Statistics in the Jury Box: How Juror Respond to Mitochondial DNA Probabilities

49 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2007

See all articles by David H. Kaye

David H. Kaye

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law; Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - School of Life Science

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law

B. Michael Dann

Independent

Erin Farley

University of Delaware

Stephanie Albertson

University of Delaware

Abstract

This article describes parts of an unusually realistic experiment on the comprehension of expert testimony on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing in a criminal trial for robbery. Specifically, we examine how jurors who responded to summonses for jury duty evaluated portions of videotaped testimony involving probabilities and statistics. Although some jurors showed susceptibility to classic fallacies in interpreting conditional probabilities, the jurors as a whole were not overwhelmed by a 99.98% exclusion probability that the prosecution presented. Cognitive errors favoring the defense were more prevalent than ones favoring the prosecution. These findings lend scant support to the legal argument that mtDNA evidence (with modest exclusion probabilities) should be excluded because jurors are prone to overvalue such evidence. The article also introduces a new method for inferring the perceived probability of guilt that satisfies the burden of persuasion for most jurors.

Keywords: jury, DNA, scientific evidence, probability fallacies

Suggested Citation

Kaye, David H. and Hans, Valerie P. and Dann, B. Michael and Farley, Erin and Albertson, Stephanie, Statistics in the Jury Box: How Juror Respond to Mitochondial DNA Probabilities. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies; 1st Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=996134

David H. Kaye (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

University Park, PA 16802
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dhk3/index.htm

Arizona State University - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - School of Life Science ( email )

111 E Taylor St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dhk3/index.htm

Valerie P. Hans

Cornell University - School of Law ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-0095 (Phone)

B. Michael Dann

Independent ( email )

P.O. Box 2822
Williamsburg, VA 23187
United States
757-253-9845 (Phone)
757-253-9015 (Fax)

Erin Farley

University of Delaware ( email )

Newark, DE 19716
United States

Stephanie Albertson

University of Delaware ( email )

Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice
322 Smith Hall
Newark, DE 19716
United States
302-831-4420 (Phone)

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