This paper presents a simple framework for analyzing a hierarchical system of judicial auditing. We concentrate on (what we perceive to be) the two principal reasons that courts and/or legislatures tend to scrutinize the decisions of lower-echelon actors: imprecision and ideological bias. In comparing these two reasons, we illustrate how each may yield systematically distinct auditing and reversal behaviors. While auditing for imprecision tends to bring about even-handed review/reversal, auditing for political bias tends to be significantly more one-sided. Examples of these tendencies can be found in a number of legal applications, including administrative law, constitutional law, and interpretive theories of jurisprudence. Moreover, our analysis suggests that political "diversity" among initial decision-makers (in addition to its other laudable goals) may be an important and generally underappreciated means for economizing on judicial administrative costs and easing the workload burdens on upper-echelon actors.
Matthew L. Spitzer & Eric L. Talley,
Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 29, p. 649, 2000; USC CLEO Research Paper No. 98-22
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