Judicial Errors, Crime Deterrence and Appeals: Evidence from U.S. Federal Courts

60 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2016 Last revised: 5 Dec 2018

See all articles by Roee Sarel

Roee Sarel

Institute of Law and Economics, University of Hamburg

Date Written: December 4, 2018

Abstract

This paper investigates how different outcomes of criminal appeals impact crime deterrence. My panel data analysis (1997-2013) indicates that crime rates decrease when convictions are affirmed by the appellate court, as long as conviction rates are not too high. Crime rates are further found to decrease when convictions are reversed but increase when cases are remanded back to the district courts. The findings imply that judicial errors are detrimental to deterrence, while their review on appeal is Janus-headed: reversals provide remedy whereas remands are counter-productive. I therefore offer ways to overcome the negative effects of remands, conditional on potential problem sources: uncorrected errors, discounting of sanctions and cost asymmetry between guilty and innocent defendants..

Keywords: Judicial errors, Adjudication errors, Crime rates, Crime deterrence, Appeals, Courts, Wrongful Convictions

JEL Classification: K4, C33, C36

Suggested Citation

Sarel, Roee, Judicial Errors, Crime Deterrence and Appeals: Evidence from U.S. Federal Courts (December 4, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2739674 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2739674

Roee Sarel (Contact Author)

Institute of Law and Economics, University of Hamburg ( email )

Johnsallee 35
Hamburg, 20148
Germany

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