Holiday Cheer in Sentencing?

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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It puts me in a good mood. I suspect that certain holidays put other people — like judges — in a good mood, too. And there’s some evidence that judges’ sentencing decisions are influenced by factors similar to mood, like the widely-reported study showing that tired judges deny parole more often than rested ones, and this study showing that judges nearing an election impose longer sentences than judges near the beginning of their terms.

I couldn’t quickly find a study that addresses whether judges tend to impose more lenient sentences around the holidays. (If you know of one, please let me know. As an aside, I did find this 1946 newspaper article entitled Birthday, Christmas Make Judge Lenient.) In lieu of directly relevant data, I thought I’d conduct a survey. So, readers, weigh in below. And have a fantastic couple of days off.

On balance, compared to the sentences imposed at other times of the year, the sentences imposed by judges around the holidays are:

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