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Runaway Judges? Selection Effects and the Jury

  • Eric Helland

    (Claremont McKenna College)

  • Alexander Taberrok

    (Georgetown University)

Reports about runaway jury awards have become so common that it is widely accepted that the US jury system needs to be ‘fixed.’ Proposals to limit the right to a jury trial and increase judicial discretion over awards implicitly assume that judges decide cases differently than juries. We show that there are large differences in mean awards and win rates across juries and judges. But if the types of cases coming before juries are different from those coming before judges, mean award and win rates may differ even if judges and juries would make the same decisions when faced with the same cases. We find that most of the difference in judge and jury mean awards can be explained by differences in the sample of cases coming before judges and juries. On some dimensions, however, there remain robust and suggestive differences between judges and juries.

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Paper provided by Claremont Colleges in its series Claremont Colleges Working Papers with number 2000-10.

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Handle: RePEc:clm:clmeco:2000-10
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  1. Heckman, James J, 1979. "Sample Selection Bias as a Specification Error," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 153-61, January.
  2. Cooter, Robert D & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1989. "Economic Analysis of Legal Disputes and Their Resolution," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(3), pages 1067-97, September.
  3. Boyes, William J. & Hoffman, Dennis L. & Low, Stuart A., 1989. "An econometric analysis of the bank credit scoring problem," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 3-14, January.
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