Do Judges' Characteristics Matter? Ethnicity, Gender, And Partisanship In Texas State Trial Cour
Lim, Silveira, And Snyder (2016)
Although judges are supposed to act neutrally when they are making decisions in the public domain, many individual characteristics may affect their decision-making in systematic ways. This article seeks to understand whether this is the case for judges in Texas, where the issue might be exacerbated by the popular election of judges.
The study takes advantage of the randomized assignment of cases within counties to judges in order to isolate the effects of ethnicity, gender, and political orientation. Thus treatment might be defined as cases that were sent to judges with a particular profile versus cases sent to judges with another profile.
The study finds no impact of judges' characteristics on the criminal sentencing decisions of judges in Texas. There is no systematic evidence that sentencing decisions are strongly influenced by judges' race, ethnicity, or party affiliation.