Judges, bribes, and verdicts: How court experience reshapes attitudes about judicial corruption among Morocco’s most marginalized

When do citizens believe in corruption’s effectiveness? Using an original, nationally representative survey of 1201 Moroccan respondents, this article highlights the conditions under which citizens affirm (or deny) the importance of corruption to getting favourable decisions from public officials. Specifically, the survey centres on judicial corruption, finding that 76 per cent of citizens agree that bribing judges produces favourable verdicts. Confirming pre-existing research, this article demonstrates that citizens facing greater material and immaterial marginalization – the poor, the undereducated, and ethnic minorities – were more likely to affirm bribery’s effectiveness. Yet, it makes a novel contribution by highlighting the role of personal court experience, and how it interacts with a citizen’s material marginalization. When taking into account their personal court experiences, poor citizens became no more or less likely than other citizens to affirm bribery’s effectiveness in courts. This finding underscores the need to disaggregate direct personal experiences from indirect perceptions when assessing how poor citizens form attitudes about public institutions. It also suggests, preliminarily, that regime initiatives to improve public institutions and courts serving poor Moroccans may have achieved some limited success.

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