Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Coco Xu

Judicial Opinions from U.S. Court of Appeals on Issues Affecting Access to the Civil Justice System

This summer, I will continue to work on this research project which studies issues affecting access to the civil justice system by reading judicial opinions from U.S. Court of Appeals. These issues include class certification, damages, standing, sufficiency of pleadings and attorney’s fees. Judges from federal appellate courts have great discretion in deciding these issues and setting precedents for lower courts to follow. Their decisions on certain issues — including what groups of individuals can bring on lawsuits as a class, how much punitive damage can be granted to a certain case, and how specific a plaintiff’s allegations must be to pass pleadings stage — can greatly encourage or discourage people to bring forth legal complaints. By reading opinions and applying a coding protocol that specifies the presiding judges, nature of the legal issues presented, characteristics of the parties, and case outcomes, we hope to gather data that can give us insights on how people’s access to the civil justice system have been affected by federal appellate court judges.

Message To Sponsor

Working on this project for the past year has been an incredible experience of my college career, as it has allowed me to learn about law and legal culture in a way that my normal curriculum cannot. It has not only sharpened my skills of legal reasoning but also affirmed my passion in law. Moreover, reading appellate court opinions on a wide variety of cases has opened my eyes to and acquainted me with the myriad of policy issues we face in our lives. I thank Professor Farhang for believing in my abilities and giving me invaluable guidance. I am also incredibly grateful for the donors who allowed me to dive even further into a project that I am passionate about this summer. I will leverage everything I’ve learned through this experience as I pursue further education and a career in law after college.
Profile image of Coco Xu
Major: Legal Studies & Media Studies
Mentor: Professor Sean Farhang
Sponsor: Cheunkarndee Fund
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