How Important Are the Unwritten Customs and Norms of an Appellate Court?

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Judicial Studies (LL.M.)


Duke University School of Law


Appellate court judges make decisions collectively and not individually, a process which is presumed to improve the quality of decisions. The judges’ interactions with each other are structured within their courts by sets of formal rules and informal norms of behavior. These rules and norms are not the same in every court, and may be difficult to examine from outside the court. From my examination of the rules and norms of the intermediate appellate court on which I sit, I believe that certain rules and norms can reduce some costs of disagreement and increase the benefits of the collective judicial decision-making process on that court.


Originally submitted as a theses in fulfillment of the requirements of the Master of Judicial Studies (LL.M.) degree. Then subsequently revised as a law review article in Law and Contemporary Problems with a different title of: Communicating Disagreement Behind the Bench: The Importance of Rules and Norms of an Appellate Court.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Judicial process, Appellate courts, Judicial opinions, Court decisions and opinions