Statistical Science in the Courtroom

By Pickerill, J. Mitchell | Justice System Journal, January 1, 2003 | Go to article overview

Statistical Science in the Courtroom


Pickerill, J. Mitchell, Justice System Journal


Statistical Science in the Courtroom, edited by Joseph L. Gastwirth. New York: Springer, 2000.

The use of scientific and statistical evidence, and related expert testimony, has become commonplace in the American courtroom. While lawyers have increasingly relied upon such evidence and testimony, a major concern for the justice system has been how to ensure the proper interpretation of that evidence. Statistical Science in the Courtroom is a collection of articles and research that addresses an array of legal, statistical, and technical issues involved with the use of science and statistics in the judicial process.

Although the back cover of Statistical Science in the Courtroom describes the contributors as "statisticians and legal scholars," and the book is part of a series titled "Statistics for Social Science and Public Policy," those interested in this subject matter should not be misled: most of the twenty-two chapters in the book are written by statisticians, biostatisticians, and mathematicians. According to the biographies at the beginning of the book, nineteen of the twenty-four contributors hold degrees or professional appointments in technical fields-not in law, public policy, or a social science. This is not to say that the book will not be instructive, informative, or useful for lawyers and social scientists but, rather, caveat emptor-much of this book is not for the mathematical faint of heart. It certainly does address substantive applications of statistics in the courtroom, but it is not merely a book of applied statistics with the courtroom as a setting. Many of the chapters are highly technical and demand of the reader a fair degree of statistical sophistication.

That caveat aside, Statistical Science in the Courtroom offers a fascinating and instructive look into the role statistics play in the modern legal process, and even readers without PhDs in statistics and non-methodologists will find portions of the book interesting and accessible. The collection of articles covers an impressive range of substantive legal issues as well as statistical quandaries. According to the editor, Joseph L. Gastwirth, "Most of the books on statistics in law describe the methods used to analyze data rather than on how involvement in the area of legal statistics affects statisticians and their research programs. The authors of the articles in this book were asked to write about cases in which they were experts or consultants or about the areas of law that rely on quantitative research or how their interest in the use of statistical evidence in legal cases has influenced their research. They were also encouraged to give their views on whether the courts give appropriate weights to statistical testimony" (p. v). While broad, this is a fair description of the book as a whole.

There is no obvious organization to the book; it is not organized by legal area or statistical technique, for instance. The different chapters of the book explore, in no particular order, the use of statistics and scientific evidence in litigation involving DNA evidence, environmental and toxic torts litigation, product liability, discrimination, monetary damages, warranty contracts, tobacco litigation, jury selection methods, the death penalty and deterrence, sentencing issues, pornography, fraud, and drug trafficking. Several chapters address as a general topic the role of statistics in the legal process. The statistical issues raised in the book range from general probability theory to sample size and reliability issues to discussions of specific analytical methods. While all of the subjects warrant some attention, a single book review cannot possibly do each chapter justice. Accordingly, I consider only a selection of the wide range of issues covered in the book here.

The most common subject addressed in this book involves, not surprisingly, DNA evidence. Five of the twenty-two chapters explicitly address the interpretation of DNA evidence. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Statistical Science in the Courtroom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.