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Fairness and the Willingness to Accept Plea Bargain Offers
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies (2010)
  • Oren Gazal-Ayal
  • Avishalom Tor, Faculty of Law
  • Stephen m. Garcia

In contrast with the typical assumption in plea bargaining law and economics, we show defendants may reject plea offers based on fairness considerations. Specifically, offers where the sanction clearly appears excessive for the crime ("substantively unfair") and offers that appear inferior to those received by others in similar cases ("comparatively unfair") diminish defendants' wiliingness to accept plea offers (WTAP). Part 1 analyzes real-world data in Study 1 and reviews early experiments, all of which sugget substantive fairness impacts WTAP but do not control for important confounds. Part 2 therefore presents Studies 2-4 that confirm the independent impact of substantive fairness. Part 3 then explores the evidence on comparative evaluations of fairness and presents Study 5 that confirms their indepensent effect on WTAP. Study 6 further shows substantive and comparative fairness can impact WTAP simultaneously and independently. Part 4 concludes, showing our findings require both supporters and detractors of plea bargaining to reexamine their positions.

  • Plea Barganing,
  • Wrongful Convictions,
  • Emprical Legal Studies
Publication Date
June, 2010
Citation Information
Oren Gazal-Ayal, Avishalom Tor and Stephen m. Garcia. "Fairness and the Willingness to Accept Plea Bargain Offers" Journal of Empirical Legal Studies Vol. 7 Iss. 1 (2010)
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