Case Citation Patterns in the U.S. Courts of Appeals and the Legal Academy

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The Justice System Journal




Is there a disconnect between the priorities that make cases important to the legal academy and American courts and judges? We use previously unexplored data on the decisions of federal appellate judges to cite cases compared to the decisions of legal academics to cite the same cases. One component of our approach is an investigation of case-level characteristics, and we focus on these and other factors that structure decisions to cite cases across three different contexts: within a federal circuit, by courts out of circuit, and in law review articles. Our results highlight a divergence between what prompts judges and those in the legal academy to cite cases, and, to our knowledge, this is the first study to compare the drivers of court citation with those of law review citation.