Law & Politics Book Review has a review by Steven Puro (St. Louis - Political Science) of a new book by Professor Frank B. Cross (U Texas): Decision Making in U.S. Courts of Appeals (Stanford University Press, April 2007). Cross is one of the leading American scholars doing empirical work on courts, having previously published important papers on precedent (With Stefanie Lindquist), activism, (idem), and network analysis of case law (with Thomas Smith).
From Steven Puro's review:
"A key element in Cross’ analysis is that law plays a significant role in circuit judges’ decision making and opinion writing. He explains that legal doctrine and legal threshold requirements, such as jurisdiction, standing and precedential effect of certain types of cases, are better determinants of outcomes than single variables, such as judicial ideology. He criticizes existing empirical research for an inability “to capture potential effects of the law on decision making” (p.39). Admittedly, he finds there are frequent difficulties in capturing a single legal variable for quantitative analysis. His analysis leaves the reader with caution about interaction among variables relevant to law and circuit court decision making".
Highly interesting for both political scientists and legal scholars. More at: Law & Politics Book Review