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Can Juries Differentiate Between Good Science and Bad Science?

The stakes can be life or death. Are our juries acting prudently? The United States judicial system assumes that jurors are able to critically analyze testimonies when forming their decisions. But when psychological expert testimony is made in cases that may or may not bear the death penalty, do jurors effectively differentiate between strong expert evidence and more subjective clinical opinion?

While our justice system assumes this competency on the part of juries, CMC Psychology Professor Daniel Krauss believes otherwise. In an article in the June 2001 issue of Psychology, Public Policy, & Law, he argues that jurors typically are more affected by clinical opinion expert testimony than more scientifically sound testimony.

Krauss joined CMC in the summer of 2000 and teaches Forensic, Abnormal, and General Psychology. The Supreme Court of the United States recently named him to one of four Fellowships for the coming year. The Fellowship places "exceptionally talented" individuals in the administration of the federal judiciary; Krauss will serve in the United States Sentencing Commission, an independent agency that establishes sentencing guidelines.

Currently, Krauss is Legal Editor of the American Psychology - Law Society Newsletter, and is member of associations in the fields of psychology and law. Krauss completed his Ph.D. in a joint major in clinical and psychology, policy, and law at the University of Arizona. He earlier graduated with honors both from the school's College of Law and from Johns Hopkins University with an undergraduate degree in psychology.

Krauss clearly has a strong foundation and expertise in the interplay of psychology and law. Please join the Athenaeum for what promises to be an insightful look at the justice system from a man recognized by the Supreme Court itself for his talent.

The lecture by Professor Krauss is part of the Athenaeum series Faculty Ideas in Progress.