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Public Opinion on the Courts in the United States, 2000 (ICPSR 3864) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study centered on two questions fundamental to understanding public opinion about the courts: (1) Do African Americans, Latinos, and Whites view the state courts differently? and (2) What impact did recent direct court experience have on people's opinions about state courts? Between March 22, 2000, and May 3, 2000, interviewers conducted 1,567 telephone interviews with randomly selected United States residents. Variables include respondents' gender, race, age, education, and other demographic information, respondents' perception of the fairness of local courts, including whether African Americans and Latinos were discriminated against, whether the respondent or a member of the respondent's household had been involved with the courts in the past 12 months, and if so, how fairly that case was conducted.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

Study Description

Citation

Rottman, David B., Randall Hansen, Nicole Mott, and Lynn Grimes. PUBLIC OPINION ON THE COURTS IN THE UNITED STATES, 2000. ICPSR03864-v2. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts [producer], 2003. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-12-15. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03864.v2

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (1999-IJ-CX-0021)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   African Americans, court system, courts, ethnicity, Hispanic or Latino Americans, media influence, perceptions, public opinion, racial discrimination, state courts, White Americans

Smallest Geographic Unit:   ZIP code

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 2000-03-22--2000-05-03

Date of Collection:  

  • 2000-03-22--2000-05-03

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   Adult residents of the United States between March 22, 2000, and May 3, 2000.

Data Types:   survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study centered on two questions fundamental to understanding public opinion about the courts: (1) Do African Americans, Latinos, and Whites view the state courts differently? and (2) What impact did recent direct court experience have on people's opinions about state courts? The distinctive contribution of this study was its exploration at a national level of the intersection of race and court experience with regard to perceptions of courts. Previous studies examined this intersection only in cities and states. This study also sought to answer several related questions: (1) Do Latinos have distinct views on state courts, or are their views closely tied to the views of Whites or African Americans? (2) Do individuals with recent court experience differ from those with more distant experience in the antecedents and nature of their views? (3) Does the type of experience (as jurors, litigants, or witnesses) affect racial groups differently, and does the presumed positive influence of jury service extend to African Americans and Latinos? (4) What level of support is there for courts playing nontraditional roles in cases involving complex emotional and social problems, like substance abuse and mental illness, and what does this level of support say about views of the courts as they currently stand? (5) How much does the media influence views of the courts relative to the influence of direct experience with courts? (6) What factors make people willing to return to courts in the future, and do these factors work in a similar way across racial and ethnic groups?

Study Design:   Between March 22, 2000, and May 3, 2000, interviewers conducted 1,567 telephone interviews with randomly selected United States residents. The project staff at the National Center for State Courts designed the survey instrument and revised it based on a review by the advisory committee members and staff from the Indiana University Public Opinion Laboratory (IUPOL). Pretests were used to refine the survey instrument. The final instrument contained two sets of questions. The first set of questions was directed at all respondents. The second set of questions was directed only at those respondents with court experience in the last 12 months. A translator under contract to the IUPOL prepared a Spanish version of the survey instrument. The translation was reviewed and revised by two certified Spanish court interpreters. The interviews were conducted by professional interviewers at the IUPOL from special facilities on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus. All interviewers received at least four hours of general training in addition to specific training for this project. Most of the interviewers had previous experience in other survey research projects. Selected phone numbers were called until an interview was successfully conducted or: (1) the respondent refused to participate on three separate occasions, (2) a disconnected or not-in-service number was encountered, or (3) attempts to call the number yielded a no answer, busy signal, or answering machine on 20 separate occasions.

Sample:   The sample was a national, random-digit-dialing sample with quotas based on the Troldahl-Carter-Bryant method of respondent selection (Troldahl and Carter [1964], and Bryant [1975], reprinted in Lavrakas [1987]). In addition to a target sample of 1,005 randomly selected respondents, the sample included supplemental oversamples of 308 African Americans and 254 Latinos. This sampling strategy sought to correct for the tendency of telephone surveys to underrepresent minority groups. Among all ethnic groups, approximately half of the participants were to be chosen based on recent (within the past 12 months) court experience. This was difficult to achieve. Latinos who had recent court experience and who were willing to be interviewed were difficult to locate. The cost per interview reached a point at which it was necessary to stop the data collection process for that subgroup. As a result, 40 percent rather than the desired 50 percent of Latinos in the sample had had a recent court experience. In general, the number of African Americans and Latinos in the sample with recent court experience is small.

Data Source:

telephone interviews

Description of Variables:   Demographic variables include respondent gender, age, race, education, country of birth, part of Latin America to which ancestry was traced, age when moved to the continental United States, language most spoken in the household, marital status, number of people in the household, combined household income the year before, and state of residence. Other variables include respondents' assessments of how well local courts handle criminal, civil, family relations, and juvenile delinquency cases, respondents' ratings of local courts, police, and schools, rating of fairness of local courts, assessments of how equally courts treat African Americans, Latinos, non-English speakers, and people with low incomes, whether courts should intervene in cases in nontraditional ways to try to solve the problems that bring people into court, perceptions about opportunity and racial discrimination in the United States, whether the respondent or a member of the respondent's household had been involved with the courts in the past 12 months, role in case, kind of case, assessments of how fairly the case was conducted and how fairly the respondent or household member was treated, and factors that influenced the respondents' impressions of how the courts in their community worked.

Response Rates:   The target sample of 1,005 was achieved after 53,933 total dialings. The African American oversample of 308 was completed after 22,140 total dialings. The Latino oversample of 254 was completed after 33,034 total dialings.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-12-15 A restricted version of the data is now available.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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