Deborah Beim, Tom S Clark and Benjamin E Lauderdale, “Random Assignment to Death”
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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, across the US as a whole, the probability of ultimate execution has depended on the judges that were assigned to an inmate’s first Court of Appeals case.