Chapter

Criminal Cases: Suspects against the Government

in Measuring Judicial Independence

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780226703886
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226703879 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226703879.003.0007
Criminal Cases: Suspects against the Government

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This chapter examines criminal cases; in Japan, criminal defendants face extraordinarily high conviction rates. The chapter asks whether this might reflect skewed incentives: Do judges convict because hanging judges face better careers than lenient ones? At first glance, the data seem to make just that point. Importantly, however, the first glance misleads. To be sure, judges who acquit have worse careers. Yet a judge who acquits in a mundane case (for example, a judge who decides that the prosecutors nailed the wrong man) does not incur a professional penalty. Instead, the dynamic again involves politics and accuracy: a judge incurs the penalty either when he acquits defendants in sensitive prosecutions involving political activities, or if he misconstrues the law.

Keywords: criminal cases; criminal defendants; conviction rates; penalty; prosecution; political activity

Chapter.  11195 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Law

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