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Electoral Sentencing Cycles

David Abrams, Roberto Galbiati (), Emeric Henry and Arnaud Philippe
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David Abrams: University of Pennsylvania
Roberto Galbiati: ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Arnaud Philippe: University of Bristol [Bristol]

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Abstract: We add to our understanding of the optimal method of judicial selection by exploiting an unusual feature in North Carolina: judges rotate location every six months. This allows us to identify the existence and source of sentencing variation over the electoral cycle. We show that when elections approach, felony sentences rise. This increase is found exclusively when judges are sentencing in their district of election, and only when elections are contested. When judges hear cases outside their home district, sentences do not significantly vary over the electoral cycle. Our results show that electoral sentencing cycles can be explained by strategic sentencing by judges in an attempt to please voters. The unique setting allows us to reject alternative behavioral or contextual explanations for the rise in sentences as elections approach. (JEL K42)

Date: 2023-07
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-law and nep-pol
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Published in Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2023, 39 (2), pp.350-370. ⟨10.1093/jleo/ewab037⟩

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Journal Article: Electoral Sentencing Cycles (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: Electoral Sentencing Cycles (2023) Downloads
Working Paper: Electoral Sentencing Cycles (2019) Downloads
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DOI: 10.1093/jleo/ewab037

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