Manna from Heaven for Judges: Judges’ Reaction to a Quasi-Random Reduction in Caseload

Christoph Engel*, Keren Weinshall

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


What is the impact of caseload on judicial decision making? Is increasing judicial staff effective in improving judicial services? To address these questions, we exploit a natural, near-randomized experiment in the Israeli judiciary. In 2012, six senior registrars were appointed in two of the six magistrate's court districts. The choice of districts was motivated by reasons unrelated to judicial performance. In these two districts, the civil caseload per judge was substantially reduced. We find that the reduction had a significant impact on the process and outcomes of judicial decision making. Judges working in courts with reduced caseload invested more resources in resolving each case. The effect is mostly to the advantage of plaintiffs, who were more likely to win, recover a larger fraction of their claims, and be reimbursed for litigation costs. We discuss the implications for judicial management and theories about judicial decision making.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)722-751
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Empirical Legal Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies published by Cornell Law School and Wiley Periodicals LLC.


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