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Judicial Error by Groups and Individuals

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  • Frans van Dijk

    (Netherlands Council for the judiciary)

  • Joep H. Sonnemans

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Ed Bauw

    (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands Council for the judiciary)

Abstract

In criminal cases judges evaluate and combine probabilistic evidence to reach verdicts. Unavoidably, errors are made, resulting in unwarranted conviction or acquittal of defendants. This paper addresses the questions (1) whether hearing cases by teams of three persons leads to less error than hearing cases alone; (2) whether deliberation leads to better decisions than mechanical aggregation of individual opinions; and (3) whether participating in deliberations improves future individual decisions. We find that having more than one judge consider cases reduces error effectively. This does not mean that it is necessary to deliberate about all cases. In simple cases many errors can be avoided by mechanical aggregation of independent opinions, and deliberation has no added value. In difficult cases discussion leads to less error. The advantage of deliberation goes beyond the case at hand: although we provide no feedback about the quality of verdicts, it improves individual decisions in subsequent cases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 12-029/3.

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Date of creation: 27 Mar 2012
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20120029

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

Related research

Keywords: judicial decision making; experiment; law and economics;

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  1. Marco Casari & Jingjing Zhang & Christine Jackson, 2010. "When do groups perform better than individuals? A company takeover experiment," IEW - Working Papers, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich 504, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich, revised Apr 2012.
  2. Martin G. Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2005. "The Decision Maker Matters: Individual Versus Group Behaviour in Experimental Beauty-Contest Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 200-223, 01.
  3. Charness, Gary B & Karni, Edi, 2007. "Individual and Group Decision Making Under Risk: An Experimental Study of Bayesian Updating and Violations of First-order Stochastic Dominance," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4gr7j8z8, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Blinder, Alan S & Morgan, John, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better than One? Monetary Policy by Committee," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 789-811, October.
  5. Cooper, David J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2011. "Role Selection and Team Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 5892, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
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