The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
Judicial Precedents: Sociometric Relations 1

Sociometric relations basically refer to the relations of attraction and repulsion that exist among persons or among social entities.2 In this regard, courts differ in the extent to which they are cited approvingly by other courts, and they differ in the extent to which they themselves cite other courts approvingly. Likewise, courts differ in the extent to which they are cited disapprovingly by other courts, and in the extent to which they themselves cite other courts disapprovingly. It is the purpose of this chapter to indicate some of these differences and to account at least partially for their existence. While sociometric relations within American courts have frequently been studied,3 sociometric relations between or among them have not.4


I. THE RESEARCH DESIGN

The courts analyzed consist of all the courts of the 48 state jurisdictions and the one federal jurisdiction whose cases are covered in the 1955- 1959Shepard's Citations.5 This is a multivolumed set of books that

____________________
1
The writer gratefully thanks Professors Guetzkow and Rosenblum of Northwestern University for the constructive suggestion they made concerning this chapter.
2
Lindsey & Borgatta, Sociometic Measurement, 1 HANDBOOK OF SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY405-48 ( 1954).
3
See, for example, C. H. PRITCHETT, THE ROOSEVELT COURT: A STUDY IN JUDICIAL POLITICS AND VALUES, 1937-47 ( 1948); G. SCHUBERT, QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS OF JUDICIAL BEHAVIOR77-172 ( 1959); and Snyder, The Supreme Court as a Small Group, 37 SOC. FORCES232-38 ( 1958).
4
See, however, Mott et al., Judicial Personnel, 167 ANNALS143-55 ( 1933), in which Mott shows that the state supreme courts most frequently cited by the United States Supreme Court are those courts whose members tend to be better educated and more active in professional organizations. Francis Heller of the University of Kansas is currently working on a trend analysis of whom the United States Supreme Court has been citing during the past 100 years.
5
SHEPARD'S CITATIONS ( 1955- 1959).

-59-

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