Objective. This article investigates the existence of a freshman effect on separate opinion authorship on the U.S. Courts of Appeals. First, we evaluate the extent to which freshman judges demonstrate unique behavior with respect to writing concurring and dissenting opinions. Second, we examine the potential for background factors to condition any freshman effect.
Methods. Individual judges' decisions to author separate opinions, drawn from the Courts of Appeals Database (1960 to 1988), are modeled as a function of a host of individual- and circuit-level factors, including the freshman status of the judge.
Results. After controlling for alternative explanations, we find that freshman judges on the courts of appeals are less likely to author concurring and dissenting opinions. Prior federal or appellate court experience, however, does not appear to condition the freshman effect.
Conclusion. Freshman circuit court judges experience significant acclimation effects following their elevation to the federal appellate bench.