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Regional Common Law

Jan 22, 2020 | 06:00 PM c.t.

Seminar with Yun-chien Chang

(Academia Sinica, Taiwan)

Joint work with Geoffrey Miller

Drawing on a hand-collected data set of 7,354 state supreme court cases from 2003, this

study examines patterns of out-citations to decisions of other courts. We find robust

evidence that state supreme courts preferentially cite to decisions of courts (state and

federal) located in nearby states and correspondingly tend to refrain from citing decisions of

courts in faraway states. We also find strong evidence for a “gravity” model of citations

similar to the pattern postulated for international trade in goods: other things equal, the

volume of citations to courts in other states will be directly proportional to the size of the

cited state and inversely proportional to the distance between the citing and cited states.

We examine other potential influences on out-citation practices: cultural attitudes, political

similarity, ideological affinity, classifications in the Westlaw Reporter series, case type,

transmission of legal knowledge by attorneys, and the possible impact of choice-of-law rules.

In general, these factors other than distance and size play a minor role. The study suggests

the possibility of sub-national or regional effects in the administration of state judge-made


Time & Location

Jan 22, 2020 | 06:00 PM c.t.

Room 2202, Boltzmannstr. 3