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Empirical legal studies

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Articles 1 - 29 of 29

Full-Text Articles in Law

Police Frisks, David S. Abrams, Hanming Fang, Priyanka Goonetilleke May 2022

Police Frisks, David S. Abrams, Hanming Fang, Priyanka Goonetilleke

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The standard economic model of police stops implies that the contraband hit rate should rise when the number of stops falls, ceteris paribus. We provide empirical corroboration of such optimizing models of police behavior by examining changes in stops and frisks around two extraordinary events of 2020 - the pandemic onset and the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd. We find that hit rates from pedestrian and vehicle stops generally rose as stops and frisks fell dramatically. Using detailed data, we are able to rule out a number of alternative explanations, including changes in street population, crime, police …


Racial Rhetoric Or Reality? Cautious Optimism On The Link Between Corporate #Blm Speech And Behavior, Lisa Fairfax Jan 2022

Racial Rhetoric Or Reality? Cautious Optimism On The Link Between Corporate #Blm Speech And Behavior, Lisa Fairfax

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The summer of 2022 marks the two-year anniversary of the dramatic rekindling of the #BlackLivesMatter movement because of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other unarmed Black people at the hands of police. The summer of 2020 saw cities in the United States and around the world erupt in protest, with calls to dismantle racist policies and practices both in the criminal system and within the broader society, with a particular emphasis on policies and practices impacting Black people. The summer of 2022 also marks the two-year anniversary of the visible and somewhat surprising avalanche of corporate statements …


Do Esg Funds Deliver On Their Promises?, Quinn Curtis, Jill E. Fisch, Adriana Z. Robertson Dec 2021

Do Esg Funds Deliver On Their Promises?, Quinn Curtis, Jill E. Fisch, Adriana Z. Robertson

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Corporations have received growing criticism for their role in climate change, perpetuating racial and gender inequality, and other pressing social issues. In response to these concerns, shareholders are increasingly focusing on environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) criteria in selecting investments, and asset managers are responding by offering a growing number of ESG mutual funds. The flow of assets into ESG is one of the most dramatic trends in asset management.

But are these funds giving investors what they promise? This question has attracted the attention of regulators, with the Department of Labor and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) …


The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro Jun 2021

The Deregulation Deception, Cary Coglianese, Natasha Sarin, Stuart Shapiro

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President Donald Trump and members of his Administration repeatedly asserted that they had delivered substantial deregulation that fueled positive trends in the U.S. economy prior to the COVID pandemic. Drawing on an original analysis of data on federal regulation from across the Trump Administration’s four years, we show that the Trump Administration actually accomplished much less by way of deregulation than it repeatedly claimed—and much less than many commentators and scholars have believed. In addition, and also contrary to the Administration’s claims, overall economic trends in the pre-pandemic Trump years tended simply to follow economic trends that began years earlier. …


Enhanced Public Defense Improves Pretrial Outcomes And Reduces Racial Disparities, Paul S. Heaton Apr 2021

Enhanced Public Defense Improves Pretrial Outcomes And Reduces Racial Disparities, Paul S. Heaton

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Numerous jurisdictions are working to reform pretrial processes to reduce or eliminate money bail and decrease pretrial detention. Although reforms such as the abandonment of bail schedules or adoption of actuarial risk assessment tools have been widely enacted, the role of defense counsel in the pretrial process has received less attention.

This Article considers an approach to pretrial reform focused on improving the quality of defense counsel. In Philadelphia, a substantial fraction of people facing criminal charges are detained following rapid preliminary hearings where initial release conditions are set by bail magistrates operating with limited information. Beginning in 2017, the …


Unrules, Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler, Daniel Walters Apr 2021

Unrules, Cary Coglianese, Gabriel Scheffler, Daniel Walters

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At the center of contemporary debates over public law lies administrative agencies’ discretion to impose rules. Yet, for every one of these rules, there are also unrules nearby. Often overlooked and sometimes barely visible, unrules are the decisions that regulators make to lift or limit the scope of a regulatory obligation, for instance through waivers, exemptions, and exceptions. In some cases, unrules enable regulators to reduce burdens on regulated entities or to conserve valuable government resources in ways that make law more efficient. However, too much discretion to create unrules can facilitate undue business influence over the law, weaken regulatory …


Litigating Epa Rules: A Fifty-Year Retrospective Of Environmental Rulemaking In The Courts, Cary Coglianese, Daniel E. Walters Jan 2020

Litigating Epa Rules: A Fifty-Year Retrospective Of Environmental Rulemaking In The Courts, Cary Coglianese, Daniel E. Walters

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Over the last fifty years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found itself repeatedly defending its regulations before federal judges. The agency’s engagement with the federal judiciary has resulted in prominent Supreme Court decisions, such as Chevron v. NRDC and Massachusetts v. EPA, which have left a lasting imprint on federal administrative law. Such prominent litigation has also fostered, for many observers, a longstanding impression of an agency besieged by litigation. In particular, many lawyers and scholars have long believed that unhappy businesses or environmental groups challenge nearly every EPA rule in court. Although some empirical studies have …


Misdemeanors By The Numbers, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan T. Stevenson Jan 2020

Misdemeanors By The Numbers, Sandra G. Mayson, Megan T. Stevenson

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Recent scholarship has underlined the importance of criminal misdemeanor law enforcement, including the impact of public-order policing on communities of color, the collateral consequences of misdemeanor arrest or conviction, and the use of misdemeanor prosecution to raise municipal revenue. But despite the fact that misdemeanors represent more than three-quarters of all criminal cases filed annually in the United States, our knowledge of misdemeanor case processing is based mostly on anecdote and extremely localized research. This Article represents the most substantial empirical analysis of misdemeanor case processing to date. Using multiple court-record datasets, covering several million cases across eight diverse jurisdictions, …


Boots And Bail On The Ground: Assessing The Implementation Of Misdemeanor Bail Reforms In Georgia, Andrea Woods, Sandra G. Mayson, Lauren Sudeall, Guthrie Armstrong, Anthony Potts Jan 2020

Boots And Bail On The Ground: Assessing The Implementation Of Misdemeanor Bail Reforms In Georgia, Andrea Woods, Sandra G. Mayson, Lauren Sudeall, Guthrie Armstrong, Anthony Potts

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This Article presents a mixed-methods study of misdemeanor bail practice across Georgia in the wake of reform. We observed bail hearings and interviewed system actors in a representative sample of fifty-five counties to assess the extent to which pretrial practice conforms to legal standards clarified in Senate Bill 407 and Walker v. Calhoun. We also analyzed jail population data published by county jails and by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. We found that a handful of counties have made promising headway in adhering to law and best practices, but that the majority have some distance to go. Most …


The Effects Of Holistic Defense On Criminal Justice Outcomes, James Anderson, Maya Buenaventura, Paul Heaton Jan 2019

The Effects Of Holistic Defense On Criminal Justice Outcomes, James Anderson, Maya Buenaventura, Paul Heaton

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No abstract provided.


The Scale Of Misdemeanor Justice, Megan T. Stevenson, Sandra G. Mayson Jan 2018

The Scale Of Misdemeanor Justice, Megan T. Stevenson, Sandra G. Mayson

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This Article seeks to provide the most comprehensive national-level empirical analysis of misdemeanor criminal justice that is currently feasible given the state of data collection in the United States. First, we estimate that there are 13.2 million misdemeanor cases filed in the United States each year. Second, contrary to conventional wisdom, this number is not rising. Both the number of misdemeanor arrests and cases filed have declined markedly in recent years. In fact, national arrest rates for almost every misdemeanor offense category have been declining for at least two decades, and the misdemeanor arrest rate was lower in 2014 than …


The Global Diffusion Of Law: Transnational Crime And The Case Of Human Trafficking, Beth A. Simmons, Paulette Lloyd, Brandon M. Steward Jan 2018

The Global Diffusion Of Law: Transnational Crime And The Case Of Human Trafficking, Beth A. Simmons, Paulette Lloyd, Brandon M. Steward

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The past few decades have seen the proliferation of new laws criminalizing certain transnational activities, from money laundering to corruption; from insider trading to trafficking in weapons and drugs. Human trafficking is one example. We argue criminalization of trafficking in persons has diffused in large part because of the way the issue has been framed: primarily as a problem of organized crime rather than predominantly an egregious human rights abuse. Framing human trafficking as an organized crime practice empowers states to confront cross border human movements viewed as potentially threatening. We show that the diffusion of criminalization is explained by …


Taxation, Competitiveness, And Inversions: A Response To Kleinbard, Michael S. Knoll May 2017

Taxation, Competitiveness, And Inversions: A Response To Kleinbard, Michael S. Knoll

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In this report, I argue that the inversion situation is more nuanced, complex, and ambiguous than Edward D. Kleinbard acknowledges, and I challenge Kleinbard’s claim that U.S. multinationals are on a tax par with their foreign competitors.


Class Actions And The Counterrevolution Against Federal Litigation, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2017

Class Actions And The Counterrevolution Against Federal Litigation, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

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In this article we situate consideration of class actions in a framework, and fortify it with data, that we have developed as part of a larger project, the goal of which is to assess the counterrevolution against private enforcement of federal law from an institutional perspective. In a series of articles emerging from the project, we have documented how the Executive, Congress and the Supreme Court (wielding both judicial power under Article III of the Constitution and delegated legislative power under the Rules Enabling Act) fared in efforts to reverse or dull the effects of statutory and other incentives for …


The Perverse Consequences Of Disclosing Standard Terms, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan Jan 2017

The Perverse Consequences Of Disclosing Standard Terms, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan

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Although assent is the doctrinal and theoretical hallmark of contract, its relevance for form contracts has been drastically undermined by the overwhelming evidence that no one reads standard terms. Until now, most political and academic discussions of this phenomenon have acknowledged the truth of universally unread contracts, but have assumed that even unread terms are at best potentially helpful, and at worst harmless. This Article makes the empirical case that unread terms are not a neutral part of American commerce; instead, the mere fact of fine print inhibits reasonable challenges to unfair deals. The experimental study reported here tests the …


Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse Jun 2016

Actions Speak Louder Than Images: The Use Of Neuroscientific Evidence In Criminal Cases, Stephen J. Morse

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This invited commentary for Journal of Law & the Biosciences considers four empirical studies previously published in the journal of the reception of neuroscientific evidence in criminal cases in the United States, Canada, England and Wales, and the Netherlands. There are conceded methodological problems with all, but the data are nonetheless instructive and suggestive. The thesis of the comment is that the courts are committing the same errors that have bedeviled the reception of psychiatric and psychological evidence. There is insufficient caution about the state of the science, and more importantly, there is insufficient understanding of the relevance of the …


The Subterranean Counterrevolution: The Supreme Court, The Media, And Litigation Retrenchment, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang Jan 2016

The Subterranean Counterrevolution: The Supreme Court, The Media, And Litigation Retrenchment, Stephen B. Burbank, Sean Farhang

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This article is part of a larger project to study the counterrevolution against private enforcement of federal law from an institutional perspective. In a series of articles emerging from the project, we show how the Executive, Congress and the Supreme Court (wielding both judicial power under Article III of the Constitution and delegated legislative power under the Rules Enabling Act) fared in efforts to reverse or dull the effects of statutory and other incentives for private enforcement. An institutional perspective helps to explain the outcome we document: the long-term erosion of the infrastructure of private enforcement as a result of …


Everything’S Bigger In Texas: Except The Medmal Settlements, Tom Baker, Eric Helland, Jonathan Klick Jan 2016

Everything’S Bigger In Texas: Except The Medmal Settlements, Tom Baker, Eric Helland, Jonathan Klick

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Recent work using Texas closed claim data finds that physicians are rarely required to use personal assets in medical malpractice settlements even when plaintiffs secure judgments above the physician's insurance limits. In equilibrium, this should lead physicians to purchase less insurance. Qualitative research on the behavior of plaintiffs suggests that there is a norm under which plaintiffs agree not to pursue personal assets as long as defendants are not grossly underinsured. This norm operates as a soft constraint on physicians. All other things equal, while physicians want to lower their coverage, they do not want to violate the norm and …


From Promise To Form: How Contracting Online Changes Consumers, David A. Hoffman Jan 2016

From Promise To Form: How Contracting Online Changes Consumers, David A. Hoffman

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I hypothesize that different experiences with online contracting have led some consumers to see contracts—both online and offline—in distinctive ways. Experimenting on a large, nationally representative sample, this paper provides evidence of age-based and experience-based differences in views of consumer contract formation and breach. I show that younger subjects who have entered into more online contracts are likelier than older ones to think that contracts can be formed online, that digital contracts are legitimate while oral contracts are not, and that contract law is unforgiving of breach.

I argue that such individual differences in views of contract formation and enforceability …


Behavioral Economics Of Education: Progress And Possibilities, Adam Lavecchia, Heidi H. Liu, Philip Oreopoulos Jan 2016

Behavioral Economics Of Education: Progress And Possibilities, Adam Lavecchia, Heidi H. Liu, Philip Oreopoulos

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Behavioral economics attempts to integrate insights from psychology, neuroscience, and sociology in order to better predict individual outcomes and develop more effective policy. While the field has been successfully applied to many areas, education has, so far, received less attention – a surprising oversight, given the field's key interest in long-run decision-making and the propensity of youth to make poor long-run decisions. In this chapter, we review the emerging literature on the behavioral economics of education. We first develop a general framework for thinking about why youth and their parents might not always take full advantage of education opportunities. We …


Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick Jan 2016

Identifying Criminals’ Risk Preferences, Murat C. Mungan, Jonathan Klick

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There is a 250 year old presumption in the criminology and law enforcement literature that people are deterred more by increases in the certainty rather than increases in the severity of legal sanctions. We call this presumption the Certainty Aversion Presumption (CAP). Simple criminal decision making models suggest that criminals must be risk-seeking if they behave consistently with CAP. This implication leads to disturbing interpretations, such as criminals being categorically different than law abiding people, who often display risk-averse behavior while making financial decisions. Moreover, policy discussions that incorrectly rely on criminals’ risk attitudes implied by CAP are ill-informed, and …


Can We Learn Anything About Pleading Changes From Existing Data?, Jonah B. Gelbach Jan 2015

Can We Learn Anything About Pleading Changes From Existing Data?, Jonah B. Gelbach

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In light of the gateway role that the pleading standard can play in our civil litigation system, measuring the empirical effects of pleading policy changes embodied in the Supreme Court's controversial Twombly and Iqbal cases is important. In my earlier paper, Locking the Doors to Discovery, I argued that in doing so, special care is required in formulating the object of empirical study. Taking party behavior seriously, as Locking the Doors does, leads to empirical results suggesting that Twombly and Iqbal have had substantial effects among cases that face Rule 12(b)(6) motions post-Iqbal. This paper responds to …


U.S. Vs. European Broadband Deployment: What Do The Data Say?, Christopher S. Yoo Jun 2014

U.S. Vs. European Broadband Deployment: What Do The Data Say?, Christopher S. Yoo

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As the Internet becomes more important to the everyday lives of people around the world, commentators have tried to identify the best policies increasing the deployment and adoption of high-speed broadband technologies. Some claim that the European model of service-based competition, induced by telephone-style regulation, has outperformed the facilities-based competition underlying the US approach to promoting broadband deployment. The mapping studies conducted by the US and the EU for 2011 and 2012 reveal that the US led the EU in many broadband metrics.

• High-Speed Access: A far greater percentage of US households had access to Next Generation Access (NGA) …


A Psychological Account Of Consent To Fine Print, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan May 2014

A Psychological Account Of Consent To Fine Print, Tess Wilkinson-Ryan

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The moral and social norms that bear on contracts of adhesion suggest a deep ambivalence. Contracts are perceived as serious moral obligations, and yet they must be taken lightly or everyday commerce would be impossible. Most people see consent to boilerplate as less meaningful than consent to negotiated terms, but they nonetheless would hold consumers strictly liable for both. This Essay aims to unpack the beliefs, preferences, assumptions, and biases that constitute our assessments of assent to boilerplate. Research suggests that misgivings about procedural defects in consumer contracting weigh heavily on judgments of contract formation, but play almost no role …


Performance Track’S Postmortem: Lessons From The Rise And Fall Of Epa’S “Flagship” Voluntary Program, Cary Coglianese, Jennifer Nash Jan 2014

Performance Track’S Postmortem: Lessons From The Rise And Fall Of Epa’S “Flagship” Voluntary Program, Cary Coglianese, Jennifer Nash

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For nearly a decade, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) considered its National Environmental Performance Track to be its “flagship” voluntary program — even a model for transforming the conventional system of environmental regulation. Since Performance Track’s founding during the Clinton Administration, EPA officials repeatedly claimed that the program’s rewards attracted hundreds of the nation’s “top” environmental performers and induced these businesses to make significant environmental gains beyond legal requirements. Although EPA eventually disbanded Performance Track early in the Obama Administration, the program has been subsequently emulated by a variety of state and federal regulatory authorities. To discern lessons …


Rethinking Summary Judgment Empirics: The Life Of The Parties, Jonah B. Gelbach Jan 2014

Rethinking Summary Judgment Empirics: The Life Of The Parties, Jonah B. Gelbach

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No abstract provided.


Wikitruth Through Wikiorder, David A. Hoffman, Salil K. Mehra Jan 2009

Wikitruth Through Wikiorder, David A. Hoffman, Salil K. Mehra

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How does large-scale social production coordinate individual behavior to produce public goods? Hardin (1968) denied that the creation of public goods absent markets or the State is possible. Benkler (2006), Shirky (2008), Zittrain (2008), and Lessig (2008) recently countered that the needed coordination might emerge though social norms. However, the means to this coordination is under-theorized. Focusing on Wikipedia, we argue that the site’s dispute resolution process is an important force in promoting the public good it produces, i.e., a large number of relatively accurate public encyclopedia articles. We describe the development and shape of Wikipedia’s existing dispute resolution system. …


The Effects Of Tort Reform On Medical Malpractice Insurers’ Ultimate Losses, Patricia Born, W. Kip Viscusi, Tom Baker Jan 2009

The Effects Of Tort Reform On Medical Malpractice Insurers’ Ultimate Losses, Patricia Born, W. Kip Viscusi, Tom Baker

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Whereas the literature evaluating the effect of tort reforms has focused on reported incurred losses, this paper examines the long run effects using a comprehensive sample by state of individual firms writing medical malpractice insurance from 1984-2003. The long run effects of reforms are greater than insurers' expected effects, as five year developed losses and ten year developed losses are below the initially reported incurred losses for those years following reform measures. The quantile regressions show the greatest effects of joint and several liability limits, noneconomic damages caps, and punitive damages reforms for the firms that are at the high …


Justice, Liability, And Blame: Community Views And The Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley Jan 1995

Justice, Liability, And Blame: Community Views And The Criminal Law, Paul H. Robinson, John M. Darley

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This book reports empirical studies on 18 different areas of substantive criminal law in which the study results showing ordinary people’s judgments of justice are compared to the governing legal doctrine to highlight points of agreement and disagreement. The book also identifies trends and patterns in agreement and disagreement and discusses the implications for the formulation of criminal law. The chapters include:

Chapter 1. Community Views and the Criminal Law (Introduction; An Overview; Why Community Views Should Matter; Research Methods)

Chapter 2. Doctrines of Criminalization: What Conduct Should Be Criminal? (Objective Requirements of Attempt (Study 1); Creating a Criminal Risk …