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The effect of the election of prosecutors on criminal trials

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  • Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay
  • Bryan McCannon

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Abstract

We examine whether elections of public prosecutors influence the mix of cases taken to trial versus plea bargained. A theoretical model is constructed wherein voters use outcomes of the criminal justice system as a signal of prosecutors’ quality, leading to a distortion in the mix of cases taken to trial. Using data from North Carolina we test whether reelection pressures lead to (a) an increase in the number and proportion of convictions from jury trials and (b) a decrease in the average sanction obtained in both jury trials and pleas. Our empirical findings are consistent with our theoretical predictions. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan McCannon, 2014. "The effect of the election of prosecutors on criminal trials," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(1), pages 141-156, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:161:y:2014:i:1:p:141-156
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-013-0144-0
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Eric Rasmusen & Manu Raghav & Mark Ramseyer, 2009. "Convictions versus Conviction Rates: The Prosecutor's Choice," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(1), pages 47-78.
    2. Richard T. Boylan, 2005. "What Do Prosecutors Maximize? Evidence from the Careers of U.S. Attorneys," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 379-402.
    3. Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16.
    4. Joanna M. Shepherd, 2009. "The Influence of Retention Politics on Judges' Voting," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 169-206, January.
    5. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2010. "Conflict and Leadership: Why is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?," Discussion Papers 10-04, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    6. SIDDHARTHA BANDYOPADHYAY & BRYAN C. McCANNON, 2015. "Prosecutorial Retention: Signaling by Trial," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(2), pages 219-256, April.
    7. Farmer, Amy & Pecorino, Paul, 2002. "Pretrial bargaining with self-serving bias and asymmetric information," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(2), pages 163-176, June.
    8. Sumon Majumdar & Sharun W. Mukand, 2004. "Policy Gambles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1207-1222, September.
    9. Boylan, Richard T & Long, Cheryl X, 2005. "Salaries, Plea Rates, and the Career Objectives of Federal Prosecutors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(2), pages 627-651, October.
    10. 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.
    11. Rogoff, Kenneth, 1990. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 21-36, March.
    12. Carlos Berdejó & Noam Yuchtman, 2013. "Crime, Punishment, and Politics: An Analysis of Political Cycles in Criminal Sentencing," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 741-756, July.
    13. Hanssen, F Andrew, 1999. "The Effect of Judicial Institutions on Uncertainty and the Rate of Litigation: The Election versus Appointment of State Judges," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(1), pages 205-232, January.
    14. Clare Leaver, 2009. "Bureaucratic Minimal Squawk Behavior: Theory and Evidence from Regulatory Agencies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(3), pages 572-607, June.
    15. Hanssen, F Andrew, 2000. "Independent Courts and Administrative Agencies: An Empirical Analysis of the States," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 534-571, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan C McCannon, 2010. "Re-election Concerns and the Failure of Plea Bargaining," Discussion Papers 10-28, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    2. Nakao Keisuke & Tsumagari Masatoshi, 2012. "Pseudo-Adversarialism: A Theoretical Comparison Between the U.S. and Japanese Criminal Procedures," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-44, October.
    3. Engel, Christoph & Reuben, Alicja, 2015. "The people's hired guns? Experimentally testing the motivating force of a legal frame," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 67-82.
    4. repec:kap:copoec:v:28:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10602-017-9243-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan C McCannon, 2014. "Queuing Up For Justice: Elections and Case Backlogs," Discussion Papers 14-10, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    6. repec:bla:jpbect:v:20:y:2018:i:5:p:657-671 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Fleck Robert K. & Hanssen F. Andrew, 2012. "On the Benefits and Costs of Legal Expertise: Adjudication in Ancient Athens," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(2), pages 367-399, October.
    8. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2017. "Information suppression by teams and violations of the Brady rule," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 17-00001, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    9. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Bryan C McCannon, 2011. "The Redistricting of Public Prosecutors' Offices," Discussion Papers 11-13, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    10. Claudio Detotto & Bryan C. McCannon, 2017. "Economic freedom and public, non-market institutions: evidence from criminal prosecution," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 107-128, May.
    11. Bryan McCannon, 2011. "The distortion of criminal evidence," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(1), pages 59-67.
    12. repec:kap:pubcho:v:172:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0448-6 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Crime; Election; Plea bargaining; Prosecutor; Trials;

    JEL classification:

    • K41 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Litigation Process
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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