Arnaud Philippe, “Do jurors and professional judges differ in their treatment of crime?: Evidence from French reform”, TSE Working Paper, n. 17-763, February 2017.
Do citizens and professional judges agree on the accuracy of sentences? While surveys regularly point out a demand by citizens for harsher punishment, the differences between surveys’ and real decisions’ conditions are large enough to cast a doubt on the results. The introduction of two jurors into a court composed of three professional judges in two French regions and for a subsample of crimes in 2012 offers a good natural experiment for documenting the question of the differences between professional judges and citizens. Difference-in-differences or tripledifference methods do not permit me to identify any change in the probability of being convicted or in sentences given by a court including jurors. If some characteristics of the reform could partly explain those null results, they clearly go against the hypothesis of a major disagreement between professional judges and citizens when they have to make real decisions in criminal cases.