Published Work

"A Look at the Bureaucratic Nature of the Office of the Solicitor General." Justict Systems Journal. (2015) In press.

The Office of the Solicitor General is structured as a bureaucracy in its own right as well as entrenched as part of the larger bureaucracy of the Department of Justice. Members of the Office of the Solicitor General have one of three designations: solicitor general, deputy solicitor general, or assistant to the solicitor general. The individuals who hold these titles experience different political and bureaucratic pressures. Taking into account this internal variation to the Office of the Solicitor General, I find that researchers have violated the assumption of unit homogeneity when grouping each of the types of attorneys together when analyzing the success of the institution before the Supreme Court. By disaggregating the different designations internal to the Office, I paint a clearer picture of the bureaucratic determinants of success for the attorneys before the Supreme Court.

"A Quantitative Analysis of Public Law Programs Revisited.” Law & Courts Newsletter (2009, 19:2) Data Available Here.

It is difficult to rank programs in public law. Foremost, public law as a sub-field is not defined by a single dominant methodology; programs which examine jurisprudence are markedly different from those which examine judicial behavior. Second, measuring a quality such as prestige is problematic, as reasonable individuals can easily disagree with regards to what makes a quality program. Third, the ranking of public law programs contains a temporal component, making it complicated to assign a ranking when only looking at a particular snapshot in time. Finally, any ranking based only on one criterion contains a possible bias towards over inclusion of some programs over others. To this end, the following study attempts to form a ranking of public law programs based on what I consider to be objective criteria and takes into account the changing nature of the discipline over time. See also, "Author's Response: Ranking the Journals." Law & Courts Newsletter (2009, 19:3).

“Judicial Legitimacy Overcomes the First Amendment: Kraham v. Lippman” Justice Systems Journal (2008, 29:2)

Are regulations meant to protect the public perception of judicial legitimacy justified even when they may restrict an individual’s First Amendment rights of political association?  That question was the core issue in Kraham v. Lippman 478 F.3d 502 (2nd Cir. 2007), a Federal Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit case stemming from a New York rule on appointment of fiduciaries wherein the Court held that the prohibition of party leaders and their law firms from receiving fiduciary appointments did not violate the First Amendment.  While the in Kraham Court never uses the term judicial legitimacy, its continued discussion of needing to improve the “public confidence in the judicial system” (at 506) clearly identifies this concept as the key issue in this case. In answering the question above, the Court in Kraham chose to side with judicial legitimacy at the expense of the First Amendment.

Working Papers

"Does Risk Vary? Examining the Tenure of State Supreme Court justices." (With Mark Hurwitz)

At the core of the debate on how judges should be selected is the issue whether the judiciary should be accountable or independent. Among the various selection systems in the states, including partisan elections, non-partisan elections, gubernatorial and legislative appointment, and the so-called Missouri Plan, do any of these methods of selection provide for greater or lesser levels of accountability? It is important to answer this question with empirical evidence, so that policy makers can accurately choose the selection system that best addresses their goal of either accountability or independence.The results of our hazard models show that justices in partisan election states have the shortest tenures and are at the greatest risk of departing the bench, as this selection method is the most accountable of these intuitions. By contrast, the Missouri Plan (also called the merit system) is least accountable, even less so than appointive systems, as the retention elections employed by this selection system provide no legitimate threat to justices’ tenure on the bench. Our findings thus demonstrate that accountability varies across the judicial selection systems in the states and does so in a predictable fashion.

"Institutions as Insulators: Representational Drift on State Supreme Courts." (With Michael K. Romano)

The variation in methods of selection used to populate the State Courts of Last Resort have led both amateur and academic institutional designers to ruminate on the effectiveness of methods of selection to produce representative agents. Many groups have rallied around one system or another with the goal of either balancing or maximizing one of these two competing values. This debate has led researchers to question whether judicial ideology is effectively leashed by the preferences of citizens, and what methods of selection better control judicial ideology in order to make a representative institution. We examine the fifty-two State Courts of Last Resort, and focus on how different selection methods impact the amount of “representative drift” between judicial and citizen ideologies. We conclude that selection methods which lack explicit and frequent checks on judicial representation through elections insulate their Courts from an ideological connection with the public.

Contact Info.

I can be reached at (915)747-7967.

I can also be reached via e-mail: tacurry at