Organizations, complexity, and decision making in the U.S. Courts of Appeals
Moyer, Laura Prizer
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By all appearances, United States Courts of Appeals represent a unified front in creating national legal policy. Yet these twelve circuits differ substantially with respect to a number of organizational characteristics and practices that influence the legal outcomes they render. Because the majority of cases heard by the Courts of Appeals will not be heard by another court, these differences may impact thousands of litigants every year if they influence judicial decision making processes. This dissertation examines whether and how the variation in organizational characteristics of the circuits influences the clarity and consistency of legal outcomes in the United States Courts of Appeals. I am particularly interested in how such organizational characteristics serve to mitigate or exacerbate complexity in the circuits’ decision making environment. The findings suggest that the theoretical perspective offered by the bounded rationality account is useful in aiding our understanding of judicial behavior in the Courts of Appeals, especially when considered alongside other models of cognition and decision making.