Prof. Berdejo's law review article assessing sentencing behavior of elected judges cited in New York Times

Associate Professor Carlos Berdejo's law review article, "Crime, Punishment and Politics" in the Review of Economics and Statistics, was referenced in a column entitled "Social Science Palooza III" by New York Times columnist David Brooks. Berdejo's article details how judges are toughest around election time.


Whether judges respond to political pressure is an important question occupying social scientists. We present evidence that Washington State judges respond to such pressure by sentencing serious crimes more severely. Sentences are around 10-percent longer at the end of a judge's political cycle than the beginning; deviations above the sentencing guidelines increase by 50% across the electoral cycle. We conduct robustness and falsi cation exercises and distinguish between judges' election cycles and other officials' by exploring non-linear e ects of electoral proximity. Our fi ndings inform debates over judicial elections, and highlight the interaction between judicial discretion and the in uence of judicial elections