Beim, Deborah, Tom S. Clark, and Benjamin E. Lauderdale, "The Effects of Panel Assignment on the US Court of Appeals in Death Penalty Cases"
We use the random assignment of three judge panels on the US Court of Appeals to measure the preferences of individual judges for granting relief in death penalty appeals, and how they are aggregated into decisions. We provide evidence that judges on the US Court of Appeals for the 5th, 6th, 9th, and 11th Circuits apply highly inconsistent thresholds for relief from death penalty sentences. We will also examine ultimate effects of random panel assignment on whether and when appellants are executed and quantify the consequences of inconsistency in death penalty appeals.
Clark, Tom S., B. Pablo Montagnes, and Jörg L. Spenkuch, "Politics from the Bench? Ideology and Strategic Voting in the Us Supreme Court"
Supreme Court justices often vote along ideological lines. Is this due to a genuinely different interpretation of the law, or does it reflect justices' desire to re- solve politically-charged legal questions in accordance with their personal views? To study this question, we differentiate between votes that were pivotal and those that were not. We find that, when a justice's choice determines the outcome of a case, her ideology plays an even greater role in determining her decision|both relative to her choices on other cases and relative to other justices voting on the same case. The data allow us to reject theories of sincere voting as well as explanations according to which ambiguous signals about the merits of a case force justices to fall back on ideology as a form of tie breaker. Our counterfactuals suggest that "politics from the bench" determines the outcome of approximately 8% of 5-4 splits.
Cohen, Elisha, Anna Gunderson, Kaylyn Jackson, Paul Zachary, Tom S. Clark, Adam Glynn, and Michael Leo Owens, “Do Officer-Involved Shootings Reduce Citizen Contact with Government?”
Police use of force bears on central matters of political science, including equality of citizen interactions with government. In light of recent high-profile officer-involved shootings that resulted in deaths of civilians, we assess whether, conditional on an officer-involved shooting, a civilian's race predicts fatality during police-civilian interactions. We employ data on officer-involved shootings in Los Angeles with a novel research design to estimate the causal effects of fatal shootings on civic behavior, namely citizen-initiated contact with local government. Specifically, we examine whether fatal shootings affect citizen contact with the city government via use of the emergency 911 and non-emergency 311 calls system in Los Angeles. We find no effect of OIS on patterns of 311 and 911 call behavior, across a wide range of empirical specifications. Our results suggest, contrary to existing evidence, that an OIS does not substantively change civilian behavior, at least not citizen-initiated contact with local government.
Cohen, Elisha, Anna Gunderson, Kaylyn Jackson, Tom S. Clark, Adam Glynn, and Michael Leo Owens, “Does Military Aid to Police Decrease Crime? Counterevidence from the Federal 1033 Program and Local Police Jurisdictions in the United States“
In recent decades, the profile of American policing has changed. Driven by federal grants-in-aid programs for local law enforcement agencies to acquire surplus military equipment, policing has militarized, from its physical appearance to its tactical operations. Recent studies of police militarization in the United States, focusing on the 1033 Program of the U.S. Department of Defense, report that it reduces crime and may have other positive benefits for law enforcement and order maintenance. Unfortunately, those findings rely on flawed data and fragile empirical specifications. using newly-available data, we replicate two prominent econometric studies. Our results challenge the validity of extant evidence that police militarization reduces crime at the local level.