Citations to Foreign Law in the Supreme Court of Canada

Waiting for Globalization: an Empirical Study of the McLachlin Court’s Foreign Judicial Citations

Peter McCormick

41 Ottawa Law Review 209

From the abstract:

…This paper explores the Supreme Court of Canada’s citations to judicial authority since 2000. The paper argues that the notion of non-Canadian citation must be disaggregated into three component parts – English, American and everything else. – before it can usefully be examined, these three exhibiting quite different patterns; an d its concludes that in none of them can the “expanding globalization” thesis be sustained. … Finally, it looks at the kinds of cases that tend to include non-Canadian citations, and suggests that not only are we still waiting for globalization, but to the extent that we are focusing primarily on rights-based jurisprudence, we may also be looking in the wrong place.

FBI, BJS Launch Online Tool For Analyzing Crime Data

Welcome to a new way to access UCR statistics

The U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI have launched an online data tool, aimed at making it easier to research and analyze crime data. The data tool lets users perform queries on custom variables like year, agency, and type of offense. Until now, making comparisons of Uniform Crime Report data required searching annual reports and manually crunching the numbers. The new tool aims to make it easier for users to make use of the raw numbers, the FBI says.
BJS developed the UCR data tool for the FBI as part of a collaboration between the agencies to improve crime data accessibility. The replaces a long-standing data BJS online tool that presented crime trends from the FBI’s UCR. More information about the methodology and best practices for using the new tool are available on the site.

The (Nearly) Forgotten Early Empirical Legal Research

“The (Nearly) Forgotten Early Empirical Legal Research”

Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-26

HERBERT M. KRITZER, University of Minnesota Law School

The modern empirical legal studies movement has well-known antecedents in the law and society and law and economics traditions of the latter half of the 20th century. Less well known is the body of empirical research on legal phenomena from the period prior to World War II. This paper considers that earlier work with discussions of what accounts for the burst of such research in the 1920s and 30s, methodological and funding issues confronting that research, why the research seemed to come to an end in the latter part of the 1930s (to begin to reappear in the 1950s), and some of the continuities in findings between that research and more recent empirical research on law.


Source:  LSN Litigation & Procedure Vol. 10 No. 53,  07/30/2009

Immigration still driving prosecutions upward

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse just released this news bulletin:

“After several months of declines since reaching all-time highs in September, new immigration prosecutions in February were up 22% from the previous month. According to timely case-by-case data obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), these 8,179 cases represent an increase of about 90% from a year ago, and 250% from February 2004.

While immigration cases still account for more than half (53%) of all new federal prosecutions, new filings rose in nearly every other category as well, including drugs (up 49%), weapons (up 19%), white collar crime (up 24%) and government regulation (up 42%). Overall, new criminal cases are at the second-highest level recorded, up 27% from January and up 39% from a year ago.”

TRAC provides detailed reports on federal convictions, prosecutions and on selected government agencies’ enforcement trends.

Measure DHS – demographic and health surveys

Measure DHS offers demographic and health indicators by country. Some statistics are freely available, while registration is required to access some of the other data sets. Many of the datasets provide not only national figures, but also regional or state data.  Measure DHS is a useful supplement to the World Health Organization, UNICEF and World Bank statistics Web sites.

The two principle free databases are STATcompiler and  the HIV/AIDS Survey Indicators Databases.

Measure DHS

The MEASURE DHS project ( helps implement survey research, dissemination of data and capacity building in the areas of health and population. MEASURE DHS provides technical assistance for the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), the Service Provision Assessment Survey (SPA) and the AIDS Indicator Survey (AIS).

MEASURE DHS is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and is implemented byORC Macro.

UNICEF Information by Country

The UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF’) Information by Country portal is a quick way to get access to health, development and demographic statistics for over 150 couintries.  Makes comparisons among countries very easy. Simply selct a country and then click on the statistics link on the left.

Categories of statistics avaialable on the site:

Basic Indicators





Demographic Indicators

Economic Indicators


Child Protection

The Rate of Progress

Under-five mortality rankings

Federal Prosecution Data for December 2008

From the good folks at TracFed:

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse

Greetings from TRAC. The latest case-by-case data from the Justice Department show that in December 2008 the government reported 13,457 new prosecutions. This represents an increase of 14% from the previous month, but a significant 27% decrease from September’s high of 18,434 new filings. The immigration category continues to dominate the DOJ’s caseload, accounting for 59% of all new cases filed in December in U.S. Federal Court.

In addition to the most recent figures on prosecutions, TRAC continues to provide additional free reports on current enforcement trends. Go to

for information on December 2008 convictions and prosecutions in the areas of drugs, white collar crime, immigration, official corruption and more. You can also find free reports on the enforcement activities selected government agencies such as the IRS, FBI, DHS and DEA.
The December 2008 criminal data are also available to TRACFED subscribers via the Express, Going Deeper and Analyzer tools. Go to http://tracfed.syr.edufor more information. Customized reports for a specific agency, district, program, lead charge or judge are available via the TRAC Data Interpreter, either as part of a TRACFED subscription or on a per-report basis. Go to start.

TRAC is self-supporting and depends on foundation grants, individual contributions and subscription fees for the funding needed to obtain, analyze and publish the data we collect on the activities of the US Federal government. To help support TRAC’s ongoing efforts, go to:

David Burnham and Susan B. Long, co-directors
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Syracuse University
Suite 360, Newhouse II
Syracuse, NY  13244-2100

Data on Chinese Legal System and Law Schools

Steve Roses and Chang Wang of  Thomson Reuters recently offered a Webinar on the Chinese Legal System and their WestlawChina database. As part of their presentation, they reported the following information about China:

1986 = 989,409 civil cases

2007 = 5,333,546 civil cases


40,000 laws and regulations issued since 1978.


Over 800 international arbitral awards each year.


143,000 attorneys in 2008 (up from 40,000 in 1993)


Lawyers per population

China  1:8.500

U.S. 1:300


Over 630 law schools and law departments with 244,121 law students.


12% pass rate for the Chinese bar exam.


Unfortunately, they did not provide sources for the information, but it does paint an interesting picture of the legal system and legal education in China. Many thanks to Steve and Chang for sharing their expertise and data.



California Court of Appeal opinion publication up, slightly

A story in today’s San Francisco Recorder, “Appeal Courts Publishing More, Barely,” by Mike McKee, gauges the effects of a new court rule designed to encourage opinion publication by the California Court of Appeal and includes these statistics:

. . . Of 11,581 opinions filed by the state’s appellate districts between April 1, 2007, and March 31, 2008, only 1,151– 9.9 percent of the total — were ordered published, according to figures given to The Recorder by California’s reporter of decisions, who oversees the editing and publication of Supreme Court and appellate opinions in the state’s official reports.

By comparison, a year earlier, between April 1, 2006, and March 31, 2007, when the old rules were in play, only 999 — or 9 percent — of 11,067 rulings were published, according to the court’s records.
. . .

The biggest increase occurred in San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal, which, according to The Recorder’s count, went from 127 published opinions in 2006-07 to 162 a year later, for an increase of 27.5 percent.

Coding Complexity: Bringing Law to the Empirical Analysis of the Supreme Court

Coding Complexity: Bringing Law to the Empirical Analysis of the Supreme Court

2nd Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper
Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 60, 2009

CAROLYN SHAPIRO, Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago-Kent College of Law

In recent years, the legal academy has experienced a surge of interest in quantitative empirical analysis. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm has not always been accompanied by careful analysis of what the tools and resources of quantitative analysis can tell us about law and legal doctrine. As this Article demonstrates, the findings of some studies therefore unwittingly reflect the limitations of those tools and resources rather than providing insight into the workings of courts.

Specifically, this Article provides a long-overdue critical analysis of the most influential source of data about the Supreme Court, the Original Supreme Court Database, created by political scientist Harold J. Spaeth. The Database, which codes every opinion issued by the Supreme Court since 1953, contains coding for legal provisions considered by the court and for what Spaeth calls issue and issue area. Although numerous scholars – within both political science and law – rely on them, these codes do not report reliable information about the role that law and legal doctrine plays in the Supreme Court’s cases. The Database does not reliably report the legal provisions or doctrines relied upon or at issue; it does not attempt to report legal issues at all, instead describing the “public policy context” of the case; and by design, it generally reports only one issue per case. These limitations have important, but poorly understood, implications for the many, many scholars who rely on the Database, and the Article describes a number of specific studies whose results are unreliable because of the way they use the Database.

This critique of the Database and the ways scholars use it can help scholars to be smarter and more accurate in their use of the Database. At the same time, the Article explores ways to incorporate law and legal doctrine into empirical legal scholarship. To further both goals, the Article presents the results of my Recoding Project of a random sample of recent Supreme Court cases. The findings of the Recoding Project confirm that significant information about law and doctrine is omitted from the databases. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the databases systematically underreport law and doctrine related to courts in particular and to the structure and operations of government in general – issues that may be very salient to the justices in at least some cases. By demonstrating what information is missing or misstated in the Database and by exploring ways to develop more comprehensive and law-focused coding protocols, this Article helps positive scholars – whether political scientists or legal academics – to consider how to take account of law. The Article concludes by discussing implications for future research.

Source:  LSN Law & Positive Political Theory Vol. 4 No. 9,  06/10/2008