An Analysis of Judicial Decision Making Research: What do We Know About the Influences on Judges?

Matthew S. Crow, Florida State University

Judges are in a unique position in the American criminal justice system. Unlike many other actors in the criminal justice system, judges are not responsible exclusively for representing the state's interest. Ideally, their function involves the search and maintenance of justice. In addition, judges have at least as much, and perhaps more discretion than other actors in the criminal justice system. The various factors which may or may not influence a judge's decisions has been a topic of interest in the literature for some time. This paper examines the empirical literature concerning judges' decisions in an attempt to determine our current understanding of the various influences on these decisions.

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Updated 05/20/2006