Are Judges Like Umpires? Political Affiliation and Corporate Prosecutions

60 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2020 Last revised: 7 Jul 2020

See all articles by Todd A. Gormley

Todd A. Gormley

Washington University in St. Louis; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Mahsa Kaviani

University of Delaware

Hosein Maleki

Florida State University - College of Business

Date Written: July 6, 2020

Abstract

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

Gormley, Todd A. and Kaviani, Mahsa and Maleki, Hosein, Are Judges Like Umpires? Political Affiliation and Corporate Prosecutions (July 6, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3513177 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3513177

Todd A. Gormley (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
(314) 935-7171 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.gormley.info

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Mahsa Kaviani

University of Delaware ( email )

20 Orchard Rd, Newark, DE
Newark, DE 19716
United States

Hosein Maleki

Florida State University - College of Business ( email )

423 Rovetta Business Building
Tallahassee, FL 32306-1110
United States

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