Empirical legal studies’ impact was on display last week in the Supreme Court’s death penalty decision, Glossip v. Gross. In particular, there is a lively back and forth among Breyer (joined by Ginsburg) in dissent, and the concurrences of Scalia and Thomas with no fewer than three JELS articles cited.
Suffice to say, Breyer and Ginsburg find the empirical evidence of problematic capital punishment application compelling, Thomas counters with questions about methods, and Scalia summarizes much of the scholarship as “abolitionist.” The link to the opinion is here. Cited article links follow.
“An Empirical Evaluation of the Connecticut Death Penalty System Since 1973, Are There Unlawful Racial, Gender, and Geographic Disparities?” by John J. Donohue III in JELS 11:4
“Frequency and Predictors of False Conviction: Why We Know So Little, and New Data on Capital Cases” by Samuel R. Gross and Barbara O'Brien in JELS 5:4
“A Broken System: The Persistent Patterns of Reversals of Death Sentences in the United States” by Andrew Gelman, James S. Liebman, Valerie West, and Alexander Kiss in JELS 1:2