When in Rome... on Local Norms and Sentencing Decisions

47 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2019

See all articles by David Abrams

David Abrams

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Roberto Galbiati

Sciences Po

Emeric Henry

Sciences Po

Arnaud Philippe

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)

Date Written: March 12, 2019

Abstract

In this paper, we show that sentencing norms vary widely even across geographically close units. By examining North Carolina's unique judicial rotation system, we show that judges arriving in a new court gradually converge to local sentencing norms. We document factors that facilitate this convergence and show that sentencing norms are predicted by preferences of the local constituents. We build on these empirical results to analyze theoretically the delegation trade-off faced by a social planner: the judge can learn the local norm, but only at the cost of potential capture.

Keywords: sentencing norms, adaptation

JEL Classification: D7, K4

Suggested Citation

Abrams, David S. and Galbiati, Roberto and Henry, Emeric and Philippe, Arnaud, When in Rome... on Local Norms and Sentencing Decisions (March 12, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3357122 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3357122

David S. Abrams

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Roberto Galbiati

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

Emeric Henry (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

Arnaud Philippe

University of Toulouse 1 - Toulouse School of Economics (TSE) ( email )

Place Anatole-France
Toulouse Cedex, F-31042
France

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