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General Issue

What Do Trial Judges Cite? Evidence from the New South Wales District Court

Author

Russell Smyth

This article examines the citation practice of the New South Wales District Court, using all decisions reported on AustLII/Caselaw NSW decided between 2005 and 2016. This study is the first to examine the citation practice of an ‘inferior’ trial court. The study suggests some important differences between the citation practice of the New South Wales District Court and what existing studies have found about the citation practice of superior courts in Australia. The proportion of citations to decisions of the High Court and New South Wales Court of Appeal is higher than in the superior courts. The proportion of citations to the Court’s own previous decisions are lower than in the superior courts. The proportion of coordinate citations to courts in other states at the same level in the judicial hierarchy are extremely small. The Court cites fewer secondary sources than is the case in the appellate courts.

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