In studies of the legal system investigators may collect information about cases within a study window and compile statistical information about their outcomes. Because there is frequently a long delay between the start time for cases and their resolution, a significant number of cases may be pending at the close of the study window. If there is a correlation between the outcome variable and being censored, exclusion of censored cases may bias the analysis in the sense that the reported outcomes will be systematically different from what would be reported if all the censored cases were followed to completion and included in the data. A prime example, which we will use to illustrate our approach, is the landmark study of reversals in death penalty cases in the state courts that was authored by a team led by Professor James S. Liebman of Columbia Law School. Two equivalent ways of estimating outcome rates accounting for the censored cases is the subject of this article.
Finkelstein, Michael O. ; Levin, Bruce; McKeague, Ian W.; and Tsai, Wei-Yann, "A Note on the Censoring Problem in Empirical Case-Outcome Studies" (March 2006). Columbia University Biostatistics Technical Report Series. Working Paper 1.