Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Economics, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Gregory DeAngelo

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eric Helland

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Melissa Rogers

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2022 Minjae Yun

Subject Categories



In this thesis, I study the consequences and formation of legal rules in the “non-traditional” markets to show that non-traditional markets are fundamental to a society’s functioning. The first chapter shows how legal participants strategically behave based on judicial disqualification. The second chapter examines the unintended consequence of a decarceration policy in the criminal-justice system by linking the ex-criminal re-entry issue and homelessness. Lastly, the third chapter concentrates on how the tenure of elected law enforcement agents contributes to the jail-crowding environment, leveraging term limits imposed on local county elected officials.

The first chapter examines the use and impact of peremptory challenges against judges in the California courts. Under California law, a judge cannot preside in a case when the judge is prejudiced against a party or attorneys who are involved in the case. A “peremptory” challenge does not require an attorney to show cause, such as a judge who has a personal interest in the case, nor is it necessary for the party requesting the peremptory challenge to prove that the judge is biased. Moreover, no factual basis for the claim of bias is even required. The party simply has to state that he or she believes the judge is prejudiced against him or her and that they do not believe they can receive a fair trial. Finally, judges cannot oppose challenges made in a timely manner. Upon the filing of a peremptory-challenge motion, the judge loses control of the case, and any rulings are voided. The major difference with peremptory challenges in juries is that in the case of judges, each side of the case is allowed only one peremptory challenge. This work bases the decision to challenge on the likelihood a potential replacement judge who could be randomly assigned the case if the attorney challenges the judge is more likely to be favorable to the challenger side of the case. The results show that peremptory challenges are used strategically to remove judges when the replacement is more likely to be against the opponent’s preferences in terms of ideology or past rulings on motions.

The second chapter examines the effect of re-sentencing policies as a means of decarceration on community well-being. In 2011 and 2014, California passed jail decarceration policies, AB 109 and Prop 47, respectively. AB 109 reallocated state prison inmates into local county jails. On the other hand, Prop 47 reduced penalties for non-serious property crimes, thereby providing a second chance for offenders who committed specific non-violent crimes, while lowering the burden on county jails by shifting offenders into local communities. My results indicate that Prop 47 increased the homeless population and health-related governmental spending but did not reduce governmental spending on corrections. Furthermore, California jail-disposition data show heterogeneous effects on recidivism. For example, Prop 47 decreased recidivism rates for Prop 47 charges (non-serious and non-violent charges) after AB 109 increased the rates in county jails. However, Prop 47 failed to lower recidivism rates for control-group charges (more severe than Prop 47 charges) after AB 109 raised these rates in county jails. Finally, I find that Prop 47 raised non-violent crime rates, utilizing Los Angeles crime data, especially among non-homeless offenders.

The third chapter strives to find the cause of jail and prison overcrowding. Calls for criminal justice reform have become commonplace, as issues ranging from ethnic and racial bias in policing to prison overcrowding have taken center stage in many policy discussions. The demand for change in the criminal justice system largely falls on the shoulders of leadership within the criminal justice system who might have their own preferences toward criminal justice reform. This work examines the issue of sheriff tenure on jail occupancy rates, as jails are directly managed by the sheriff and capacity issues in jails have resulted not only in safety and security problems for inmates and staff but also in fiscal stress. Utilizing a unique institutional feature - that 192 county sheriffs are limited to no more than two terms in the position - the work employs an instrumental variable identification strategy to examine the impact of sheriff tenure on jail occupancy rates.



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