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Articles 1 - 16 of 16

Full-Text Articles in Law

Blaming As A Social Process: The Influence Of Character And Moral Emotion On Blame, Janice Nadler Jan 2012

Blaming As A Social Process: The Influence Of Character And Moral Emotion On Blame, Janice Nadler

Faculty Working Papers

For the most part, the law eschews the role of moral character in legal blame. But when we observe an actor who causes harm, legal and psychological blame processes are in tension. Procedures for legal blame assume an assessment of the actor's mental state, and ultimately of responsibility, that is independent of the moral character of the actor. In this paper, I present experimental evidence to suggest that perceptions of intent, foreseeability, and possibly causation can be colored by independent reasons for thinking the actor is a bad person, and are mediated by the experience of negative moral emotion ...


What Will We Lose If The Trial Vanishes?, Robert P. Burns Jan 2011

What Will We Lose If The Trial Vanishes?, Robert P. Burns

Faculty Working Papers

The number of trials continues to decline andfederal civil trials have almost completely disappeared. This essay attempts to address the significance of this loss, to answer the obvious question, "So what?" It argues against taking a resigned or complacent attitude toward an important problem for our public culture. It presents a short description of the trial's internal structure, recounts different sorts of explanations, and offers an inventory of the kinds of wounds this development would inflict.


Moral Character, Motive, And The Psychology Of Blame, Janice Nadler, Mary-Hunter Morris Mcdonnell Jan 2011

Moral Character, Motive, And The Psychology Of Blame, Janice Nadler, Mary-Hunter Morris Mcdonnell

Faculty Working Papers

Blameworthiness, in the criminal law context, is conceived as the carefully calculated end product of discrete judgments about a transgressor's intentionality, causal proximity to harm, and the harm's foreseeability. Research in social psychology, on the other hand, suggests that blaming is often intuitive and automatic, driven by a natural impulsive desire to express and defend social values and expectations. The motivational processes that underlie psychological blame suggest that judgments of legal blame are influenced by factors the law does not always explicitly recognize or encourage. In this Article we focus on two highly related motivational processes – the desire ...


An Economic Analysis Of Fact Witness Payment, Eugene Kontorovich, Ezra Friedman Jan 2011

An Economic Analysis Of Fact Witness Payment, Eugene Kontorovich, Ezra Friedman

Faculty Working Papers

In this paper we discuss the disparate treatment of perceptual (''fact'') witnesses and expert witnesses in the legal system. We highlight the distinction between the perceptual act of witnessing and the act of testifying, and argue that although there might be good reasons to regulate payments to fact witnesses, the customary prohibition on paying them for their services is not justified by reference to economic theory. We propose considering a court mediated system for compensating fact witnesses so as to encourage witnessing of legally important events.We construct a simple model of witness incentives, and simulate the effects of several ...


If The Shoe Fits They Might Acquit: The Value Of Forensic Science Testimony, Jonathan Koehler Jan 2011

If The Shoe Fits They Might Acquit: The Value Of Forensic Science Testimony, Jonathan Koehler

Faculty Working Papers

The probative value of forensic science evidence (such as a shoeprint) varies widely depending on how the evidence and hypothesis of interest is characterized. This paper uses a likelihood ratio (LR) approach to identify the probative value of forensic science evidence. It argues that the "evidence" component should be characterized as a "reported match," and that the hypothesis component should be characterized as "the matching person or object is the source of the crime scene sample." This characterization of the LR forces examiners to incorporate risks from sample mix-ups and examiner error into their match statistics. But how will legal ...


Proficiency Tests To Estimate Error Rates In The Forensic Sciences, Jonathan Koehler Jan 2011

Proficiency Tests To Estimate Error Rates In The Forensic Sciences, Jonathan Koehler

Faculty Working Papers

A proficiency test is an assessment of the performance of laboratory personnel using samples whose sources are known to the proficiency test administrator but unknown to the examinee. Proficiency tests can help identify reasonable first pass estimates for the rates at which various types of errors occur. It is crucial to obtain error rate estimates because the reliability and probative value of forensic science evidence is inextricably linked to the rates at which examiners make errors. Without such information, legal decision makers have no scientifically meaningful way of thinking about the risk of false identification and false non-identification associated with ...


The Need For A Research Culture In The Forensic Sciences, Jonathan Koehler, Jennifer L. Mnookin, Simon A. Cole, Barry A.J. Fisher, Itiel E. Dror, Max Houck, Kieth Inman, David H. Kaye, Glenn Langenburg, D. Michel Risinger, Norah Rudin, Jay Siegel Jan 2011

The Need For A Research Culture In The Forensic Sciences, Jonathan Koehler, Jennifer L. Mnookin, Simon A. Cole, Barry A.J. Fisher, Itiel E. Dror, Max Houck, Kieth Inman, David H. Kaye, Glenn Langenburg, D. Michel Risinger, Norah Rudin, Jay Siegel

Faculty Working Papers

The methods, techniques, and reliability of the forensic sciences in general, and the pattern identification disciplines in particular, have faced significant scrutiny in recent years. Critics have attacked the scientific basis for the assumptions and claims made by forensic scientists both in and out of the courtroom. Defenders have emphasized courts' long-standing acceptance of forensic science evidence, the relative dearth of known errors, and the skill and experience of practitioners. This Article reflects an effort made by a diverse group of participants in these debates, including law professors, academics from several disciplines, and practicing forensic scientists, to find and explore ...


Individualization Claims In Forensic Science: Still Unwarranted, Jonathan Koehler, Michael J. Saks Jan 2010

Individualization Claims In Forensic Science: Still Unwarranted, Jonathan Koehler, Michael J. Saks

Faculty Working Papers

In a 2008 paper published in the Vanderbilt Law Review entitled "The Individualization Fallacy in Forensic Science Evidence," we argued that no scientific basis exists for the proposition that forensic scientists can "individualize" an unknown marking (such as a fingerprint, tire track, or handwriting sample) to a particular person or object to the exclusion of all others in the world. In this special issue of the Brooklyn Law Review, we clarify, refine, and extend some of the ideas presented in Fallacy. Some of the refinements are prompted by Professor David Kaye's paper, also in this issue of the Review ...


Hearings, Mark Spottswood Jan 2010

Hearings, Mark Spottswood

Faculty Working Papers

This article explores a constantly recurring procedural question: When is fact-finding improved by a live hearing, and when would it be better to rely on a written record? Unfortunately, when judges, lawyers, and rulemakers consider this issue, they are led astray by the widely shared—but false—assumption that a judge can best determine issues of credibility by viewing the demeanor of witnesses while they are testifying. In fact, a large body of scientific evidence indicates that judges are more likely to be deceived by lying or mistaken witnesses when observing their testimony in person than if the judges were ...


The Death Of The American Trial, Robert P. Burns Jan 2009

The Death Of The American Trial, Robert P. Burns

Faculty Working Papers

This short essay is a summary of my assessment of the meaning of the "vanishing trial" phenomenon. It addresses the obvious question: "So what?" It first briefly reviews the evidence of the trial's decline. It then sets out the steps necessary to understand the political and social signficance of our vastly reducing the trial's importance among our modes of social ordering. The essay serves as the Introduction to a book, The Death of the American Trial, soon to be published by the University of Chicago Press.


The Language Of Consent In Police Encounters, Janice Nadler, J.D. Trout Jan 2009

The Language Of Consent In Police Encounters, Janice Nadler, J.D. Trout

Faculty Working Papers

In this chapter, we examine the nature of conversations in citizen-police encounters in which police seek to conduct a search based on the citizen's consent. We argue that when police officers ask a person if they can search, citizens often feel enormous pressure to say yes. But judges routinely ignore these pressures, choosing instead to spotlight the politeness and restraint of the officers' language and demeanor. Courts often analyze the language of police encounters as if the conversation has an obvious, context-free meaning. The pragmatic features of language influence behavior, but courts routinely ignore or deny this fact. Instead ...


Two Ways To Think About The Punishment Of Corporations, Albert Alschuler Jan 2009

Two Ways To Think About The Punishment Of Corporations, Albert Alschuler

Faculty Working Papers

This article compares the criminal punishment of corporations in the twenty-first century with two ancient legal practices—deodand (the punishment of animals and objects that have produced harm) and frankpledge (the punishment of all members of a group when one member of the group has avoided apprehension for a crime). It argues that corporate criminal punishment is a mistake but that viewing it as frankpledge is less ridiculous than viewing it as deodand. The article considers the implications of the choice between these concepts for standards of corporate guilt and for the sentencing of corporate offenders. After a brief historical ...


Coordinating In The Shadow Of The Law: Two Contextualized Tests Of The Focal Point Theory Of Legal Compliance, Richard H. Mcadams, Janice Nadler Jan 2008

Coordinating In The Shadow Of The Law: Two Contextualized Tests Of The Focal Point Theory Of Legal Compliance, Richard H. Mcadams, Janice Nadler

Faculty Working Papers

In situations where people have an incentive to coordinate their behavior, law can provide a framework for understanding and predicting what others are likely to do. According to the focal point theory of expressive law, the law's articulation of a behavior can sometimes create self-fulfilling expectations that it will occur. Existing theories of legal compliance emphasize the effect of sanctions or legitimacy; we argue that, in addition to sanctions and legitimacy, law can also influence compliance simply by making one outcome salient. We tested this claim in two experiments where sanctions and legitimacy were held constant. Experiment 1 demonstrated ...


Law, Psychology & Morality, Kenworthey Bilz, Janice Nadler Jan 2008

Law, Psychology & Morality, Kenworthey Bilz, Janice Nadler

Faculty Working Papers

In a democratic society, law is an important means to express, manipulate, and enforce moral codes. Demonstrating empirically that law can achieve moral goals is difficult. Nevertheless, public interest groups spend considerable energy and resources to change the law with the goal of changing not only morally-laden behaviors, but also morally-laden cognitions and emotions. Additionally, even when there is little reason to believe that a change in law will lead to changes in behavior or attitudes, groups see the law as a form of moral capital that they wish to own, to make a statement about society. Examples include gay ...


Out To Lunch: Saks & Koehler Reply To Rudin & Imman's Commentary, Jonathan Koehler Jan 2007

Out To Lunch: Saks & Koehler Reply To Rudin & Imman's Commentary, Jonathan Koehler

Faculty Working Papers

At several points in their comment on our article in Science (1), Rudin & Inman (2, 3) asserted or clearly implied that we had been dishonest in our presentation. In each of those instances Rudin & Inman's charges are groundless, as we demonstrate below.

Had Rudin & Inman examined the actual source [see Fig. 1, right], they would have discovered that the words were indeed those of Moenssens, that they were consistent with the context in which they appeared, that Moenssens was not quoting Zain or anyone else, and that Saks & Koehler had accurately attributed the statement to its author, Andre Moenssens.


Questions About Forensic Science: Response, Jonathan Koehler Jan 2006

Questions About Forensic Science: Response, Jonathan Koehler

Faculty Working Papers

THE ESSENTIAL MESSAGE OF OUR REVIEW WAS that forensic individualization/identification science is on course for a "paradigm shift" in which its future will be more scientifically grounded than its past.

Harmon and Budowle take issue with the simple point that traditional forensic science assumes that markings produced by different people and objects are observably different. The notion of uniqueness is widespread in forensic science writing, thinking, and practice. We added the qualifier "discernible" to the uniqueness assumption to indicate that criminalists do not refer to uniqueness in the abstract or as a metaphysical property. They mean that conclusions about ...