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Do judges react to the probability of appellate review? Empirical evidence from trial court procedures


  • Michael Berlemann
  • Robin Christmann


The appellate review system is intended to serve as an efficient remedy for imperfect judicial decision making. However, it can fulfil this task only when appeals are ex ante unpredictable to the judge, and thus can be expected to occur primarily in case of a bad verdict. Using data from case records of a German trial court, we show that the probability of appeal can be predicted based on easily observable exogenous factors. Controlling for the complexity of a legal case, we find that judges also tend to decrease their effort when the ex ante probability of appeal is low. Thus, our empirical evidence indicates an inefficiency in the appellate review system because trial judges allocate their effort to cases not exclusively according to case complexity, but particularly according to the ex ante probability of being reviewed.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Berlemann & Robin Christmann, 2016. "Do judges react to the probability of appellate review? Empirical evidence from trial court procedures," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(3), pages 202-205, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:apeclt:v:23:y:2016:i:3:p:202-205
    DOI: 10.1080/13504851.2015.1064075

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    Cited by:

    1. Freyens, Benoit Pierre & Gong, Xiaodong, 2017. "Judicial decision making under changing legal standards: The case of dismissal arbitration," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 108-126.
    2. Berlemann, Michael & Christmann, Robin, 2017. "The Role of Precedents on Court Delay - Evidence from a civil law country," MPRA Paper 80057, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Beckmann, Klaus B., 2017. "Bounded rationality in differential games," Working Paper 178/2017, Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K10 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - General (Constitutional Law)
    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process


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