Statistics for Lawyers and Law for Statistics

25 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2019

See all articles by David H. Kaye

David H. Kaye

PSU - Penn State Law (University Park); ASU - College of Law & School of Life Sciences

Date Written: January 20, 1991


After describing the textbook, Statistics for Lawyers, by Michael O. Finkelstein and Bruce Levin, this review-essay reflects on the role of probability calculations in trials and appeals. It probes an unusual statistical argument involving a joint normal distribution for the time required to commit a murder. The argument was presented on appeal — and forcefully rejected in an erudite opinion — in Branion v. Gamly, 855 F.2d 1256 (7th Cir. 1988). This essay critiques the calculations of both counsel and the court of appeals. It suggests that the case is one in which the "probability evidence" was unconvincing for want of adequate data on the phenomenon that was modeled.

Keywords: evidence, probability, normal distribution, random variables, statistical models

Suggested Citation

Kaye, David H., Statistics for Lawyers and Law for Statistics (January 20, 1991). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 6, 1991, Available at SSRN:

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)

PSU - Penn State Law (University Park)

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States


ASU - College of Law & School of Life Sciences ( email )

111 E Taylor St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States


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