Crafting Law on State Courts

Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2014

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Political Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Most cases in the United States are decided by elected judges. Yet, little scholarship has been produced about the consequences of these institutions for legal development. This project fills this need in the literature by providing and testing empirically a theory about the consequences of judicial retention institutions on the development of the law crafted by state judges. Specifically, this project tests the hypothesis that the use of judicial elections affects legal outcomes by inducing judges to appeal to both the public and to elites. In particular, I demonstrate that elected judges write opinions that are more readable than judges who do not face elections, that judges who do not face elections are more likely to rely upon independent state constitutional law than elected judges when resolving criminal cases, and that elected judges, when given high-quality, consistency-specific information about citizen preferences, adjust their sentencing behavior to fall in line with constituency opinion.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Andrew D Martin

Committee Members

James L Gibson, James F Spriggs, II, William Lowry, Adam Badawi


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/K79P2ZMB

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