Mapping Evidence Law

87 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2003

See all articles by Gregory Mitchell

Gregory Mitchell

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: March 2003


This paper advances a contextualist approach to empirical legal research, arguing that legal scholars should seek to map behavioral regularities in discrete legal contexts rather than develop a broad theory of legal judgment. The need for this cartographic approach to legal behavior, and the inadequacy of a strictly nomothetic approach, is illustrated through discussion of recent applications of heuristics and biases research to evidence law. Arguments for broad reforms of evidence law based on a "cognitive miser" view of legal judgment fail to recognize the contextual limitations on this model of human judgment and fail to provide the kinds of evidence that would justify reforms to evidence law. A set of key research questions and strategies for future studies of legal judgment and decision-making is proposed, with an emphasis on developing information about the practical significance and superability of judgmental biases and errors.

Keywords: law and economics, behavioral law and economics, judgment and decision-making, cognitive heuristics, rationality, evidence law, jury behavior, judicial behavior

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Gregory, Mapping Evidence Law (March 2003). FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 75, Available at SSRN: or

Gregory Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-243-4088 (Phone)

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