Judicial Decision Making: A Dynamic Reputation Approach

Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 44, No. S1, pp.133-159 (2014)

Harvard Law School John M. Olin Center Discussion Paper No. 803

26 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2015 Last revised: 25 May 2017

See all articles by Alma Cohen

Alma Cohen

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics; Harvard Law School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Alon Klement

Buchman Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Zvika Neeman

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics; Boston University - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 1, 2015

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 would tend to "decide against their prior" 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, would tend to impose less severe sentences prior to elections, and judges who imposed a large number of light sentences in the past, and are perceived to be lenient, would tend to impose more severe sentences prior to elections. Using data from the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing (PCS), we test, and find evidence consistent with, the predictions of our model.

JEL Classification: D82, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Alma and Klement, Alon and Neeman, Zvika, Judicial Decision Making: A Dynamic Reputation Approach (January 1, 2015). Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 44, No. S1, pp.133-159 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2559211

Alma Cohen (Contact Author)

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel

Harvard Law School ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
(617) 496-4099 (Phone)
(617) 812-0554 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Alon Klement

Buchman Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University ( email )

Tel Aviv
Israel

Zvika Neeman

Tel Aviv University - Eitan Berglas School of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 39040
Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv, 69978
Israel

HOME PAGE: http://www.tau.ac.il/~zvika/

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-3184 (Phone)
617-353-4449 (Fax)

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