Albert Yoon, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Judicial Disharmony: A Study of Dissent

Mon, 04/07/2014
4:30-6 PM, Kerstetter Room, Marx Hall
Event Category: 

Please join us for a LAPA Seminar with Albert Yoon, Professor of Law at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. His commentator is Stanley Katz, Lecturer with rank of Professor in Public and International Affairs at WWS and Director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies.

As always, the LAPA format asks that seminar participants familiarize themselves with the paper in advance. The commentator will open the session by summarizing the main themes in the paper and presenting some topics for discussion. The author then has the right of first response before we open to the floor for questions. The seminar will end with a brief reception in the Kerstetter Room, giving everyone a chance to mingle and meet.

Abstract: "While it is well documented that judges at times disagree on case outcomes, less understood is the process by which they justify their divergence. In this article, we empirically examine how judges differ in their view of the law that is relevant to a case. We create a new dataset looking at the universe of published opinions in federal appellate court cases from the United States between 2001 and 2005 that include a dissenting opinion. We find that judges who disagree on the outcome of a case largely disagree as to which precedents should apply. Authoring judges gravitate toward precedents that are ideologically similar to their own preferences. The precedents cited only by the majority are strongly ideologically correlated with the majority author’s preferences; the precedents cited only by the dissenting judge are ideologically similar to her preferences. The precedents that are cited by both the majority and the dissent (i.e., precedent that both judges agree are relevant to the case before them) are ideologically correlated with neither judge. Surprisingly, precedents are slightly more likely to be cited by both the majority author and the dissenting judge as the ideological distance between them increases."

Albert Yoon is a Professor of Law at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. Before coming to Toronto, Yoon was Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law. He received his undergraduate degree from Yale and his law and doctoral (political science) degrees from Stanford. During law school, he was the senior articles editor of the Stanford Law Review. Upon graduation he clerked for the Hon. R. Guy Cole of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Before joining Northwestern in 2001, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy Research at U.C. Berkeley. In 2003-04, he was a Law and Public Affairs Fellow at Princeton University, and in 2008-09 he was a Russell Sage Visiting Scholar in New York City.  Prof. Yoon's primary research areas are the legal profession, torts, judicial politics, American Political Development and corporate law. Albert's articles have appeared in the California Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, Virginia Law Review, American Law & Economics Review, and Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, among others. In 2007 he was awarded the Ronald H. Coase Prize from the University of Chicago for the best published (co-authored) paper in Law & Economics. 

Stanley Katz is President Emeritus of the American Council of Learned Societies, the leading organization in humanistic scholarship and education in the United States. Mr. Katz graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 1955 with a major in English History and Literature. He received his M.A. from Harvard in American History in 1959 and his Ph.D. in the same field from Harvard in 1961. He attended Harvard Law School in 1969-70. His recent research focuses upon the relationship of civil society and constitutionalism to democracy, and upon the relationship of the United States to the international human rights regime. He is the Editor in Chief of the recently published Oxford International Encyclopedia of Legal History, and the Editor of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise History of the United States Supreme Court. He also writes about higher education policy, and publishes a blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Formerly Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor of the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University, Mr. Katz is a leading expert on American legal and constitutional history, and on philanthropy and non-profit institutions. The author and editor of numerous books and articles, Mr. Katz has served as President of the Organization of American Historians and the American Society for Legal History and as Vice President of the Research Division of the American Historical Association. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Newberry Library and numerous other institutions. He also currently serves as Chair of the American Council of Learned Societies/Social Science Research Council Working Group on Cuba. Katz is a member of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the American Antiquarian Society, the American Philosophical Society; a Fellow of the American Society for Legal History, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Society of American Historians; and a Corresponding Member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He received the annual Fellows Award from Phi Beta Kappa in June, 2010. He has honorary degrees from several universities.


Funded by the Bouton Law Lecture Fund