Judicial decision making: A dynamic reputation approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We seek to contribute to an understanding of how judicial elections affect the incentives and decisions of judges. We develop a theoretical model suggesting that judges who are concerned about their reputation will tend to decide against their prior decisions as they approach elections. That is, judges who imposed a large number of severe sentences in the past and are thus perceived to be strict will tend to impose less severe sentences prior to elections. Conversely, judges who imposed a large number of light sentences in the past and are thus perceived to be lenient will tend to impose more severe sentences prior to elections. Using data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, we test, and find evidence consistent with, the predictions of our model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S133-S159
JournalJournal of Legal Studies
Volume44
Issue numberS1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

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