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Full-Text Articles in Evidence

The Silliness Of Magical Realism, Kevin M. Clermont Apr 2019

The Silliness Of Magical Realism, Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Relative plausibility, even after countless explanatory articles, remains an underdeveloped model bereft of underlying theory. Multivalent logic, a fully developed and accepted system of logic, comes to the same endpoint as relative plausibility. Multivalent logic would thus provide the missing theory, while it would resolve all the old problems of using traditional probability theory to explain the standards of proof as well as the new problems raised by the relative plausibility model. For example, multivalent logic resolves the infamous ‘conjunction paradox’ that traditional probability creates for itself, and which relative plausibility tries to sweep under the rug.

Yet Professors Allen ...


The Limits Of Law In The Evaluation Of Mitigating Evidence, Emad H. Atiq, Erin L. Miller Apr 2018

The Limits Of Law In The Evaluation Of Mitigating Evidence, Emad H. Atiq, Erin L. Miller

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Capital sentencers are constitutionally required to "consider" any mitigating evidence presented by the defense. Under Lockett v. Ohio and its progeny, neither statutes nor common law can exclude mitigating factors from the sentencer's consideration or place conditions on when such factors may be considered. We argue that the principle underlying this line of doctrine is broader than courts have so far recognized. A natural starting point for our analysis is judicial treatment of evidence that the defendant suffered severe environmental deprivation ("SED"), such as egregious child abuse or poverty. SED has played a central role in the Court's ...


Common Sense On Standards Of Proof, Kevin M. Clermont Jan 2018

Common Sense On Standards Of Proof, Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The law speaks clearly on the standards of proof, but listeners often misunderstand its words. This article tries, with some common sense and a modicum of multivalent logic, to explain how the law expects its standards to be applied, and then to show how the law thereby avoids such complications as the conjunction paradox.

First, in accordance with belief function theory, the factfinder should start at zero belief. Given imperfect evidence, the factfinder will end up retaining a fair amount of uncommitted belief. As evidence comes in, though, the factfinder will form a belief in the truth of the disputed ...


Trial By Numbers, Rebecca K. Helm, Valerie P. Hans, Valerie F. Reyna Oct 2017

Trial By Numbers, Rebecca K. Helm, Valerie P. Hans, Valerie F. Reyna

Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy

Legal cases often require jurors to use numerical information. They may need to evaluate the meaning of specific numbers, such as the probability of match between a suspect and a DNA sample, or they may need to arrive at a sound numerical judgment, such as a money damage award. Thus, it is important to know how jurors understand numerical information, and what steps can be taken to increase juror comprehension and appropriate application of numerical evidence. In this Article, we examine two types of juror decisions involving numbers--decisions in which jurors must convert numbers into meaning (such as by understanding ...


Cross-Examination, College Sexual-Assault Adjudications, And The Opportunity For Tuning Up The "Greatest Legal Engine Ever Invented", H. Hunter Bruton Oct 2017

Cross-Examination, College Sexual-Assault Adjudications, And The Opportunity For Tuning Up The "Greatest Legal Engine Ever Invented", H. Hunter Bruton

Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy

With its reputation as the "greatest legal engine ever invented" cross-examination rarely receives critical evaluation. This Article seeks to narrow that academic gap and offer pragmatic advice to policymakers and judges considering the in-the-trenches issues of cross-examination. Despite a great body of empirical and interdisciplinary work on cross-examination, legal scholarship often relegates discussion of cross-examination's benefits and costs to an errant footnote or a short paragraph. But cross-examination's efficacy should not be an afterthought or aside to doctrinal exegesis. Answers to the hardest questions about the presence, scope, and format of cross-examination rely on assumptions about the benefits ...


The Religion Of Alcoholics Anonymous (Aa): Applying The Clergy Privilege To Certain Aa Communications, Ari J. Diaconis Jul 2014

The Religion Of Alcoholics Anonymous (Aa): Applying The Clergy Privilege To Certain Aa Communications, Ari J. Diaconis

Cornell Law Library Prize for Exemplary Student Research Papers

In the debate about AA’s status as a religion for clergy privilege purposes, there has been a lack of accurate information.315 AA originated from among the most evangelic of Christian movements, the Oxford Group. AA’s 12 Step program is so centered on a higher power as to preclude an atheist from moving beyond Step 2, let alone complete the entire 12 Step program.

AA’s historical origins and program of recovery are so faith based as to render it a religion under virtually any First Amendment definition.Indeed, courts have already defined AA as a religion in ...


Altering Attention In Adjudication, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie Aug 2013

Altering Attention In Adjudication, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Judges decide complex cases in rapid succession but are limited by cognitive constraints. Consequently judges cannot allocate equal attention to every aspect of a case. Case outcomes might thus depend on which aspects of a case are particularly salient to the judge. Put simply, a judge focusing on one aspect of a case might reach a different outcome than a judge focusing on another. In this Article, we report the results of a series of studies exploring various ways in which directing judicial attention can shape judicial outcomes. In the first study, we show that judges impose shorter sentences when ...


Death Of Paradox: The Killer Logic Beneath The Standards Of Proof, Kevin M. Clermont Feb 2013

Death Of Paradox: The Killer Logic Beneath The Standards Of Proof, Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The prevailing but contested view of proof standards is that factfinders should determine facts by probabilistic reasoning. Given imperfect evidence, they should ask themselves what they think the chances are that the burdened party would be right if the truth were to become known; they then compare those chances to the applicable standard of proof.

I contend that for understanding the standards of proof, the modern versions of logic — in particular, fuzzy logic and belief functions — work better than classical probability. This modern logic suggests that factfinders view evidence of an imprecisely perceived and described reality to form a fuzzy ...


Convicting Lennie: Mental Retardation, Wrongful Convictions, And The Right To A Fair Trial, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Susan E. Millor Jan 2012

Convicting Lennie: Mental Retardation, Wrongful Convictions, And The Right To A Fair Trial, John H. Blume, Sheri Lynn Johnson, Susan E. Millor

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

"Lennie" refers to Lennie Small, the intellectually disabled character in John Steinbeck's famous novella Of Mice and Men, which tells the story of two Depression-era wandering farmhands, George and Lennie, who dream of getting their own stake and living "off the fat of the land." Their dream dies hard when Lennie accidently kills the young, beautiful, and flirtatious wife of a ranch owner's son and then tries to cover it up because he realizes that he has "done a bad thing." George, in turn, kills Lennie to prevent him from being lynched or tried for murder.

Lennie was ...


Life, Death, And Neuroimaging: The Advantages And Disadvantages Of The Defense's Use Of Neuroimages In Capital Cases - Lessons From The Front, John H. Blume, Emily C. Paavola Jan 2011

Life, Death, And Neuroimaging: The Advantages And Disadvantages Of The Defense's Use Of Neuroimages In Capital Cases - Lessons From The Front, John H. Blume, Emily C. Paavola

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The use of neuroimaging in capital cases has become increasingly common. An informal survey of cases produced over one hundred opinions from reported decisions alone discussing the use of computed tomography (CT) scanning, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional MRI, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans, and similar technology in capital cases. This article gives practical advice to defense counsel considering the use of neuroimaging in a capital case. We discuss how, in the right case, this technology can be a valuable investigative tool used to produce an important component of a successful mitigation story. However ...


Standards Of Proof Revisited, Kevin M. Clermont Apr 2009

Standards Of Proof Revisited, Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This Essay focuses not on how fact-finders process evidence but on how they apply the specified standard of proof to their finding. The oddity that prompts speculation is that, in noncriminal cases, the common law asks only that the fact appear more likely than not, while the Civil Law seems to apply the same high standard in these cases as it does in criminal cases. As a psychological explanation of the cognitive processes involved, some theorists posit that the bulk of fact-finding is an unconscious process, powerful but dangerous, which generates a level of confidence against which the fact-finder could ...


Burden Of Proof, Prima Facie Case And Presumption In Wto Dispute Settlement, John J. Barceló Iii Jan 2009

Burden Of Proof, Prima Facie Case And Presumption In Wto Dispute Settlement, John J. Barceló Iii

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The essay maintains that the WTO Appellate Body's concepts and terminology concerning a claimant's burden of proof-the concepts of prima facie case, presumption, and burden shifting-are disturbingly ambiguous and potentially misleading. This is so whether one thinks of these terms from either a common law or a civil law perspective. In the face of the current ambiguity, a future panel might understand the AB's prima facie case concept to require an overwhelming level of proof from the claimant. On the other hand, a different panel might allow a rather weak level of claimant's proof to meet ...


Taking A Stand On Taking The Stand: The Effect Of A Prior Criminal Record On The Decision To Testify And On Trial Outcomes, Theodore Eisenberg, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2009

Taking A Stand On Taking The Stand: The Effect Of A Prior Criminal Record On The Decision To Testify And On Trial Outcomes, Theodore Eisenberg, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article uses unique data from over 300 criminal trials in four large counties to study the relations between the existence of a prior criminal record and defendants testifying at trial, between testifying at trial and juries' learning about a criminal record, and between juries' learning about a criminal record and their decisions to convict or acquit. Sixty percent of defendants without criminal records testified compared to 45 percent with criminal records. For testifying defendants with criminal records, juries learned of those records in about half the cases. Juries rarely learned about criminal records unless defendants testified. After controlling for ...


Science On Trial, Valerie P. Hans Apr 2008

Science On Trial, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The increasing complexity of both criminal and civil jury trials raises a host of issues for lawyers and judges. For the litigator, the first question is whether a jury can be trusted with a case that turns on highly technical evidence. For the trial judge, there are decisions about the admissibility of expert testimony, whether it is based on sound science, and whether a jury is likely to be misled by scientific claims. Should the judge permit jury innovations such as note taking, question asking, and juror discussions of evidence during the trial, hoping to increase jury comprehension of the ...


Statistics In The Jury Box: How Jurors Respond To Mitochondrial Dna Match Probabilities, David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson Dec 2007

Statistics In The Jury Box: How Jurors Respond To Mitochondrial Dna Match Probabilities, David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article describes parts of an unusually realistic experiment on the comprehension of expert testimony on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing in a criminal trial for robbery. Specifically, we examine how jurors who responded to summonses for jury duty evaluated portions of videotaped testimony involving probabilities and statistics. Although some jurors showed susceptibility to classic fallacies in interpreting conditional probabilities, the jurors as a whole were not overwhelmed by a 99.98% exclusion probability that the prosecution presented. Cognitive errors favoring the defense were more prevalent than ones favoring the prosecution. These findings lend scant support to the legal argument that ...


Science In The Jury Box: Jurors' Views And Understanding Of Mitochondrial Dna Evidence, Valerie P. Hans, David H. Kaye, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson Oct 2007

Science In The Jury Box: Jurors' Views And Understanding Of Mitochondrial Dna Evidence, Valerie P. Hans, David H. Kaye, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article describes parts of an unusually realistic experiment on the comprehension of expert testimony on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing in a criminal trial for robbery. Specifically, we examine how jurors who responded to summonses for jury duty evaluated portions of videotaped testimony involving probabilities and statistics. Although some jurors showed susceptibility to classic fallacies in interpreting conditional probabilities, the jurors as a whole were not overwhelmed by a 99.98% exclusion probability that the prosecution presented. Cognitive errors favoring the defense were more prevalent than ones favoring the prosecution. These findings lend scant support to the legal argument that ...


Every Juror Wants A Story: Narrative Relevance, Third Party Guilt And The Right To Present A Defense, John H. Blume, Sheri L. Johnson, Emily C. Paavola Jul 2007

Every Juror Wants A Story: Narrative Relevance, Third Party Guilt And The Right To Present A Defense, John H. Blume, Sheri L. Johnson, Emily C. Paavola

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

On occasion, criminal defendants hope to convince a jury that the state has not met its burden of proving them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by offering evidence that someone else (a third party) committed the crime. Currently, state and federal courts assess the admissibility of evidence of third-party guilt using a variety of standards. In general, however, there are two basic approaches. Many state courts require a defendant to proffer evidence of some sort of direct link or connection between a specific third-party and the crime. A second group of state courts, as well as federal courts, admit evidence ...


Judges, Juries, And Scientific Evidence, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2007

Judges, Juries, And Scientific Evidence, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

The rise in scientific evidence offered in American jury trials, along with court rulings thrusting judges into the business of assessing the soundness of scientific evidence, have produced challenges for judge and jury alike. Many judges have taken up the duty of becoming “amateur scientists.” But what about juries? Surely they too could benefit from assistance as they attempt to master and apply complex testimony about scientific matters during the course of a trial. Concerns about the jury’s ability to understand, critically evaluate, and employ scientific evidence in deciding complex trials have led to many suggestions for reform.

This ...


Can Jury Trial Innovations Improve Juror Understanding Of Dna Evidence?, B. Michael Dann, Valerie P. Hans, David H. Kaye Nov 2006

Can Jury Trial Innovations Improve Juror Understanding Of Dna Evidence?, B. Michael Dann, Valerie P. Hans, David H. Kaye

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

A single spot of blood on a pink windowsill will tell investigators who broke a windowpane, turned a lock, and kidnapped 2-year-old Molly Evans from her bedroom in the middle of the night. An expert witness will testify that the DNA profile of the blood evidence recovered from the windowsill was entered into CODIS, an electronic database of DNA profiles. That process yielded a “hit,” identifying the defendant as the most likely source of the blood inside Molly’s room.

But will jurors be able to understand the expert’s intricate analysis and use it to reach a verdict? And ...


Wishing Petitioners To Death: Factual Misrepresentations In Fourth Circuit Capital Cases, Sheri Lynn Johnson Jul 2006

Wishing Petitioners To Death: Factual Misrepresentations In Fourth Circuit Capital Cases, Sheri Lynn Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Testing Jury Reforms, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, David H. Kaye, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson Oct 2005

Testing Jury Reforms, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, David H. Kaye, Erin J. Farley, Stephanie Albertson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

DNA evidence has become a key law enforcement tool and is increasingly presented in criminal trials in Delaware and elsewhere. The integrity of the criminal trial process turns upon the jury's ability to understand DNA evidence and to evaluate properly the testimony of experts. How well do they do? Can we assist them in the process?


Can Judges Ignore Inadmissible Information? The Difficulty Of Deliberately Disregarding, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski Apr 2005

Can Judges Ignore Inadmissible Information? The Difficulty Of Deliberately Disregarding, Andrew J. Wistrich, Chris Guthrie, Jeffrey J. Rachlinski

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Due process requires courts to make decisions based on the evidence before them without regard to information outside of the record. Skepticism about the ability of jurors to ignore inadmissible information is widespread. Empirical research confirms that this skepticism is well-founded. Many courts and commentators, however, assume that judges can accomplish what jurors cannot. This article reports the results of experiments we have conducted to determine whether judges can ignore inadmissible information. We found that the judges who participated in our experiments struggled to perform this challenging mental task. The judges had difficulty disregarding demands disclosed during a settlement conference ...


Juror Bias Is A Special Problem In High-Profile Trials, Valerie P. Hans Jan 2005

Juror Bias Is A Special Problem In High-Profile Trials, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Scott Peterson's jury convicted him and sentenced him to death. Whether he had a fair jury is a question that the appellate courts will confront as they review Peterson's appeal of his conviction and sentence. Would the jury have reached the same decisions if the case had not been so extensively covered in the media? Or was Scott Peterson condemned by media publicity? Whatever your verdict, the Peterson trial provides yet another example of the hurdles to fair trials in high-profile cases.


Standards Of Proof In Japan And The United States, Kevin M. Clermont Sep 2004

Standards Of Proof In Japan And The United States, Kevin M. Clermont

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article treats the striking divergence between Japanese and U.S. civil cases as to standards of proof. The civil-law Japan requires proof to a high probability similar to the criminal standard, while the common-law United States requires only that the burdened party prove the fact to be more likely than not. This divergence not only entails great practical consequences, but also suggests a basic difference in attitudes toward the process of trial.

As to the historical causation of the difference in standards of proof, civil-law and common-law standards diverged in the late eighteenth century, probably because of one system ...


Recent Evaluative Research On Jury Trial Innovations, B. Michael Dann, Valerie P. Hans Apr 2004

Recent Evaluative Research On Jury Trial Innovations, B. Michael Dann, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

During the past decade, state jury reform commissions, many individual federal and state judges, and jury scholars have advocated the adoption of a variety of innovative trial procedures to assist jurors in trials. Many jury trial reforms reflect growing awareness of best practices in education and communication as well as research documenting that jurors take an active rather than a passive approach to their decision-making task. Traditional adversary jury trial procedures often appear to assume that jurors are blank slates, who will passively wait until the end of the trial and the start of jury deliberations to form opinions about ...


Jurors' Evaluations Of Expert Testimony: Judging The Messenger And The Message, Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovic, Valerie P. Hans Apr 2003

Jurors' Evaluations Of Expert Testimony: Judging The Messenger And The Message, Sanja Kutnjak Ivkovic, Valerie P. Hans

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Jurors are laypersons with no specific expert knowledge, yet they are routinely placed in situations in which they need to critically evaluate complex expert testimony. This paper examines jurors' reactions to experts who testify in civil trials and the factors jurors identify as important to expert credibility. Based on in-depth qualitative analysis of interviews with 55 jurors in 7 civil trials, we develop a comprehensive model of the key factors jurors incorporate into the process of evaluating expert witnesses and their testimony. Contrary to the frequent criticism that jurors primarily evaluate expert evidence in terms of its subjective characteristics, the ...


Speeding In Reverse: An Anecdotal View Of Why Victim Impact Testimony Should Not Be Driving Capital Prosecutions, Sheri Johnson Jan 2003

Speeding In Reverse: An Anecdotal View Of Why Victim Impact Testimony Should Not Be Driving Capital Prosecutions, Sheri Johnson

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Miranda's Demise, Steven D. Clymer Jan 2003

Miranda's Demise, Steven D. Clymer

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Miranda v. Arizona has been a prominent fixture of the American criminal justice system, as well as police television shows and movies, for more than a third of a century. And when, amid considerable fanfare, the Supreme Court in June 2000 announced its decision in Dickerson v. United States, it appeared that Miranda would retain that status for the foreseeable future. In Dickerson, a surprisingly large 7–2 majority settled a long-standing debate about the constitutional legitimacy of Miranda, holding that the Miranda rules are firmly grounded in the Fifth Amendment’s self-incrimination clause.

But now, a mere three years ...


Are Police Free To Disregard Miranda?, Steven D. Clymer Dec 2002

Are Police Free To Disregard Miranda?, Steven D. Clymer

Cornell Law Faculty Publications



Tailored Police Testimony At Suppression Hearings, Joel Atlas Oct 2002

Tailored Police Testimony At Suppression Hearings, Joel Atlas

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Whether a court must suppress evidence typically turns on the conduct or observations of the police officer who discovered the evidence. By falsely testifying to the facts surrounding the discovery of the evidence, a police officer may validate a blatantly unconstitutional search. New York courts have long recognized that police officers sometimes fabricate suppression testimony to meet constitutional restrictions. Indeed, the Appellate Division has rejected police testimony at suppression hearings where the officer’s testimony appears to have been “patently tailored to nullify constitutional objections.” Although, to be sure, rejections are rare and their number appears to be declining, the ...