19 April 2011

"Your honor, can we continue this case after a lunch break?"

From Not Exactly Rocket Science, a summary of a report examining the relationship of food on judicial decisions:
The graph above is... the work of Shai Danziger from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and summarises the results of 1,112 parole board hearings in Israeli prisons, over a ten month period. The vertical axis is the proportion of cases where the judges granted parole. The horizontal axis shows the order in which the cases were heard during the day. And the dotted lines, they represent the points where the judges went away for a morning snack and their lunch break.

The graph is dramatic. It shows that the odds that prisoners will be successfully paroled start off fairly high at around 65% and quickly plummet to nothing over a few hours (although, see footnote). After the judges have returned from their breaks, the odds abruptly climb back up to 65%, before resuming their downward slide. A prisoner’s fate could hinge upon the point in the day when their case is heard.

These rulings were made by eight Jewish-Israeli judges, with an average of 22 years of judging behind them. Their verdicts represented 40% of all parole requests in the country during the ten months. Every day, each judge considers between 14 and 35 cases, spending around 6 minutes on each decision. They take two food breaks that divide their day into three sessions. All of these details, from the decision to the times of the breaks, are duly recorded.
Much more at the link.


  1. Wow. Biology trumps logic, yet again. I wonder if/how this could be compensated for.

  2. Hmm! I guess if I were up for parole, I'd like to have court held in a room with an ongoing and ever present buffet.

  3. However, the easy straight forward cases are often heard first to get them out of the way. Then the complicated or more serious hearings are heard later so they can allot more time to them. So it may not be food, but how they schedule the tough hearings

  4. I'd definutely hire a caterer for my hearing.


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