Estimating the Effect of Leisure on Judicial Performance

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2018
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Clark, Tom S.
Staton, Jeffrey K.
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The Journal of Legal Studies. University of Chicago Press. 2018, 47(2), pp. 349-390. ISSN 0047-2530. eISSN 1537-5366. Available under: doi: 10.1086/699150
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Past research suggests that natural preferences for leisure influence the ways in which federal judges carry out their work. We consider the extent to which incentives for leisure reduce the speed with which judges work and the quality of their output. We take advantage of a natural experiment caused by an annual sporting event that creates differential distractions across judges. Using a difference-in-differences design, among federal courts of appeals judges we show that a judge’s alma mater’s participation in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Tournament both slows the rate at which opinions are drafted and ultimately undermines the opinions’ quality, even accounting for the additional time judges spend writing them. The findings suggest that incentives for leisure influence important normative concerns for swift and high-quality justice.

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ISO 690CLARK, Tom S., Benjamin G. ENGST, Jeffrey K. STATON, 2018. Estimating the Effect of Leisure on Judicial Performance. In: The Journal of Legal Studies. University of Chicago Press. 2018, 47(2), pp. 349-390. ISSN 0047-2530. eISSN 1537-5366. Available under: doi: 10.1086/699150
BibTex
@article{Clark2018Estim-55291,
  year={2018},
  doi={10.1086/699150},
  title={Estimating the Effect of Leisure on Judicial Performance},
  number={2},
  volume={47},
  issn={0047-2530},
  journal={The Journal of Legal Studies},
  pages={349--390},
  author={Clark, Tom S. and Engst, Benjamin G. and Staton, Jeffrey K.}
}
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    <dcterms:abstract xml:lang="eng">Past research suggests that natural preferences for leisure influence the ways in which federal judges carry out their work. We consider the extent to which incentives for leisure reduce the speed with which judges work and the quality of their output. We take advantage of a natural experiment caused by an annual sporting event that creates differential distractions across judges. Using a difference-in-differences design, among federal courts of appeals judges we show that a judge’s alma mater’s participation in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Tournament both slows the rate at which opinions are drafted and ultimately undermines the opinions’ quality, even accounting for the additional time judges spend writing them. The findings suggest that incentives for leisure influence important normative concerns for swift and high-quality justice.</dcterms:abstract>
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