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Public Law and Legal Theory Papers

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Strategic Judging Under The United States Sentencing Guidelines: Positive Political Theory And Evidence, Max M. Schanzenbach, Emerson Tiller May 2005

Strategic Judging Under The United States Sentencing Guidelines: Positive Political Theory And Evidence, Max M. Schanzenbach, Emerson Tiller

Public Law and Legal Theory Papers

We present a positive political theory of criminal sentencing and test it using data from the United States Sentencing Commission. The theory posits that, faced with appellate review, federal district court judges applying the Sentencing Guidelines strategically use "sentencing instruments" -- fact-based and law-based determinations made during the sentencing phase -- to maximize the judges' sentencing preferences subject to the Guideline’s constraints. Specifically, district court judges are more likely to use law-based departures when they share the same party ideology with the overseeing circuit court than when there is no party alignment between the two courts. Fact-based adjustments, on the other ...


What Is Legal Doctrine, Emerson Tiller, Frank B. Cross May 2005

What Is Legal Doctrine, Emerson Tiller, Frank B. Cross

Public Law and Legal Theory Papers

Legal doctrine is the currency of the law. In many respects, doctrine is the law, at least as it comes from courts. Judicial opinions create the rules or standards that comprise legal doctrine. Yet the nature and effect of legal doctrine has been woefully understudied. Researchers from the legal academy and from political science departments have conducted extensive research on the law, but they have largely ignored the others’ efforts. Part of the reason for this unfortunate disconnect is that neither has effectively come to grips with the descriptive meaning of legal doctrine. In this article, we attempt to describe ...