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Does Prosecutorial Experience ‘Balance Out’ a Judge’s Liberal Tendencies?

Justice System Journal, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 143-168, 2011

40 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 7 Sep 2011

Robert R. Robinson

Cal State Fullerton

Date Written: September 3, 2010

Abstract

One portion of the judicial behavioral literature has focused on how factors such as gender, race, or career experience may affect judicial decision-making. While most of this social background literature has produced disparate results, one group of studies has consistently found that for Supreme Court justices, prosecutorial experience correlates with a higher probability of conservative decisions in rights and liberties decisions. I revisit these findings by examining a broad sample of criminal procedure decisions decided by the Supreme Court between 1946 and 1995, as well as by the federal appellate courts between 1953 and 2002. Using non-parametric matching to reduce bias among potential covariates, I find no evidence of any relationship between prosecutorial experience and particular decision outcomes in either appellate or Supreme Court cases. This suggests that previous studies testing prosecutorial experience may be invalid, and that the common wisdom regarding the impact of such experience may be incorrect.

Keywords: Courts and Judges, Criminal Law & Procedure

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Robert R., Does Prosecutorial Experience ‘Balance Out’ a Judge’s Liberal Tendencies? (September 3, 2010). Justice System Journal, Vol. 32, No. 2, pp. 143-168, 2011. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1434212

Robert R. Robinson (Contact Author)

Cal State Fullerton ( email )

800 N State College St
Fullerton, CA 92831
United States

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