Bias in Seattle Municipal Court Bail Setting: A Quantitative Assessment of Influence on Judicial Bail Decisions, Kate Daugherty, UG '23, (3965149)
Although sociological research has found racial bias in bail assignment, prosecutorial influence on a judge’s bail decision remains largely unexplored. Existing literature suggests other forms of bias based on a defendant’s age and gender may be present. Using observational data from court watch efforts in Seattle Municipal Court, I constructed three multivariate linear regressions to investigate determinants of judge bail decision. Independent variables include the prosecutor’s bail recommendation as well as characteristics of the defendant that may provoke bias. I hypothesized that the race, age, and gender of the defendant as well as the prosecutor’s recommendation would be significant variables that influence judges’ bail decision. I find statistically significant heterogeneity at the 10% level in judge decisions by defendant age and gender as well as statistically significant heterogeneity at the 1% level by prosecutor recommendation. Future research and a larger sample are needed for further investigation into race. My findings suggest that for similarly situated defendants, judges are susceptible to prosecutor influence regarding magnitude of bail.