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When in Rome... on local norms and sentencing decisions

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Listed:
  • David Abrams

    (University of Pennsylvania (Penn))

  • Roberto Galbiati

    (Département d'économie (ECON))

  • Emeric Henry

    (Département d'économie)

  • Arnaud Philippe

Abstract

In this paper, we show that sentencing norms vary widely even across geographically close units. By examining North Carolina’s unique judicial rotation system, we show that judges arriving in a new court gradually converge to local sentencing norms. We document factors that facilitate this convergence and show that sentencing norms are predicted by preferences of the local constituents. We build on these empirical results to analyze theoretically the delegation trade-off faced by a social planner: the judge can learn the local norm, but only at the cost of potential capture.

Suggested Citation

  • David Abrams & Roberto Galbiati & Emeric Henry & Arnaud Philippe, 2019. "When in Rome... on local norms and sentencing decisions," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2019-04, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/4jcok93a4m9d1qtc3vnp4bdefk
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Max M. Schanzenbach & Emerson H. Tiller, 2007. "Strategic Judging Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines: Positive Political Theory and Evidence," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(1), pages 24-56, April.
    2. Francesco Drago & Roberto Galbiati & Pietro Vertova, 2009. "The Deterrent Effects of Prison: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(2), pages 257-280, April.
    3. Amy Finkelstein & Matthew Gentzkow & Heidi Williams, 2016. "Sources of Geographic Variation in Health Care: Evidence From PatientMigration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1681-1726.
    4. David S. Abrams & Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2012. "Do Judges Vary in Their Treatment of Race?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(2), pages 347-383.
    5. Ichino, Andrea & Polo, Michele & Rettore, Enrico, 2003. "Are judges biased by labor market conditions?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(5), pages 913-944, October.
    6. Blanes i Vidal, Jordi & Leaver, Clare, 2011. "Are tenured judges insulated from political pressure?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 570-586, August.
    7. David Molitor, 2018. "The Evolution of Physician Practice Styles: Evidence from Cardiologist Migration," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 326-356, February.
    8. Blanes i Vidal, Jordi & Leaver, Clare, 2011. "Are tenured judges insulated from political pressure?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 570-586.
    9. Ernesto Dal Bó & Martín A. Rossi, 2011. "Term Length and the Effort of Politicians," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1237-1263.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Abrams & Roberto Galbiati & Emeric Henry & Arnaud Philippe, 2023. "Electoral Sentencing Cycles," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 39(2), pages 350-370.
    2. Dippel, Christian & Poyker, Michael, 2021. "Rules versus norms: How formal and informal institutions shape judicial sentencing cycles," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 645-659.

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