Alschner and St-Hilaire on Using Network Citation Analysis to Reveal Precedential Archetypes at the Supreme Court of Canada @w_alschner @uocommonlaw
Wolfgang Alschner, University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, and Isabelle St-Hilaire, University of Oxford, on Using Network Citation Analysis to Reveal Precedential Archetypes at the Supreme Court of Canada. Here is the abstract.
The chapter applies network analysis and natural language processing to identify precedential archetypes based on 9295 cross-citations between Supreme Court of Canada constitutional cases since 1983. Citation analyses of apex courts have a long history. However, researchers can gain more sophisticated insights from these citations by combining network analysis with natural language processing tools. This chapter first discusses existing citation analyses of the Supreme Court of Canada centred around simple citation counts and contrasts them with a legal data analytics approach. It then uses the latter, new perspective to create four precedential archetypes which represent different trajectories or lifecycles of Surpreme Court precedents: (1) the “eternal star” that is cited consistently and widely; (2) the “central focal point” whose treatment of a cross- cutting issue projects it to the very centre of the case law network; (3) the “niche anchor” that exhibits consistent relevance in a narrower or more peripheral area of law; and (4) the “displaced pioneer” that is overtaken, but not overruled, by subsequent jurisprudence. The chapter demonstrates that network analysis combined with natural language processing can quantitatively trace the rise and fall of precedent in ways that are normatively more aligned with how legal scholars think about precedent.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.