Responsive justice? Retention elections, prosecutors, and public opinion

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22 Scopus citations


Do elected judges and prosecutors change their behavior to reflect public opinion after they receive information about constituent preferences? In this article I use a unique measure of public opinion—votes on an initiative to legalize marijuana—to examine the responsiveness of prosecutors and trial court judges to a strong, issue-specific, constituency-level opinion signal. I find that, at least in recent drug cases in Colorado, both prosecutors and judges changed their sentencing behavior after receiving that signal. Prosecutors responded only to local-level opinion, while judges responded to both local and statewide opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-152
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of Law and Courts
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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