Are Judges Like Umpires? Political Affiliation and Corporate Prosecutions
60 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020 Last revised: 7 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 6, 2020
Exploiting the random assignment of cases to judges, we document that judges appointed by a Democrat president impose larger fines for corporate crimes involving environmental and labor regulations while Republican-appointed judges impose larger fines for crimes involving the hiring of illegal immigrants. These differences, which are robust to controlling for other judicial characteristics (e.g., age, race, and gender), do not appear to reflect fixed ideological differences as they become amplified during periods of greater political partisanship. The observed differences also become larger when judicial vacancies exist on a higher court, suggesting judicial career-motives might partly drive these findings. There is no evidence, however, that judges’ political affiliations are associated with decisions on guilt.
Keywords: corporate crime, judges, politics, bias
JEL Classification: G38, K14, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation