Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Michael P. Fix

Second Advisor

Robert Howard

Third Advisor

Amy Steigerwalt


Over time, the workload expectations of judges have changed significantly due to larger caseloads, more complex cases, jurisdictional changes, and an evolving body of precedent and statutes. In turn, these changes have had an impact on the quality and content of judicial opinions. Judges have had to strategically adopt a variety of tactics to assist in the writing process. This is especially true of judges serving on state supreme courts. Advancements in technology and short-cuts in the writing process have allowed judges to adapt new strategies for case management. My dissertation seeks to identify some of the mechanisms that state supreme court judges may be using to save time and better achieve their professional goals. Using original opinion content data from 1995-2005 for twelve state supreme courts, I examine citation rates, opinion length, and readability to determine to what extent time management tactics, professional qualities, and institutional design have on the content and quality of opinions.


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