Quantifying the Impact of the Revolving Door: Evidence from South Korea's Judiciary
60 Pages Posted: 31 May 2015 Last revised: 24 Jun 2015
Date Written: May 29, 2015
This paper quantifies the impact of judicial connections on criminal sentences. Using a unique data set of 318 high-profile Korean white-collar criminals, I investigate how often the judiciary favors newly retired senior judge attorneys (Revolving Door Attorneys, RDAs) by giving their clients leniency (e.g., suspended jail terms). To distinguish connections from skills of RDAs, I exploit the length of retirement of former senior judge counsels as a source of exogenous variation in connections. Particularly, I hypothesize that preferential treatment granted to the counsels substantially decays after one year of their retirement. I find that judicial connections have a sizable impact on sentences: convicted white-collar offenders defended by RDAs are more likely (by around 15 percentage points) to receive suspended jail terms than those represented by ordinary attorneys. I also find that the impact is discontinuous after the first year of departure from the judiciary: Lastly, I find that observed leniency disappears when cases become subject to media attention. These findings suggest causal linkage between judicial connections and leniency in sentencing.
Keywords: Connections, Revolving Door Problem, White-Collar Crimes, Institutional Corruption
JEL Classification: K42, P48, D72, K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation