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Decision Making and the Law: Truth Barriers

Gideon Keren & George Wu, eds., Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making, Forthcoming

Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-04

30 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013 Last revised: 3 Mar 2013

Date Written: February 13, 2013

Abstract

Reaching an accurate outcome is a central goal of the American trial. But structural features of the legal system, in combination with the cognitive shortcomings of legal actors, hinder the search for truth. Regarding the legal system, various rules and policies restrict decision makers’ access to evidence, violate the laws of probability, and limit the evidentiary concerns that may be considered on appeal. Regarding legal actors, informational deficits (particularly regarding scientific and statistical evidence) and cognitive biases of police investigators, witnesses (lay and expert), attorneys, judges, and jurors pose serious obstacles. We conclude by suggesting that research in judgment and decision making may hold the key to understanding legal decisions and increasing their accuracy.

Keywords: decision-making, law, evidence, statistical evidence, jurors, judges, cognitive bias, heuristics, DNA

JEL Classification: K10, K19, K40, K49

Suggested Citation

Koehler, Jonathan J. and Meixner, John B., Decision Making and the Law: Truth Barriers (February 13, 2013). Gideon Keren & George Wu, eds., Wiley-Blackwell Handbook of Judgment and Decision Making, Forthcoming ; Northwestern Law & Econ Research Paper No. 13-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2217003

Jonathan J. Koehler (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

John B. Meixner

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Northwestern University - Department of Psychology

Evanston, IL
United States

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