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 evenhanded review/reversal, auditing for political bias tends to be contingent on the first mover's chosen action. Examples of these tendencies can be found in a number of legal applications, including administrative law, constitutional law, and interpretive theories of jurisprudence. Our analysis also 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.
Matthew L. Spitzer & Eric L. Talley,
J. Legal. Stud.
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