The Legal Process from a Behavioral Perspective

By Stuart S. Nagel | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Utility of the Concepts and the Methods

It is the purpose of this chapter to offer some tentative answers to the question, "What can social science contribute to law?" It seems logical to answer this question from the point of view of the three main types of personnel within the legal profession: the practicing lawyer, the legal policymaker and the legal scholar. The specific examples given in the footnotes represent a sampling of the relevant literature.1


I. THE PRACTICING LAWYER

Social science methodology and substance can be useful to the practicing lawyer mainly by providing him with some materials that he might be able to introduce into evidence to win specific cases or points.2 With regard to methodology, polling techniques may be valuable in resolving such issues as trademark infringement,3 change of venue 4 or community standards of fitness for citizenship.5 Systematic statistical analysis may be relevant to show that an alleged favoritism or discrimination is not readily attributable to chance.6 Systematic observation or content analysis of documents may reveal patterns of behavior relevant to determining

____________________
1
For further discussion of the relations between social science and law, see LAW AND SOCIOLOGY ( EVAN ed. 1962); DAVISet al., SOCIETY AND THE LAW -- NEW MEAN- INGS FOR AN OLD PROFESSION ( 1962); and "Frontiers of Legal Research", 7 AM. BEHAV. SCI.1 ( December, 1963).
2
Greenberg, "Social Scientists Take the Stand -- A Review and Appraisal of Their Testimony in Litigation", 54 MICH. L. REV.953 ( 1956).
3
Zeisel, "The Uniqueness of Survey Evidence", 45 CORNELL L. Q.322 ( 1960).
4
Sherman, "Use of Public Opinion Polls in Continuance and Venue Hearings", 50 A.B.A.J.357 ( 1964).
5
Repouille v. United States, 165 F. 2d ( 1947), especially Jerome Frank's dissent.
6
Ulmer, "Supreme Court Behavior in Racial Exclusion Cases", 56 AM. POL. SCI. REV. 325 ( 1962).

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