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Judges differ substantially in their likelihood of granting relief from a death sentence, but several features of the federal judicial hierarchy increase legal consistency

Beim, Deborah and Kastellec, John (2014) Judges differ substantially in their likelihood of granting relief from a death sentence, but several features of the federal judicial hierarchy increase legal consistency. LSE American Politics and Policy (07 Aug 2014). Blog Entry.

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Abstract

A recent spate of apparently botched executions has once again brought the death penalty and defendants’ appeals against their sentences into the spotlight. But are decisions about sentences made consistently across the federal judiciary? By examining over 1,400 death penalty decisions made by three-judge panels over a thirty year period, Deborah Beim and John Kastellec find that panels with three Democratic judges are much more likely to grant relief to a defendant than panels with even a single Republican. This apparent problem of consistency is mitigated, however, by the institutional features of the federal courts. In particular, judges can dissent from decisions they disagree with, which can serve as a signal to higher courts that the panel’s decision warrants a review. Since most death penalty cases are heard in Republican-controlled circuits, this means that there is greater oversight of liberal decisions, and greater consistency in the law.

Item Type: Website (Blog Entry)
Official URL: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/
Additional Information: © 2014 The Author
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
K Law > KF United States Federal Law
Sets: Collections > LSE American Politics and Policy (USAPP) Blog
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2014 09:56
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2014 09:56
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/59378

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