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Wednesday, April 26 • 10:55am - 11:15am
'Fatal Consequences?' The Effects Of Judicial Selection On Procedure Based Criminal Appeals

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This project builds on existing work in social science to better understand the effects of judicial selection mechanisms on the voting behavior of judges in the states’ highest courts. Specifically, this paper answers the following question: Does the judicial selection mechanism in state supreme criminal courts affect the punitiveness of the judges in criminal matters? This work posits that the variance in electoral pressure experienced by judges across selection methods result in a separate set of incentive structures for judges in elective and appointment systems. Judges in elective systems should vote more punitively than judges in appointment systems, in line with public perceptions of crime. The effect should be particularly prominent when comparing judges in nonpartisan elective systems with judges in partisan elective systems. These hypotheses were tested using two separate regression models on a selection of criminal appeals cases from the State Supreme Court Data Project, where allegations of trial error were caused by discretionary decisions by the trial judge. The results were inconclusive in both models; the findings suggest that state supreme court judges are unaffected by selection mechanism when considering criminal appeals based on trial error. This examination may have failed to account for cross-state variables that potentially biased the results. Additionally, the focus on criminal appeals based on discretionary trial judge decisions may have not been the best arena in which to explore the hypotheses.

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Wednesday April 26, 2017 10:55am - 11:15am
227 Zageir Hall

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