Throughout the Americas, prominent politicians often find themselves before the courts over corruption charges. The prosecution of corruption is central to political accountability – voters can only hold politicians accountable if the process of judging politicians’ past actions is fair and produces information that voters trust. Partisan capture of the judiciary results instead in corruption probes that are manipulated to serve electoral interests. Despite the importance of the judicial oversight of corruption, we know little about what guides the behavior of the politicians and judicial actors who intervene in these processes. We aim to understand why, when, and with what consequences corruption becomes judicialized; the extent to which the law becomes weaponized by rival political factions; and the role played by the media in publicizing these judicial battles. Empirically, we focus on Argentina – a country that has seen a large number of corruption probes enter the federal court in the past decade – where we plan to leverage a combination of natural experiments based on institutional features of the federal judiciary, original datasets on the court’s docket using newly available data, and a novel measure of judges’ political alignment.
Assistant Professor, Princeton University
Assistant Professor, Universidad de San Andrés