Deborah Beim, Tom S Clark and Benjamin E Lauderdale, “Republican-Majority Appellate Panels Increase Execution Rates for Capital Defendants”, forthcoming Journal of Politics
We use the quasi-random assignment of cases to three-judge panels on the US Courts of Appeals to assess the consistency of adjudication of death penalty appeals. We find clear evidence that panels apply different standards depending on whether a majority of the panel was appointed by Democratic or Republican presidents. Unlike previous work on panel effects in the US Courts of Appeals, we show that these effects persist to the end of the process of adjudication. Since the the early 1980s, the probability of ultimate execution has been increased for inmates when their first Court of Appeals case was assigned to a panel with a majority of Republican appointees.