The four collaborating principal investigators in this project (Stacia L. Haynie, Reginald S. Sheehan, Donald R. Songer, and C. Neal Tate) will continue and expand their efforts to develop for public use a systematic, replicable database to support comparative analyses of courts, judges, and their behavior. To further this objective, the principal investigators will extend and expand the multi-country database they are creating with support from National Science Foundation awards (9975180, 9975237, 9975315, 9975323). That database supports descriptive and theoretical research by the whole scholarly community concerned with courts and judges and their functions and behaviors across a number of national/cultural boundaries. It also allows the principal investigators to pursue an initial research agenda highlighting substantive areas that can be fruitfully studied across many nations and many times. The development of this database rests on a central proposition: Theory and data are intimately related. As new data become available, new theories and hypotheses are created and tested. For the overwhelming majority of the world's courts, social scientists lack even the most basic descriptive data summarizing their institutional characteristics, historical development, functional processes, or institutional and individual behaviors. With little more than such simple, descriptive data, scholars might be able to answer any number of theoretically interesting questions. The database that has been compiled under the previous awards show how even a simple analysis of those data provides impressive answers to questions, such as "What Do Supreme Courts Do?" and how general is "Party Capability Theory?" The initial project contains a sample of 100 reported supreme court decisions (or the universe, whichever is smaller) per year for 15 years for a sample eight nations with Anglo-American legal systems. The principal investigators will extend the temporal coverage of the database to include the 34 most recent years of available data and to expand the national and cultural coverage of the database by adding an important civil law, non-English-using court, the Suprema Corte de la Justicia de la Nacion of Mexico.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
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Christopher J. Zorn
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University of North Texas
United States
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