Judge, jury, and EXEcute file


As early as the 1970s, computerized legal research services began to transform legal practice. Automated search through legal databases eventually gave way to automated search through digital document evidence. And most recently, legal automation is taking over contract review and drafting. In the courts, we have even begun to see the use of algorithms in decisions about whether to grant bail or parole. This paper discusses the prospects for automating decisions in the legal system. I will discuss active research on decision prediction models for judges and prosecutors and how these algorithms might be used to detect and reduce bias in legal decision-making. I will also discuss the substantial risks for these algorithms to replicate existing biases in the system or create new ones. Along the way, I will discuss the role that incentives theory and econometrics can play in understanding and mitigating these risks. This paper was written by Elliott Ash, Assistant Professor of Economics at University of Warwick in conjunction with the SMF and CAGE briefing event of the same name.

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