Political Science Reading Group: "Predicting judicial decisions of the European Court of Human Rights: a Natural Language Processing perspective"
Discussion of the article written by: Aletras, N., Tsarapatsanis, D., Preoţiuc-Pietro, D., & Lampos, V. (2016) in PeerJ Computer Science, 2.
"Recent advances in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning provide us with the tools to build predictive models that can be used to unveil patterns driving judicial
decisions. This can be useful, for both lawyers and judges, as an assisting tool to rapidly identify cases and extract patterns which lead to certain decisions. This paper presents
the first systematic study on predicting the outcome of cases tried by the European Court of Human Rights based solely on textual content. We formulate a binary classification
task where the input of our classifiers is the textual content extracted from a case and the target output is the actual judgment as to whether there has been a violation of an article of the convention of human rights. Textual information is represented using contiguous word sequences, i.e., N-grams, and topics. Our models can predict the court's decisions with a strong accuracy (79% on average). Our empirical analysis indicates that the formal facts of a case are the most important predictive factor. This is consistent with the theory of legal realism suggesting that judicial decision-making is significantly affected by the stimulus of the facts. We also observe that the topical content of a case is another important feature in this classification task and explore this relationship further by conducting a qualitative analysis."
The political science reading group meets on a regular basis to discuss recent publications or working papers on international courts and tribunals. The aim is to develop our understanding of the publication/paper and how it might be relevant for our own projects, through a discussion of its theoretical, empirical and methodological merits and weaknesses. The reading group managed by PluriCourts, but open to everyone that is interested.