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Socially Optimal Criminal Court Waiting Times: A Partial Investigation

Criminal courts provide a forum for conducting prosecutions with a guilty plea or a trial. Since queues are used as the basis for rationing scarce court facilities delays are inevitable, however courts are invariably criticised as being inefficient as a consequence. This focus on court delay defined as the time elapsing between the listing of the case in the court list and its final disposition is misleading. Rather, attention should be drawn to the considerably longer period between the initiation of proceedings and the conclusion of the case. In the case of defendants not granted bail, this pre-trial delay confers both costs and benefits on society and this observation can be used to ascertain socially optimal pre-trial waits. Copyright 2008 The Author.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Australian Economic Papers.

Volume (Year): 47 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1 (03)
Pages: 115-128

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Handle: RePEc:bla:ausecp:v:47:y:2008:i:1:p:115-128
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  1. Lode Vereeck & Manuela Mühl, 2000. "An Economic Theory of Court Delay," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 243-268, November.
  2. Grossman, Gene M & Katz, Michael L, 1983. "Plea Bargaining and Social Welfare," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(4), pages 749-57, September.
  3. William M. Landes, 1974. "An Economic Analysis of the Courts," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 164-214 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Posner, Richard A, 1987. "The Law and Economics Movement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(2), pages 1-13, May.
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