Western Michigan University

Name of Project: Project on the U.S. Court of Appeals

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ashlyn Kuersten
Department of Political Science
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49008
(269) 387-5690 voice
(269) 387-3999 fax
Based on a grant from the National Science Foundation (SES-9911284)

In an attempt to encourage systematic analysis of available judicial databases among the widest audience possible, this site is intended to help scholars utilize and merge several previously funded National Science Foundation datasets with the recently released Appeals Court Database (ICPSR 2086). To facilitate more direct comparisons of decision making and judicial behavior on all three levels of the federal judicial system, the NSF previously funded the collection of several datasets. As such, major advances in our knowledge of judicial decision making was achieved. But the greatest utility of these funded projects will be achieved by merging the available datasets together. In fact, the coding conventions employed in the collection of these data sets were coordinated so that several data sets could be compiled together, thus making significant comparisons between the different levels of federal courts feasible, or be used in combination with other non-judicial data to make comparisons among the different branches of U.S. government.

However, merging these databases has proved difficult; with several thousand observations and several hundred variables, merging these enormous data sources has proved extremely cumbersome. This website is an attempt to open access of this data to a wider audience. It facilitates the merging of the Appeals Court Database with other available datasets, both judicial databases that were funded by the NSF and otherwise. This link facilitates primarily the use of the Appeals Court Database with the Judicial Background Characteristics, and includes the statistical program codes for SAS and SPSS. The hope is that this site will facilitate easier, in-depth, systematic analysis of appeals' court decisions.

Be aware that the dateset files are rather large. Documentation and other files are available in Adobe Acrobat PDF files. You will need Adobe's Free Acrobat Reader version 3.0 (or later) to read the files. If you do not have Acrobat Reader installed, follow this link to www.adobe.com to download the free application. The PDF files can be viewed, downloaded, and printed from your machine.

If you should find any errors or have comments or suggestions to make this site more user-friendly, please let me know.

Datasets and Documentation:

Court of Appeals Database in SAS and SPSS formats

Supreme Court Database in SAS, SPSS, and ASCII formats

Judge Background Database (Auburn Dataset) in SAS, SPSS, and ASCII