Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Not What the Judge Had for Breakfast....

It's whether he had it at all. From a new paper by Jonathan Levav:
In the legal domain, we demonstrate that parole decisions made by judges in a large prison system in Israel are influenced by the ordinal position of a prisoner’s case and, most strikingly, by the timing of the judge’s meal break. We find that a prisoner is less likely to be released following before a break (i.e., the status quo remains) rather than following a break (keep this in mind next time you’re on trial).

The reference is to a legal realist saw (attributed to Jerome Frank) that legal decisionmaking is determined "by what the judge had for breakfast".

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