What is the Value of Judicial Sentencing Experience? Exploring Judge Trajectories Using Longitudinal Data
Aim: Judicial experience is considered essential for proper functioning of sentencing system. We investigate its role in reducing sentencing disparity and how it influences judicial decisions. Methods: We analyze all Czech criminal decisions including judge identifiers over 11 years, enabling us to make use of the longitudinal research design. This allows us to measure experience directly via the number of criminal cases processed. We employ growth-curve models to assess between judge variability across their careers. Results: As judges become more experienced, between judge disparities in imposing prison sentence and in deciding on its length, on a number of imposed sanctions, on a guilt and via a shortened procedure were reduced. More experienced judges imposed more non-suspended prison sentences, decided fewer cases via shortened procedure and found fewer offenders guilty. Yet increased experience did not on average influence length of non-suspended prison sentence, number of imposed sanctions or the probability of decisions being appealed. Conclusion: Experience is instrumental for judicial decision-making, contributing to higher consistency of judicial decision making.
Exploring the Origin of Sentencing Disparities in the Crown Court: Using Text Mining Techniques to Differentiate between Court and Judge Disparities
Research on sentence consistency in England and Wales has focused on aggregated disparities between courts, with differences between judges largely ignored. This is due to the limitations in official data. Using text mining techniques from Crown Court sentence records available online we generate a sample of 7,212 violent and sexual offences where both court and judge are captured. Multilevel time-to-event analyses of sentence length demonstrate that most disparities originate at the judge, not the court-level. Two important implications follow: i) the extent of sentencing consistency in England and Wales has been underestimated; and ii) the importance attributed to the location in which sentences are passed needs to be revisited. Further analysis of the judge level disparities identifies the judicial rotation across courts as a practice conducive of sentence co