curtis, Jill E. Fisch, Adriana Z. Robertson Dec 2021

Do Esg Funds Deliver On Their Promises?, Quinn Curtis, Jill E. Fisch, Adriana Z. Robertson

All Faculty Scholarship

Corporations have received growing criticism for their role in climate change, perpetuating racial and gender inequality, and other pressing social issues. In response to these concerns, shareholders are increasingly focusing on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria in selecting investments, and asset managers are responding by offering a growing number of ESG mutual funds. The flow of assets into ESG is one of the most dramatic trends in asset management.

But are these funds giving investors what they promise? This question has attracted the attention of regulators, with the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) …


Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan S. Wright, Shima Baughman, Christopher Robertson Jul 2021

Inside The Black Box Of Prosecutor Discretion, Megan S. Wright, Shima Baughman, Christopher Robertson

Utah Law Faculty Scholarship

In their charging and bargaining decisions, prosecutors have unparalleled and nearly-unchecked discretion that leads to incarceration or freedom for millions of Americans each year. More than courts, legislators, or any other justice system player, in the aggregate prosecutors’ choices are the key drivers of outcomes, whether the rates of mass incarceration or the degree of racial disparities in justice. To date, there is precious little empirical research on how prosecutors exercise their breathtaking discretion. We do not know whether they consistently charge like cases alike or whether crime is in the eye of the beholder. We do not know what …


The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro Jun 2021

The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro

All Faculty Scholarship

President Donald Trump and members of his Administration repeatedly asserted that they had delivered substantial deregulation that fueled positive trends in the U.S. economy prior to the COVID pandemic. Drawing on an original analysis of data on federal regulation from across the Trump Administration’s four years, we show that the Trump Administration actually accomplished much less by way of deregulation than it repeatedly claimed—and much less than many commentators and scholars have believed. In addition, and also contrary to the Administration’s claims, overall economic trends in the pre-pandemic Trump years tended simply to follow economic trends that began years earlier. …


Unrules, Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler, Daniel Walters Apr 2021

Unrules, Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler, Daniel Walters

All Faculty Scholarship

At the center of contemporary debates over public law lies administrative agencies’ discretion to impose rules. Yet, for every one of these rules, there are also unrules nearby. Often overlooked and sometimes barely visible, unrules are the decisions that regulators make to lift or limit the scope of a regulatory obligation, for instance through waivers, exemptions, and exceptions. In some cases, unrules enable regulators to reduce burdens on regulated entities or to conserve valuable government resources in ways that make law more efficient. However, too much discretion to create unrules can facilitate undue business influence over the law, weaken regulatory …


Enhanced Public Defense Improves Pretrial Outcomes And Reduces Racial Disparities, Paul S. Heaton Apr 2021

Enhanced Public Defense Improves Pretrial Outcomes And Reduces Racial Disparities, Paul S. Heaton

All Faculty Scholarship

Numerous jurisdictions are working to reform pretrial processes to reduce or eliminate money bail and decrease pretrial detention. Although reforms such as the abandonment of bail schedules or adoption of actuarial risk assessment tools have been widely enacted, the role of defense counsel in the pretrial process has received less attention.

This Article considers an approach to pretrial reform focused on improving the quality of defense counsel. In Philadelphia, a substantial fraction of people facing criminal charges are detained following rapid preliminary hearings where initial release conditions are set by bail magistrates operating with limited information. Beginning in 2017, the …


How To End Our Stories: A Study Of The Perspectives Of Seniors On Dementia And Decision-Making, James Toomey Jan 2021

How To End Our Stories: A Study Of The Perspectives Of Seniors On Dementia And Decision-Making, James Toomey

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Because dementia can cause individuals to make decisions that they otherwise would not, the law needs a mechanism to determine which decisions are entitled to the respect of the legal system and which may be overridden by others. In the philosophical literature, three primary theories for how to make this determination have been offered. First, "Cognitivism" posits that whether a decision should be recognized is a function of the mechanical functioning of the individual's brain at the time the decision is made. Second, "Essentialism" holds that decisions should be recognized so long as they are consistent with the cluster of …


Strength In Numbers (Of Words): Empirical Analysis Of Preambles And Public Comments, Anthony L. Moffa Jan 2021

Strength In Numbers (Of Words): Empirical Analysis Of Preambles And Public Comments, Anthony L. Moffa

Faculty Publications

The empirical observation of a four-decades-long trend towards longer and longer federal agency rulemakings laid the foundation for this series of studies and associated law review articles. The second in that series, this work will add necessary data, test important hypotheses, and draw new conclusions to guide policymakers. Any serious observer of the Federal Register recognizes that different sections of a rulemaking serve different purposes. And agencies have historically utilized one section in particular to insulate their rules from judicial vacation or remand – the “concise general statement of basis and purpose.” Thus, this new study will collect and analyze …


Becoming Global Lawyers? A Comparative Study Of Civic Professionalism, John Bliss Jan 2021

Becoming Global Lawyers? A Comparative Study Of Civic Professionalism, John Bliss

Sturm College of Law: Faculty Scholarship

Through their professional education and training, new lawyers are generally encouraged to adopt a civic vision of professional identity. This article explores convergences and diverges in how new lawyers entering an increasingly globalized legal profession conceive of their civic roles in different national contexts. In particular, I examine corporate lawyers-in-training in the U.S. and China, drawing on interviews and a cross-cultural identity mapping method to compare their accounts of the lived experiences of civic professionalism. I find that professional identity formation in the U.S. sample is largely marked by role distancing and a sense of constrained public-interest expression. In contrast, …


An Innovative Approach To Movement Lawyering: An Immigrant Rights Case Study, Christine N. Cimini, Doug Smith Jan 2021

An Innovative Approach To Movement Lawyering: An Immigrant Rights Case Study, Christine N. Cimini, Doug Smith

Articles

The role of lawyers in social change movements is more important than ever as communities mobilize around systemic racism, police killings, xenophobia, rising unemployment, and widening economic inequality. The immigrant rights movement is a critical part of these efforts to foment change. This Article leverages an in-depth case study – the rise and fall of the controversial immigration enforcement program known as Secure Communities - to explore how lawyers work as part of a community to challenge power and effectuate change. The dismantling of Secure Communities was widely credited to a relentless campaign to thwart the government’s then-expanding deportation strategy. …


Class Certification In The U.S. Courts Of Appeals: A Longitudinal Study, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2021

Class Certification In The U.S. Courts Of Appeals: A Longitudinal Study, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

All Faculty Scholarship

There is a vast literature on the modern class action, but little of it is informed by systematic empirical data. Mindful both that there have been few Supreme Court class certification decisions and that they may not provide an accurate picture of class action jurisprudence, let alone class action activity, over time, we created a comprehensive data set of class certification decisions in the United States Courts of Appeals consisting of all precedential panel decisions addressing whether a class should be certified from 1966 through 2017, and of nonprecedential panel decisions from 2002 through 2017.

In Section I, through a …


Improving The Credibility Of Empirical Legal Research: Practical Suggestions For Researchers, Journals, And Law Schools, Jason Chin, Alexander Dehaven, Tobias Heycke, Alexander Holcombe, David Mellor, Justin Pickett, Crystal Steltenpohl, Simine Vazire, Kathryn Zeiler Jan 2021

Improving The Credibility Of Empirical Legal Research: Practical Suggestions For Researchers, Journals, And Law Schools, Jason Chin, Alexander Dehaven, Tobias Heycke, Alexander Holcombe, David Mellor, Justin Pickett, Crystal Steltenpohl, Simine Vazire, Kathryn Zeiler

Faculty Scholarship

Fields closely related to empirical legal research are enhancing their methods to improve the credibility of their findings. This includes making data, analysis code, and other materials openly available, and preregistering studies. Empirical legal research appears to be lagging behind other fields. This may be due, in part, to a lack of meta-research and guidance on empirical legal studies. The authors seek to fill that gap by evaluating some indicators of credibility in empirical legal research, including a review of guidelines at legal journals. They then provide both general recommendations for researchers, and more specific recommendations aimed at three commonly …


Acknowledgements As A Window Into Legal Academia, W. Nicholson Price Ii, Jonathan Tietz Mar 2020

Acknowledgements As A Window Into Legal Academia, W. Nicholson Price Ii, Jonathan Tietz

Law & Economics Working Papers

Legal scholarship in the United States is an oddity—an institution built on student editorship, a lack of peer review, and a dramatically high proportion of solo authorship. It is often argued that this makes legal scholarship fundamentally different from scholarship in other fields, which is largely peer-reviewed by academics. We use acknowledgments in biographical footnotes from law-review articles to probe the nature of legal knowledge co-production and de facto peer review in legal literature. Using a survey of authors and editors and a textual analysis of approximately thirty thousand law-review articles from 2008 to 2017, we examined the nature of …


Litigating Epa Rules: A Fifty-Year Retrospective Of Environmental Rulemaking In The Courts, Cary Coglianese, Daniel E. Walters Jan 2020

Litigating Epa Rules: A Fifty-Year Retrospective Of Environmental Rulemaking In The Courts, Cary Coglianese, Daniel E. Walters

All Faculty Scholarship

Over the last fifty years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found itself repeatedly defending its regulations before federal judges. The agency’s engagement with the federal judiciary has resulted in prominent Supreme Court decisions, such as Chevron v. NRDC and Massachusetts v. EPA, which have left a lasting imprint on federal administrative law. Such prominent litigation has also fostered, for many observers, a longstanding impression of an agency besieged by litigation. In particular, many lawyers and scholars have long believed that unhappy businesses or environmental groups challenge nearly every EPA rule in court. Although some empirical studies have …