National High Courts Database

The High Courts Judicial Database was created with the support of grants from the Law and Social Science Program of the National Science Foundation.  It is a public access database, freely available for use by any interested person.  The principal investigators note that all decisions regarding the structure and interpretation of the data used to create the HCJD are their own, and do not reflect the views or positions of the National Science Foundation

The High Courts Judicial Database (HCJD) provides coded information on the content of universes or random samples of the decisions produced by eleven of the top ("High" or "Supreme") courts of the world's judicial systems for extended periods of time.  The decisions included in the database are those formally reported in the reporters of record in each country. 

The High Courts Judicial Database consists of (1) a single All Nations Master File that includes all variables coded in common for all nations and (2) eleven individual country master files that include the common variables as well as variables that are specific to individual countries.  Most of the country specific variables record aspects of the voting and opinion behaviors of the individual justices who served on the country's top court during the period covered, but individual country master files sometimes contain additional variables recording country specific information.  
The countries, courts, and actual  years currently covered are:

Australia -- High Court 1969-2003;
Canada -- Supreme Court 1969-2003; 
India -- Supreme Court 1970-2000;
Namibia -- Supreme Court 1990-1998 (N = only 17);
Philippines -- Supreme Court 1970-2003; 
South Africa -- Supreme Court of Appeal 1970-2000 and Constitutional Court 1995-2000;
Tanzania -- Court of Appeal 1983-1998;
United Kingdom -- Judicial Committee of the House of Lords (Law Lords) 1970-2002;
United States -- Supreme Court 1953-2005;
Zambia -- Supreme Court 1973-1997;
Zimbabwe -- Supreme Court 1989-2000. 

Click here for the HCJD Codebook

The principal investigators request that those using these data fully and properly acknowledge their source.  The following would be an appropriate form for such an acknowledgement:

  • Stacia L. Haynie, Reginald S. Sheehan, Donald R. Songer, and C. Neal Tate.  2007.  High Courts Judicial Database.  Accessed at the University of South Carolina Judicial Research Initiative (

Finally, we note that the HCJD remains a work in progress.  We expect the datasets to be revised and reissued relatively regularly as we discover errors in the data or reconsider coding or data representation decisions that we have made.  Consequently, we caution users that the HCJD datasets are provided on an "as is" basis and we urge users to notify us of errors they discover and to contact us with their questions and suggestions for improvement.