Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What Are Supreme Court Justices Reading?

Simon Fodden wrote an article today in The Court (Osgoode Hall Law School) that analyzes the "Authors Cited" sections of Supreme Court of Canada judgments for 2006.

Entitled What is the Supreme Court Reading?, the article, according to Fodden, "reveals a meagre and mundane stock of stimulation, heavy on textbooks and light on theory".


Fodden adds: "I assume that the great bulk of references in decisions originate in parties' factums and do not represent independent research by the judges".

Blame the lawyers.

On a more serious note, Fodden does provide an interesting breakdown:

  • 206 separate works were cited, but only 47 (23%) were from academic or professional journals
  • "The works most frequently cited are those dealing with statutory interpretation. Elmer Driedger's book on the Construction of Statutes was cited 14 time in one version or another, and Pierre-André Côté's writings on the interpretation of statutes were cited 5 times."
  • "After that, things drop off rapidly: 2 authors are cited 4 times each, 3 are cited 3 times each, 43 are cited twice each, and the remaining 123 cited only once - a perfect illustration of the 'long tail' in statistics".
  • "Of the 47 journal articles cited, over half (26) were a decade old or older, 15 were published within the last five years, and the remainder fell in between. The articles came from 30 journals, of which two-thirds were Canadian and one-third foreign (essentially American)".
  • "The most frequently cited Canadian law journal was the Canadian Bar Review (9 times), followed by the McGill Law Journal (5 times); 9 of the articles cited from these journals were a decade or more old".


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:28 pm


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