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Does the Eighth Amendment Turn on the Size of Your R-Squared?

Dave Hoffman

Dave Hoffman is a James E. Beasley Professor of Law at Temple Law School. He specializes in law and psychology, contracts, and quantitative analysis of civil procedure. He currently teaches contracts, civil procedure, corporations, and law and economics.

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3 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Apropos of “can a constitutional question of this magnitude turn on econometric rabbit-holes?,” wave after wave of clerks will come from law school with econometrics and other L&E doctrine freshly in their brains. When you teach them L&E-style analysis do you also teach them when to shut it down? What kind of discrimination do you teach students in applying economics to law?

    My impression from journal articles and from L&E textbooks like Cooter & Ulen is that lawyers are far more credulous about the power of economics than economists even. (I’ve seen much more extensive critiques of the Coase theorem in environmental econ texts, e.g.) Does it literally take a life-and-death case to make L&E’s possible drawbacks evident?

  2. Alice Ristroph says:

    I tend to agree that the empirical evidence doesn’t tell us whether the death penalty deters, increases, or has no effect on homicides. But I think Stevens would agree with that, too. Stevens’s concurrence doesn’t claim that the evidence establishes no deterrence. Instead, he says the evidence fails to establish deterrence. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence…

  3. Richard Bourke says:

    @Alice: Correct about Stevens’ argument; if no evidence is _statistically significant_ then no evidence exists (either way).

    It is the age old question – do you execute someone that you are 90% sure are guilty, or do you let off those you are certain 10% certain of being innocent?

    Personally I would rather 10 guilty escape death if it saves one innocent.

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