Theses Doctoral

Selected Legal Applications for Bayesian Methods

Cheng, Edward K.

This dissertation offers three contexts in which Bayesian methods can address tricky problems in the legal system. Chapter 1 offers a method for attacking case publication bias, the possibility that certain legal outcomes may be more likely to be published or observed than others. It builds on ideas from multiple systems estimation (MSE), a technique traditionally used for estimating hidden populations, to detect and correct case publication bias. Chapter 2 proposes new methods for dividing attorneys' fees in complex litigation involving multiple firms. It investigates optimization and statistical approaches that use peer reports of each firm's relative contribution to estimate a "fair" or consensus division of the fees. The methods proposed have lower informational requirements than previous work and appear to be robust to collusive behavior by the firms. Chapter 3 introduces a statistical method for classifying legal cases by doctrinal area or subject matter. It proposes using a latent space approach based on case citations as an alternative to the traditional manual coding of cases, reducing subjectivity, arbitrariness, and confirmation bias in the classification process.


  • thumnail for Cheng_columbia_0054D_14793.pdf Cheng_columbia_0054D_14793.pdf application/pdf 993 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Madigan, David B.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2018