Judicial Input Into the Model of Sentencing
In the early stages of this study, the argument was made that to develop detailed sentencing statistics it would be necessary to develop a model of judicial decision making for the purpose of construing the relationship between case facts and sentence. The preceding analyses in the archival burglary study were based on a model of judicial decision making that I developed. To construct this, I was forced to intuit the definitions, weights, and aggregation rules that judges apply to case factors as they determine the sentence for a case. I accomplished this principally by attempting to capture the general trends in sentencing policy found through reading sentencing judgments in the courts of first instance and the appellate courts, as well as systematic academic analyses of these judgments. When one attempts to use legal analyses to quantify decision making, one really comes to appreciate how vague they are in relation to quantitative standards. Indeed, they are characteristically imprecise or silent about the definition of material case factors, as well as their weights and the rules for combining them (see Ashworth, 1983a, 1984). For example, consider the matter of weighting the four offense characteristics in the burglary study. The only guidance that could be discerned from the appellate court judgments was that extreme forms of each of these offense characteristics have been mentioned where the courts have stressed the gravity of particular cases. Consequently, there seemed to be no grounds for discriminating between the potential importance of these four factors, and accordingly they were weighted equally. This line of reasoning is admittedly tenuous (see Chapter 4).
KeywordsDecision Maker Conjoint Analysis Aggregation Rule Judicial Decision Cognitive Error
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