Chapter

Do Judges Do Better?

W. Kip Viscusi

in Punitive Damages

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780226780146
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226780160 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226780160.003.0015
Do Judges Do Better?

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Judges are not a random draw from the population and may not reflect all the usual patterns of error. They should be less prone to the kinds of biases and risk-decision errors exhibited by the populace more generally. In addition to being better educated than the average individual, judges are also experienced observers of risky decisions. After having handled a large series of cases involving accidents and hearing the testimony presented by both sides, judges should be much better able to put risk decisions in perspective. Judges are also able to observe the outcome in these cases and whether the decisions are overturned on appeal. Because the appeals process provides a check on judicial errors, observation of this feedback mechanism should enhance judges' ability to make sounder risk decisions over time. This chapter examines the responses by a sample of ninety-five state judges to a written survey about risk decisions. Although reliance on the results of a questionnaire may not capture the particular biases that are most influential in actual judicial decisions, it does provide a structured framework for exploring a wider range of issues than can be examined using case data.

Keywords: risk-decision errors; judicial decisions; biases; judicial errors; case data; punitive damages

Chapter.  7749 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

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