The Practical Application of Probability in Court: Advancing Science or Timeless Art?
Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of the Law
May 17, 2013
The application of probability to issues of proof and evidence is now a well-developed academic field, forming as it does a central part of the ‘science of evidence’. But how far has that science developed in the practical setting of the court room? Starting from its roots and reviewing its progress to the present day, it is argued that while the science which supports statistical evidence has become ever more sophisticated, almost nothing has changed in English courts so far as what happens during the process of a trial. In this respect, the formal court dress worn by English advocates, largely unchanged since 1685, is emblematic of the lack of progress of probability theory since its inception.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 71
Keywords: evidence, balance of probabilities, beyond reasonable doubt, Bayes Theorem, standard of proof, law and science, likelihood ratios, R v Barry George, R v Adams, R v T
JEL Classification: B30, K40
Date posted: May 17, 2013