Search results for: Keyword=K41 [9]

2018
Empirical Methods for the Law
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics
174
5-23
2018
Abstract
To their credit, empirical legal scholars try to live up to the highest methodological standards from the social sciences. But these standards do not always match the legal research question. This paper focuses on normative legal argument based on empirical evidence. Whether there is a normative problem, and whether legal intervention promises to mitigate the problem, requires a decision. If uncertainty cannot be completely removed, the legal decision-maker must weigh the risk of false positives against the risk of false negatives. This may call for an adjustment of the significance level. The fact that all legal choice is historically contingent, that legal problems tend to be ill-defined, and that strategic actors have an incentive to bias the generation of evidence defy frequentist statistics. Yet the law can capitalize on the adversarial principle. Competition among interested parties helps contain the strategic element and spurs the creative search for better evidence. This leads to suggestive, but institutionally contained empirical evidence.
2017
Defendant Should Have the Last Word – Experimentally Manipulating Order and Provisional Assessment of the Facts in Criminal Procedure
2017/24
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
From a normative perspective the order in which evidence is presented should not bias legal judgment. Yet psychological research on how individuals process conflicting evidence sug-gests that order could matter. The evidence shows that decision-makers dissolve ambiguity by forging coherence. This process could lead to a primacy effect: initial tentative interpretations bias the view on later conflicting evidence. Or the process could result in a recency effect: the evidence presented last casts decisive light on the case. In two studies (N1 = 221, N2 = 332) we test these competing hypotheses in a mock legal case. Legal orders sometimes even expect judges to provisionally assess the evidence. At least they have a hard time preventing this from happening. To test whether this creates or exacerbates bias, in the second dimensions, we explicitly demand experimental participants to express their leaning, after having seen half of the evidence. We consistently observe recency effects and no interactions with leanings. If the legal order wants to preempt false convictions, defendant should have the last word.
Diffusion of Legal Innovations: The Case of Israeli Class Actions
2017/11
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
In law and economics, it is standard to model legal rules as an opportunity structure. The law’s subjects maximize expected profit, given these constraints. In such a model, the reaction to legal innovation is immediate. This is not what we observe after class action is introduced into Israeli law. For a long time, the new remedy is almost unused. Then the adoption process gains momentum. We discuss alternative options for theorizing the effect. We find that market entry is not only explained by the available information about profitability, but also by the adoption pattern of others. When deciding whether to bring further claims, law firms also react to the experiences they have made themselves. We thus explain the pattern by individual and social learning, and cannot exclude mere social imitation.
Does Efficiency Trump Legality? The Case of the German Constitutional Court
2017/20
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
The US Supreme Court has the power of certiorari. It may pick its fights. As a beneficial side effect, the court may allocate its resources, in particular the time and energy the justices spend on a case, to worthy causes. In economic parlance, this discretion makes the court more efficient. Efficiency comes at a political cost, though. This discretion also gives the court political power. It may direct its verdict to causes that are politically most relevant, or it may put an issue on the political agenda. Officially German constitutional law does not have certiorari. The Constitutional Court must decide each and every case that is brought. Yet over time the court has crafted a whole arsenal of more subtle measures for managing the case load. This paper shows that it uses these tools to engage in its version of allocating resources to cases. It investigates whether the ensuing efficiency gain comes at the cost of biasing the court’s jurisprudence. The paper exploits a new comprehensive data set. It consists of all (mostly only electronically) published cases the court has heard in 2011. While the data is rich, in many technical ways it is demanding. The paper uses a factor analysis to create a latent variable: to which degree has the court taken an individual case seriously? It then investigates whether observed indicators for bias explain this latent variable. Since the paper essentially investigates a single (independent) case, in statistical terms the findings are to be interpreted with caution. The paper can only aim at finding smoking guns.
Empirical Methods for the Law
2017/07
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2017
Abstract
To their credit, empirical legal scholars try to live up to the highest methodological standards from the social sciences. But these standards do not always match the legal research question. This paper focuses on normative legal argument based on empirical evidence. Whether there is a normative problem, and whether legal intervention promises to mitigate the problem, requires a decision. If uncertainty cannot be completely removed, the legal decision-maker must weigh the risk of false positives against the risk of false negatives. This may call for an adjustment of the significance level. The fact that all legal choice is historically contingent, that legal problems tend to be ill-defined, and that strategic actors have an incentive to bias the generation of evidence defy frequentist statistics. Yet the law can capitalize on the adversarial principle. Competition among interested parties helps contain the strategic element and spurs the creative search for better evidence. This leads to suggestive, but institutionally contained empirical evidence.
2016
You Are In Charge – Experimentally Testing the Motivating Power of Holding a Judicial Office
2016/15
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn
Bonn
2016
Abstract
Apparently judges’ decisions are not motivated by maximizing their own profit. The literature uses two strategies to explain this observation: judges care about the long-term monetary consequences for themselves, or individuals who are more strongly motivated by the common good self-select into the profession. We suggest that there is an additional explanation, the "office motive". In a lab experiment, we rule out both traditional explanations by design. Nonetheless authorities do a reliable job at overcoming a social dilemma. Calling the authorities "public official" or "judge" increases their sensitivity towards the degree by which individuals are selfish, and it reduces the effect of their social value orientation (making them more neutral). This suggests that the socially desirable effect is not driven by anger or sympathy with the victims, but follows from the desire to fulfill the expectations that come with the assigned task. We test three extensions: When given an opportunity to announce an explicit policy, judges become less sensitive to the objective degree of reproach, and more sensitive to their social value orientation. If judges are elected or experienced, they react more intensely to norm violations. Experienced judges are more affected by their social value orientation.
2015
Modeling a Satisficing Judge
2015/14
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2015
Abstract
Judges and juries frequently must decide, knowing that they do not know everything that would be relevant for deciding the case. The law uses two related institutions for enabling courts to nonetheless decide the case: the standard of proof, and the burden of proof. In this paper, we contrast a standard rational choice approach with a satisficing approach. Standard theory would want judges to rationally deal with the limitations of the evidence. We posit that this is not only descriptively implausible, but also normatively undesirable. We propose a theoretical framework for a judge who only considers scenarios that "she does not dare to neglect", and aims at decisions that are "good enough", given the undissolvable limitations of the evidence. We extend this approach to parties who strategically exploit the limited factual basis, and to judges who have to allocate limited resources for fact finding to more than one case.
Keywords: D82, C72, D81, K41, D03
2004
The Impact of Representation Norms on the Quality of Judicial Decisions
2004/13
Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods
Bonn
2004
Abstract
Judges are obliged to give reasons for their decisions. A set of formal and informal norms specifies how this is to be done. These norms serve a whole array of purposes. This paper shows that one substantial effect is on decision quality. The effect can even be demonstrated on an ad hoc basis. Representation norms and the actual representation activity that is brought about by them have both a cognitive and a motivational effect. They palpably hold the judge accountable for the decision taken. And they guide him through the judgment elements inherent in his task. There is interplay between both effects when it comes to combating occasional non-normative motivation, debiasing and the choice of an appropriate decision mode. More importantly even than this short-term effect is the long-term power of representation norms. They exert this power as part and parcel of a richer institutional arrangement. That arrangement reminds the judge of the professional role he is playing, and it contributes to strengthening this attitude. And the institutional arrangement helps the judge in the process of progressive expertisation. Expertisation is no absolute protection against quality defects, but it is likely to significantly improve the quality of decisions. Suggestions for the deregulation of representation norms should pay due respect to the beneficial effect these norms have on the quality of decisions