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Justice More Lenient After Lunch

By on April 30, 2011 in Legal Filing

William Hogarth – The Bench, 1758

The quality of judges’ decision-making varies throughout the day, a recent study has suggested

The authors looked at over 1,000 parole cases dealt by eight Israeli judges over 10 months and found that parole was far more likely to be granted at certain times of the day and of each session than others.

In particular, judges were much more likely to accept requests for parole at the beginning of the day than at the end. In addition, parole was more likely to be granted at the beginning of one of the three daily sessions, for instance straight after lunch. All eight judges followed this pattern.

Particularities of each case, such as the severity of the crime and the length of the sentence, were factored in.

The study’s authors suggest that as sessions and the day proceeds, the judges become mentally fatigued. The more fatigued they are, the more likely they are to simplify their decisions. Denying parole – i.e. maintaining the status quo – is the easier decision.

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