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Prosecutorial Retention: Signaling by Trial

  • Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay
  • Bryan C McCannon

We examine how retention motives affect prosecutor behaviour under different evaluation criteria. In particular, we analyze how prosecutors of differing capabilities respond in choosing which cases to take to trail and which to plea bargain. We show how different criteria distort the mix of cases chosen for trail and that the direction of the distortion depends crucially on the evaluation tool used. Optimal evaluation metrics are derived that combine multiple signals of performance and are shown to achieve the first-best outcome.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.bham.ac.uk/pub/RePEc/pdf/10-11.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Birmingham in its series Discussion Papers with number 10-11.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bir:birmec:10-11
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT

Web page: http://www.economics.bham.ac.uk

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  1. Baker, Scott & Mezzetti, Claudio, 2001. "Prosecutorial Resources, Plea Bargaining, and the Decision to Go to Trial," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 149-67, April.
  2. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
  3. David Bjerk, 2007. "Guilt Shall Not Escape or Innocence Suffer? The Limits of Plea Bargaining When Defendant Guilt is Uncertain," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 305-329.
  4. 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.
  5. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2011. "Conflict and Leadership: When is There a Hawkish Drift in Politics?," School of Economics Working Papers 2011-24, University of Adelaide, School of Economics.
  6. 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.
  7. Kenneth Rogoff, 1987. "Equilibrium Political Budget Cycles," NBER Working Papers 2428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Leshem Shmuel, 2009. "Contingent Fees, Signaling and Settlement Authority," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 435-460, June.
  9. Reinganum, Jennifer F, 1988. "Plea Bargaining and Prosecutorial Discretion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 713-28, September.
  10. 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.
  11. Landes, William M, 1971. "An Economic Analysis of the Courts," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(1), pages 61-107, April.
  12. repec:inr:wpaper:30422 is not listed on IDEAS
  13. Besley, Timothy J. & Coate, Stephen, 2000. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory And Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Kenneth Rogoff & Anne Sibert, 1988. "Elections and Macroeconomic Policy Cycles," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16.
  15. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
  16. 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 205-32, January.
  17. Philippe Delacote & Lydie Ancelot, 2009. "Prosecutor and lawyers in plea bargaining with complete information," Post-Print hal-01072324, HAL.
  18. Garoupa, Nuno, 2009. "Some reflections on the economics of prosecutors: Mandatory vs. selective prosecution," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 25-28, March.
  19. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
  20. Jennifer Reinganum, 2000. "Sentencing Guidelines, Judicial Discretion, and Plea Bargaining," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 31(1), pages 62-81, Spring.
  21. 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 534-71, October.
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