The Effect of the Election of Prosecutors on Criminal Trials
We examine if elections of public prosecutors (as is common in the U.S.) influence the way they handle cases. In particular, does it affect which cases are taken to trial? A theoretical model is constructed where voters use outcomes of the criminal justice system as a signal of prosecutor's quality. This leads to a distortion of the mix of cases they take to trial. Our results imply that when re-election pressures are high (i) prosecutors take too many cases to trial. This increases the number of convictions from trial and reduces the amount of plea bargaining so that (ii) the proportion of convictions stemming from trial increases. Consequently, (iii) the average sanction obtained in both jury trials and plea bargains decreases. A detailed dataset from North Carolina is used to identify empirical evidence of such distortions. Our empirical findsings verify that elections do affect the decision of which cases to take to trial and confirms our predictions.
|Date of creation:||Mar 2011|
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