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Are Judges Overpaid?: A Skeptical Response to the Judicial Salary Debate


Stephen J. Choi


New York University School of Law

G. Mitu Gulati


Duke University - School of Law

Eric A. Posner


University of Chicago - Law School

December 2007

U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 376
Duke Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 178

Abstract:     
Nearly everyone thinks that judges are underpaid, but theory and evidence provide little support for this view. Theory suggests that increasing judicial salaries will improve judicial performance only if judges can be sanctioned for performing inadequately or if the appointments process reliably screens out low-ability candidates. However, federal judges and many state judges cannot be sanctioned, and the reliability of screening processes is open to question. An empirical study of the high court judges of the 50 states provides little evidence that raising salaries would improve judicial performance. The case for a pay raise has not been made.

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Date posted: December 21, 2007 ; Last revised: March 19, 2009

Suggested Citation

Choi, Stephen J. and Gulati, G. Mitu and Posner, Eric A., Are Judges Overpaid?: A Skeptical Response to the Judicial Salary Debate (December 2007). U of Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 376; Duke Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 178. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1077295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1077295

Contact Information

Stephen J. Choi (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
Gaurang Mitu Gulati
Duke University - School of Law ( email )
210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
Eric A. Posner
University of Chicago - Law School ( email )
1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
773-702-0425 (Phone)
773-702-0730 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.uchicago.edu/faculty/posner-e/
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