Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Judgements on an Empty Stomach

Fortunately I have won a lot more cases than I have lost over the years - otherwise maybe it would be worth thinking of another career - but on the occasions I have lost, clients have sometimes suggested to me that maybe the judge had 'got out of the wrong side of the bed today' or 'not had a good breakfast'. It would have been too flippant for me to accept these as valid reasons rather than any weakness in my argument or its presentation, but some recent research quoted in The Times recently, suggests that these clients may have had a point.

Two researchers in Israel looked at more than 1,000 decisions by 8 judges over a 10 month period. The judges worked for 3 sessions a day, with a morning snack break (more than UK judges get methinks) and a lunch break. The researchers found that at the beginning of each session, a Defendant had a 65% chance of avoiding imprisonment, declining to almost zero before the end of the session and then raising again to 65% at the start of the next session. As the brilliant QC David Pannick says in his Times column, this is 'food for thought'!

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