Miscellaneous Articles

Below are a few interesting articles for those interested in LSM theory or empirical work (they are in no particular order):

Akerlof, The Market for “Lemons”: Quality, Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism

The seminal work on adverse selection.

Jennifer Bennett Shinall, Slipping Away from Justice: The Effect of Attorney Skill on Trial Outcomes

Where the author gets close to living in living in my ratex prosecutor world. I’ll write about this paper (and Abrams and Yoon)

Abrams and Yoon, The Luck of the Draw: Using Random Case Assignment to Investigate Attorney Ability

Investigating attorney ability.

Roach, Indigent Defense Counsel, Attorney Quality, and Defendant Outcomes

Kahan, Hoffman, Evans, Devins, Lucci and Cheng, “Ideology” or “Situation Sense”? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment

Landes, An Economic Analysis of the Courts

Baker and Mezzetti, Prosecutorial Resources, Plea Bargaining, and the Decision to Go to Trial

Weimer, Plea Bargaining and the Decision to go to Trial: The Application of a Rational Choice Model

Yang, Resource Constraints and the Criminal Justice System: Evidence from Judicial Vacancies



Judge William Blackstone on the proper orientation toward new ventures:

The general expectation of so numerous and respectable an audience, the novelty, and (I may add) the importance of the duty required from this chair, must unavoidably be productive of great diffidence and apprehensions in him who has the honour to be placed in it. He must be sensible how much will depend upon his conduct in the infancy of a study, which is now first adopted by public academical authority; which has generally been reputed (however unjustly) of a dry and unfruitful nature; and of which the theoretical elementary parts, have hitherto received a very moderate share of cultivation. He cannot but reflect that, if either his plan of instruction be crude and injudicious, or the execution of it lame and superficial, it will cast a damp upon the farther progress of this most useful and most rational branch of learning; and may defeat for a time the public-spirited design of our wise and munificent benefactor. And this he must more especially dread, when he feels by experience how unequal his abilities are (unassisted by preceding examples) to complete, in the manner he could wish, so extensive and arduous a task; since he freely confesses, that his former more private attempts have fallen very short of his own ideas of perfection. And yet the candour he has already experienced, and this last transcendent mark of regard, his present nomination by the free and unanimous suffrage of a great and learned university, (an honour to be ever remembered with the deepest and most affectionate gratitude,) these testimonies of your public judgment must entirely supersede his own, and forbid him to believe himself totally insufficient for the labour at least of this employment. One thing he will venture to hope for, and it certainly shall be his constant aim, by diligence and attention to atone for his other defects: esteeming, that the best return which he can possibly make for your favourable opinion of his capacity, will be his unwearied endeavours in some little degree to deserve it.

On a related note, Blackstone Trial Analytics is now open for utility maximization business.


The Middle Way

Blackstone Trial Analytics hopes to reconcile two reasonable world views: Trial output is highly heterogeneous and trial output is intelligible. This conflict is ably summarized by two partisans in particular on one of my favorite Yahoo! Answers entries:


Thanks for your question. That is a more difficult question than you might expect. A win / loss record really refers to the lawyer’s success rate. However, what is defined as success in any given case will be defined by its particular circumstances. In a criminal defense case, for example, a successful outcome is not always defined as an acquittal. In some cases an acquittal is near impossible. However, that does not mean that the case cannot be dealt with with a “successful” result.

For example, a client with a long criminal record facing another charge where the case against him is overwhelming may define success as any outcome that does not result in jail time — a result that may be very difficult to achieve. Or what about the lawyer who tries a case, receives a terrible legal ruling, resulting in a conviction, and then has that loss later overturned on appeal?

Or what if the jury returns a verdict of not guilty for two counts, but guilty on another count, or even on a lesser included offense?

Although it may not be possible to get an acquittal in every case, the lawyer may be “successful” in helping the client attain his goal. Is such an outcome a win or a loss? In the examples above, both the lawyer and client may consider it a win. What if the lawyer considered it a loss even though he helped his client attain the desired outcome?


You guys are a bunch of f[uc]king A[ss]holes.. The question was simple but you got your emotion all tied up in knots. I’ve got [news for] you B[i]tches. “You are what you record says you are” I don’t care what you think. I want a winner!!! and if that attorney has never lost I want them on my team. Simple concept.