A Model of Hierarchical Judicial Auditing

Eric L. Talley, Columbia Law School


This note develops a general game-theoretic framework for a model of auditing within a two-tiered judicial hierarchy. Using this framework, I characterize the equilibrium allocation of "real" versus "formal" authority between a lower court and a higher court, when the latter faces costs in reviewing lower court opinions. In particular, I study the equilibrium comparative statics relationship between (1) the costs of reviewing, (2) differences in "ideology" between the lower and higher court, and (3) the magnitude of measurement error within the lower court.