Appeals mechanisms, litigant selection, and the structure of judicial hierarchies

Charles M. Cameron, Lewis A. Kornhauser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The previous essay elaborated on the theme of compliance in a judicial hierarchy. This essay pulls back to ask broader questions about judicial hierarchies that inquire into the logic of hierarchies as ways of minimizing and correcting errors. Three models are developed. The first approaches the question from a "macro" perspective of the adjudicatory system. It identifies conditions on the relative rates at which wrongly decided cases are appealed and the rates at which errors are corrected and introduced by an appellate process to determine when the addition of another appellate tier would be desirable. The essay then provides two team models of appeal that provide microfoundations for an analysis of hierarchy. The first of these team models shows the power of litigant selection of cases to appeal in the determination of the structure of the hierarchy when courts simply correct errors. With perfect selection by litigants, the optimal hierarchy in an error-correcting judiciary has exactly three tiers. The second of these team models shows that litigants will appeal only hard cases and that the rate of appeal will be a function of the quality of the court.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInstitutional Games and the U.S. Supreme Court
PublisherUniversity of Virginia Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9780813934198
ISBN (Print)9780813925271
StatePublished - Oct 5 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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