Stanford Conference on Mathematics in Court

Last month, The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics hosted a conference, “Trial With and Without Mathematics: Legal, Philosophical, and Computational Perspectives.” The conference explored the what if any role mathematics plays in the law, and in the training and education of lawyers.

The program was organized by Marcello Di Bello (Stanford Univ., Department of Philosophy), and Bart Verheij (Stanford Univ., CodeX Center for Legal Informatics, and Univ. of Groningen, Institute of Artificial Intelligence). DiBello teaches an undergraduate course, Probability and the Law, at Stanford.

The program featured presentations by:

Sandy L. Zabell (Northwestern Univ.) on “A Tribe of Skeptics: Probability and the 19th Century Law of Evidence,” (Slides; Video), with commentary by Andrea Roth (Univ. California, Berkeley School of Law);

Susan Haack (Univ. of Miami School of Law), on “Legal Probabilism: An Epistemological Dissent,” (Slides; Video), with commentary by Charles H. Brenner (Univ. California, Berkeley School of Law) (Slides);

William C. Thompson (Univ. California, Irvine Dep’t Criminology, Law & Society), on “How Should Forensic Scientists Explain Their Evidence to Juries: Match Probabilities, Likelihood Ratios, or ‘Verbal Equivalents’? (Slides; Video), with commentary by Paul Brest (Stanford Law School);

Henry Prakken (Univ. Groningen), on Models of Legal Proof and Their Cognitive Plausibility,” (Slides; Video), with commentary by Sarah B. Lawsky (Univ. California, Irvine, School of Law) (Slides);

Vern Walker (Hofstra Univ. School of Law), on “Computational Representation of Legal Reasoning at the Law-Fact Interface,” (Slides; Video), with commentary by Bart Verheij (Slides); and

Ronald J. Allen (Northwestern Univ. School of Law) presented onWhat Are We Doing? Reconsidering Juridical Proof Rules,” (Slides; Video), with commentary by Marcello Di Bello.

An interesting collection of presentations and commentary, which I have not yet reviewed carefully.  Professor Haack’s presentation seems to cover much the same ground covered at a conference on Standards of Proof and Scientific Evidence, held at the University of Girona, in Spain.  Her previous lecture can be viewed on-line, and a manuscript of Haack’s paper is available , as well.  Susan Haack, “Legal Probabilism:  An Epistemological Dissent” (2011)(cited here as “Haack”).  SeeHaack Attack on Legal Probabilism” (2012).

Professor Haack’s papers and presentations on law, legal evidence, and probability are slated for republication in book form, this August. Susan Haack, Evidence Matters: Science, Proof, and Truth in the Law (Cambridge 2014). The contents look familiar:

1. Epistemology and the law of evidence: problems and projects

2. Epistemology legalized: or, truth, justice, and the American way

3. Legal probabilism: an epistemological dissent

4. Irreconcilable differences? The troubled marriage of science and law

5. Trial and error: two confusions in Daubert

6. Federal philosophy of science: a deconstruction – and a reconstruction

7. Peer review and publication: lessons for lawyers

8. What’s wrong with litigation-driven science?

9. Proving causation: the weight of combined evidence

10. Correlation and causation: the ‘Bradford Hill Criteria’ in epidemiological, legal, and epistemological perspective

11. Risky business: statistical proof of specific causation

12. Nothing fancy: some simple truths about truth in the law




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