Exploring the Relation Between the Indegree Centrality and Authority Score of a Decision and the Reason for Which It Was Cited: A Case Study

Terezie Smejkalová, Tereza Novotná


Some of the recent network citation analyses that in continental legal settings have suggested that the most cited decisions (in terms of network citation analysis those with the highest indegree, or authority score) tend to be related to procedural issues, or issues of a more general nature, capable of being referred to in a more varied situations. While it may seem intuitive that decisions with the highest indegree centrality or authority score would settle issues of a more general nature, hence making them more widely applicable to various kinds of subsequent cases, we were wondering, whether this trend would be noticeable in less exposed decisions. To this end, we have conducted a case study within the boundaries of the Czech legal system. We have chosen five decisions containing a chosen keyword based on their indegree centrality in a corpus of Czech apex courts’ decisions. Subsequently, we have constructed eleven strings of decisions (connected to one another by a citation) leading to these five decisions, again paying attention to their indegree. We theorize that the decisions with higher indegree centrality as well as decisions with higher authority score will be cited in situations seeking a case-law argument for either procedural issue, or an issue of a more general nature, or an issue of principle, while the decisions with low indegree centrality or low authority score will be cited for their substantive law merit. This paper seeks to demonstrate how the network analysis in combination with a qualitative approach may serve as a useful approach in further exploring this hypothesis. We show that the actual citation environment in Czech legal setting might be more complex than this hypothesis suggests, but that this methodological approach may be further useful in exploring the normative nature of judicial decisions in non-precedential legal settings.


judicial decision; centrality network analysis; citation analysis; normative nature of case law

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