Yu-Hsien Sung

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Brad Epperly

Second Advisor

Tobias Heinrich


This dissertation addresses three fundamental questions regarding the politics of prosecutorial behavior. Specifically, it examines how the selectors of prosecutors influence prosecutorial decision-making under different selection methods, including electionbased systems and appointment-based systems. By using a political responsiveness framework and utilizing empirical strategies, including an experiment and the construction of prosecutor policy position data, this study offers novel insights into the subject. First, I find that voters care about prosecutors’ issue positions and rely on various cues to identify candidates whose policy positions align with their preferences, even in low-information elections. Second, elections show promise as a mechanism for holding elected prosecutors accountable, with a stronger connection between prosecutors and public preferences observed under high electoral pressure. Third, the governor’s selection effect shapes the policy alignment between prosecutors and political elites in appointment-based systems.


© 2023, Yu-Hsien Sung