Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Forensic and Investigative Science

Committee Chair

Jason Manning

Committee Co-Chair

James Nolan

Committee Member

Jason Manning

Committee Member

James Nolan

Committee Member

Jesse Wozniak


This research centers on the question of 'Who wins?' in criminal and civil cases heard by West Virginia's Supreme Court of Appeals. The study examines litigant characteristics and whether court winners are favored by virtue of their higher organizational levels, such as being business or government affiliates. The study is a partial small-scale replication of the prior research by Songer and Sheehan (1992) who determined that litigation resources that resulted from higher organizational levels predicated higher win rates in the United States Courts of Appeals. I utilized an array of cross-tabulations of success and litigant organization for a two-year sample of appeals ( N=434) and also compared winning with a measure of organizational superiority. Results garnered support for the theoretical proposition of Donald Black (1976), which states that law will react more harshly toward less organization, and more favorably toward more organization. Study findings suggest that higher organizational levels did realize greater success for litigants in West Virginia's appellate courts for the 2011-2012 term. The study also utilized a more detailed and complex approximation of litigant organizational levels that may be useful in further research exploring the relationship of organization with court success.