Let My People Go: Ethnic In-Group Bias in Judicial Decisions - Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment

26 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2010

See all articles by Oren Gazal-Ayal

Oren Gazal-Ayal

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law

Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Political Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

Does ethnic identity affect judicial decisions? We provide new evidence on ethnic biases in judicial behavior by examining the decisions of Arab and Jewish judges in first bail hearings of Arab and Jewish suspects in Israeli courts. Our setting avoids the potential bias from unobservable case characteristics by exploiting the random assignment of judges to cases during weekends and by focusing on the difference in ethnic disparity between Arab and Jewish judges. The study concentrates on the early-stage decisions in the judicial criminal process, controlling for the state's position and excluding agreements, thereby allowing us to distinguish judicial bias from other sources of ethnic disparities. We find systematic evidence of in-group (same ethnic group) bias in detention decisions. However, in cases where the decision is to detain, no ethnic bias was found in the length of the detention. Possible interpretations and implications of these findings are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Gazal-Ayal, Oren and Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Raanan, Let My People Go: Ethnic In-Group Bias in Judicial Decisions - Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 7, Issue 3, pp. 403-428, September 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1647240 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-1461.2010.01183.x

Oren Gazal-Ayal (Contact Author)

University of Haifa - Faculty of Law ( email )

Mount Carmel
Haifa, 31905
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://weblaw.haifa.ac.il/en/Faculty/GazalAyal/Pages/default.aspx

Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Political Science

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem 91905, Jerusalem 91905
Israel

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
5
Abstract Views
658
PlumX Metrics