Significant Statistics: The Unwitting Policy Making of Mathematically Ignorant Judges
107 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 17 May 2014
Date Written: 2010
This article will explore several areas in which judges, hampered by their mathematical ignorance, have permitted numerical analysis to subvert the goals of our legal system. In Part II, I will examine the perversion of the presumption of innocence in paternity cases, where courts make the counter-factual assumption that regardless of the evidence, prior to DNA testing, a suspect has a 50/50 chance of being the father. In Part III, I will explore the unnecessary injection of race into trials involving the statistics of DNA matching, even when race is entirely irrelevant to the particular case. Next, in Part IV, I will discuss how courts use race- and gender-based statistics to reduce damages in tort cases for women and racial minorities, and silently assert that past racism and sexism will continue. In the final section, I will examine how judges have improperly allocated the risk of error in cases such as securities fraud, so as to reward those who have attempted to manipulate stock prices illegally.
Keywords: judges, numerical analysis, statistics, mathematical ignorance, paternity cases, DNA matching, race, women, minorities, tort damages, racism, sexism, securities fraud, stock price manipulation
JEL Classification: K13, K22, K29, K39, K41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation