Legal Techniques for Rationalizing Biased Judicial Decisions: Evidence from Experiments with Real Judges

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming

44 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2019

See all articles by John Zhuang Liu

John Zhuang Liu

The University of Hong Kong - University of Hong Kong; The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen

Xueyao Li

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 23, 2019

Abstract

Judges rarely reveal their real reasoning in their opinions when they are influenced by factors that they know they should not consider. The natural next question is how, when a judge is improperly influenced, he or she reasons to justify a biased decision. In a set of experiments on incumbent Chinese judges, we first replicated the findings of previous studies that showed judges can be influenced by extra-legal factors. More importantly, we showed that judges may employ a range of legal techniques to rationalize decision biases: they interpret legal standards and legal concepts strategically, finesse the applicability of law, infer or deny causation and foreseeability, and draw different conclusions from facts. Our findings provide a more realistic understanding of how judges behave, and cast doubt on reasoned elaboration as a guarantee of judicial transparency and trustworthiness.

Suggested Citation

Liu, John Zhuang and Li, Xueyao, Legal Techniques for Rationalizing Biased Judicial Decisions: Evidence from Experiments with Real Judges (July 23, 2019). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3424633

John Zhuang Liu (Contact Author)

The University of Hong Kong - University of Hong Kong ( email )

Pokfulam Road
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
China

The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen ( email )

Xueyao Li

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) ( email )

China

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