What are the pros and cons of appointing judges

The ongoing reshuffles at the top levels of power are of a directive nature, and society and the industry learn about new leaders from news reports. This situation brings to mind the classic debate about elected and appointed office.

In European countries, judges tend to follow a career path, receiving appointment after studying at a professional school for judges and practicing in court staff. On the contrary, in some US states eminent lawyers, whose professional achievements are recognized by the community, become judges.

The dualism of the above professions is true for most states. But if the hiring of diplomats almost never raises questions, then the appointment of judges is worthy of close attention, because representatives of this profession directly influence the development of society with their decisions.

The consensus of society and the judiciary on recruitment procedures ensures the credibility of the judiciary and strengthens its authority.

The idea of ​​the election of judges is so often expressed that it seems that this is a widely used procedure. In fact, the use of this institution is de facto limited in the US, where 90% of judges are elected. This is not the case in other developed countries. Therefore, in the modern world, the election of judges is the exception rather than the rule.

Does an elected judge depend on public opinion? For more than 10 years, empirical legal studies have been searching for the so-called electoral election cycles. The idea is simple: if electivity has any effect on the impartiality of judges, it is reasonable to assume that such an effect will be most pronounced as the date of (re)election approaches.

Therefore, researchers compare the severity of punishments imposed by judges, depending on how many days remain before re-election. If no connection is found, then we can conclude that Themis is blind.

How can the approaching elections affect the judge’s decision-making? David Abrams and co-authors in a recent study identify three mechanisms: the desire to appear tougher/humane to their constituents, the context of the decision (for example, more media attention to a judge who is a candidate for re-election), or human anxiety associated with the risk of losing a job if they lose. Only the first of the mechanisms tells us something about partiality.

To separate the three effects from each other, the researchers examined data from all North Carolina felony convictions from 1998–2011. In this state, the election of judges is combined with their mandatory rotation: every January and July, the judge changes the area of ​​\u200b\u200bhis work.

This allows you to compare the behavior of judges who have elections soon, working in their own and someone else’s district. Other things being equal, the judges experience the same stress due to the risk of losing and have the same context for the decision.

Difference in the severity of the punishments

Therefore, the difference in the severity of the punishments they impose will tell precisely about the partiality of Themis in the face of voters. Researchers have found that a judge will give about 10% harsher penalties in the run-up to an election, but only if he or she is currently working in his or her “home” district. In other cases, there is no increase in rigidity before the elections.

It turns out that the judges in North Carolina are indeed captured by the local community. Is it worth it, in view of such a conclusion, to unequivocally abandon the idea of ​​elections – after all, they give rise to partiality? Christian Dippel and Michael Peuker, in their study of electoral cycles, did not limit themselves to one state, but looked at 10.

They reliably established electoral cycles in only one state – namely, North Carolina. It turned out that the strength of the partiality of a judge on the eve of the elections depends on the competitiveness of such elections.

If a judge has no opponents in re-election, he or she will not change his or her behavior to please voters. It is in North Carolina that the election of judges is the most competitive, which is why electoral cycles are observed there.