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Queuing Up For Justice: Elections and Case Backlogs

Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay and Bryan McCannon

Discussion Papers from Department of Economics, University of Birmingham

Abstract: We analyze the impact of prosecutor elections on case backlogs. Previous evidence has shown that re-election pressures result in more cases going to trial. Since trials require time and resources, one can expect an effect on the queue. Two competing theories are developed: one of signalling quality in an asymmetric information environment and one of effort exertion, each of which can explain increased trials before election, but differ in their predfictions regarding the impact on backlogs. A district-level, panel data set of caseload flows in North Carolina is analyzed. Evidence is presented that contested re-elections are associated with a decrease in the number of cases handled and an acceleration of the growth of the backlog. This suggests that retention concerns lead to signaling which causes distortions, re-allocating resources from disposing cases to prosecuting cases at trial.

Keywords: case backlog; elections; prosecutor (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D82 K41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 35 pages
Date: 2014-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law and nep-pol
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