Hungry, Hungry Judges

Photo: ssalonso

If you’re going to court, you better hope that judge had breakfast. Or just a break. A new study looked into psychological effects in the courtroom from the supply side: the judges. Researchers evaluated results from more than 1,000 rulings made by 8 Israeli judges and found that favorable rulings peaked at the beginning of the day, then again after lunch or a food break:

We find that the percentage of favorable rulings drops gradually from [about] 65% to nearly zero within each decision session and returns abruptly to [about] 65% after a break. Our findings suggest that judicial rulings can be swayed by extraneous variables that should have no bearing on legal decisions.

Jonathan Levav, an associate professor at Columbia Business School and one of the authors of the paper, told the Guardian: “You are anywhere between two and six times as likely to be released if you’re one of the first three prisoners considered versus the last three prisoners considered.”

Andrew Telesca

Did they control for any other factors? For example, do judges actually setup the order of hearings based on any variables that might impact the likelihood of a favorable ruling?


Didn't we already know this from The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia?

The judge said guilty on a make believe trial
slapped the sheriff on the back with a smile
and said supper's waiting at home and i gotta get to it


Or judges only bring in easy open-and-shut cases right before break-time...

Evan Sorem

This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Percentage of favorable rulings before a judge kinda depends on what side of the case you are on. Having been a lawyer for 15 years, one party has received a favorable ruling every single time I've been in front of a judge....


My thoughts exactly. And IANAL!


For further information, you can go to the following site:

It mentions that the judges were not setting the order of the cases. It also mentions that the study was done on parole hearings, so in that way, when viewing it as the potential "parolee" versus the board, you can think of it as the person winning or losing.

I'm neither a judge or a lawyer. It just answers some of the earlier comments.