Does Judge Turnover Affect Judicial Performance? Evidence from Italian Court Records
Justice System Journal, 38(1), 52-77, 2016
Posted: 28 May 2015 Last revised: 4 Mar 2018
Date Written: 2016
Italy is among the countries with the highest litigation rate and those with the highest duration of trials. This paper shows that judge turnover contributes negatively to delays in Italian courts and outlines possible policies for improvement. In Italy, judges can voluntarily move from one office to another after three years of mandate, and the law prescribes their transfer after ten years to guarantee their independence. Flaws in the process managing the backlog of outbound judges and the existence of asynchrony between outbound and inbound transfers produce a chain of delays to the disposition of court cases. Using a novel dataset on Court of Appeal Districts in Italy (2008-2012), we provide evidence of a strong negative relation between high turnover rates and judicial performance. We find that marginal increases in judge turnover rates lead to a statistically significant decrease in judicial performance over two years of time.
Keywords: judges, turnover, court administration, caseflow management, performance, judicial system
JEL Classification: J0, K0, M5
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation