Charlie Buttrey

May 6, 2022

A tip of the hat for this particular item goes to a regular reader whose blog I, in turn, read regularly.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Economics made an unsettling discovery: Justice may not be equal when it comes to judges who received their college degrees from schools with prominent football programs.

I am not making this up.

The study analyzed the effect of emotional shocks associated with an unexpected loss by a college football team (in this instance, the team was LSU; about half of the judges attended law school at LSU, and about a third received their bachelor’s degrees there).  During the week following the upset loss, judges who had emotional ties to LSU imposed sentences that were harsher than normal.  The reverse, however, was not true: On those occasions when LSU scored an upset victory, or when LSU lost a game it was expected to lose, there was no commensurate benefit to the defendant.

And the impact of the harsher sentences fell disproportionately on the Black defendants.

You can access the full study HERE.

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