Judicial Errors: Evidence from Refugee Appeals

108 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2018

Date Written: October 16, 2018


Judges with the same conviction rate might choose to convict different defendants, which violates an important standard of court quality. I show how judge disagreement can be nonparametrically bounded using information on defendant characteristics, or from other court decisions on the same cases. I implement the procedure for a Canadian refugee appeal court, and bound disagreement for the average pair of similarly-severe judges at 10% of all cases, higher than the amount of disagreement coming from cross-judge variation in leniency and large relative to the overall approval rate of only 14%. I aggregate judge-pair disagreement up into a judge-specific measure of decision quality I call consistency, and build a structural model to study the judge and institutional characteristics associated with it. Finally, I show how inconsistency implies failure of the monotonicity assumption in examiner-assignment IV designs, and adapt my bounding method into a test that is more powerful than current approaches.

Keywords: judge quality, judge fixed effect, examiner-assignment, IV monotonicity

JEL Classification: K1, K37, C26

Suggested Citation

Norris, Samuel, Judicial Errors: Evidence from Refugee Appeals (October 16, 2018). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2018-75. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3267611 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3267611

Samuel Norris (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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