John Szmer

John Szmer


Professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administratio

Professor, Public Policy Doctoral Program


Ph.D., University of South Carolina, 2005

Research Interest:

His research examines the U.S. Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals, U.S. state courts of last resort, and the Supreme Court of Canada. Generally, he has focused on two central questions: the role that information plays in judicial decision making and the effects of diversity on the judicial process. Within these frameworks, he has explored a variety of topics, including party capability, attorney expertise and gender, judge gender and race, judicial efficiency, judicial selection, majority opinion assignment, and judicial dissensus. He has published more than a dozen articles in a variety of journals, including Political Research Quarterly, Law & Society Review, American Politics Research, Politics & Gender, Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, Social Science Quarterly, and the Marquette Law Review.

Dr. Szmer’s UVA Press book, coauthored with Jennifer Barnes Bowie and Donald Songer, The View from the Bench and Chambers: Examining Judicial Process and Decision Making on the U.S. Courts of Appeals examines the U.S. Courts of appeals using a mixed methods approach, combining more than sixty interviews with appellate judges and clerks with a variety of statistical analyses.

Presently, he is a co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation research grant, “Collaborative Research: Judicial Diversity and Appellate Decision Making”, examining the impact of the Obama appointees to the U.S. Courts of Appeals, focusing primarily on the influence of gender diversity. He is also currently working on a co-authored book manuscript, Courting Diversity: How Race & Gender Matter from Bar to Bench (under contract with Cambridge University Press). The study explores how institutional structures and rules condition the effects of race and gender diversity on the judicial process.

In addition to his research, Dr. Szmer teaches a variety of courses at UNC Charlotte, including judicial process, judicial politics, constitutional law, gender and the law, quantitative methods (for undergraduates and Ph.D. students), and the introduction to American politics. He is also the UNC Charlotte Mock Trial team advisor, as well as an Honors Faculty member, core faculty member in the UNC Charlotte Public Policy Ph.D. program, and a Women’s and Gender Studies affiliate faculty member.

Recent and/or Relevant Publications

Christensen, Robert K., John Szmer, and Justin Stritch. Forthcoming. “Race and Gender Bias in Three Administrative Contexts: Impact on Work Assignments in State Supreme Courts.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

Christensen, Robert K. and John Szmer. 2012. “Examining the Efficiency of the U.S. Courts of Appeals: Pathologies and Prescriptions.” International Review of Law and Economics 32(1): 30-37.

Szmer, John, Erin B. Kaheny and Tammy A. Sarver. 2010. “Have We Come a Long Way, Baby?: The Influence of Attorney Gender on Supreme Court Decision Making.” Politics and Gender 6(1): 1-36.

Szmer, John, Susan W. Johnson, and Tammy A. Sarver. 2007. “Does the Lawyer Matter? Influencing Outcomes on the Supreme Court of Canada.” Law and Society Review 42(2):279-304.

Szmer, John and Donald R. Songer. 2005. “The Effects of Information on the Accuracy of Presidential Assessments of Supreme Court Nominee Preferences.” Political Research Quarterly 58(1): 151-160.

Areas of Research and Teaching Expertise

Justice Policy Methods and Analysis Faculty Website