The Economics of Judge and Jury Decision Making Open Access

Lundberg, Alexander Lars (2017)

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The courts have a powerful incentive to reach a correct decision in criminal trials because the social costs of both convicting the innocent and letting free the guilty are high. This dissertation derives two hypotheses of judge and jury decision making from economic theory. Both are tested empirically using federal trial data. Results are consistent with judges applying a higher burden of proof to more serious crimes. The other hypothesis, that judges will apply lower burdens of proof and lower sentences during periods of greater discretion, is partially supported by the data. Lastly, a final chapter examines a theory of group (or jury) interaction in decision making.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
1 Introduction
2 Compromise Verdicts

2.1 The Basic Model
2.1.1 Consequence of Verdict
2.1.2 Simple Threshold
2.2 Sentencing Discretion
2.3 Welfare and Discretion in Practice
2.3.1 Deterrence
2.3.2 Chilling
2.3.3 Trial Formats
2.4 Empirical Implications - Conviction Rate Puzzle
2.5 Conclusion
3 Theoretical Model Expanded
3.0.1 Assumptions
3.0.2 Burden of Proof|No Discretion
3.0.3 Burden of Proof|Sentencing Discretion
3.0.4 A Brief Note on the False Acquittal
3.0.5 Compromise Verdicts
4 Empirical Results
4.1 Estimation Strategy
4.1.1 Institutional Background
4.1.2 Severity of Crime
4.1.3 Compromise Verdicts
4.2 Results
4.2.1 Severity of Crime
4.2.2 Compromise verdicts
4.2.3 Robustness
4.3 Discussion
5 Deliberation in Committees
5.1 Related Literature
5.1.1 Models of Learning
5.1.2 Bayesian Cognition.
5.1.3 Committee Voting
5.2 The Basic Model
5.2.1 Interpretation of Evidence
5.3 Bayesian Updaters
5.3.1 Known
5.3.2 Unknown
5.4 Group Voting
5.5 Moving Average Updaters
5.6 Winning a Debate
5.7 Conclusion
A Proofs for Chapter 2
B Proofs for Chapter 3
C Proofs for Chapter 4
C.1 Propositions
C.2 Nash Equilibria in Strategic Game
D Additional Empirical Results
D.1 Jury Trials
D.2 Judicial Sentencing Guidelines
D.3 Sensitivity Analysis
D.4 Bench and Jury Selection
List of Figures
2.1 Federal Conviction Rates 1946-2010
4.1 Monthly Rates of Conviction and Guideline Departures in Bench Trials
5.1 Simultaneous vs. Sequential Updating
5.2 Stream of Evidence 7
5.3 Overcondence
A1 Proof of Claim 4
A2 Overlapping Events
A1 Black-Male Interaction Eects
A2 z-statistics of Interaction Eects
A3 Dependent Variable Distribution: Bench and Jury Trials
List of Tables
2.1 Fact Finder and Sentencing Authority
4.1 Severity of Filing Oense
4.2 Summary Statistics
4.3 Two-Part Model Results
5.1 Required Burdens of Proof for Strategic Equilibria
5.2 Order of Evidence
D.1 Probit - Federal Jury Trials
D.2 Two-Part Model Results
D.3 Discrete Marginal Eects - Severity Base 1
D.4 Discrete Marginal Eects - Severity Base 7
D.5 Probit - Bench Trial
D.6 Interaction Eects in a Linear Probability Model

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