The Potential of Blind Collaborative Justice

The Potential of Blind Collaborative Justice: Testing the Impact of Expert Blinding and Consensus Building on the Validity of Forensic Testimony

Carolyn Wong
Eyal Aharoni
Gursel Rafig oglu Aliyev
Jacqueline Du Bois
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 39
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/j.ctt15sk8ph
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  • Book Info
    The Potential of Blind Collaborative Justice
    Book Description:

    Biased expert testimony is a leading cause of wrongful convictions, and new techniques are needed to reduce such biases. RAND researchers conducted an experimental investigation of two potential contributors to biased testimony within adversarial litigation involving forensic evidence: (1) experts’ knowledge of their party representation (i.e., prosecution vs. defense counsel), and (2) lack of input from the relevant scientific community.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-9143-7
    Subjects: Law, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Figures
    (pp. v-v)
  5. Tables
    (pp. v-v)
  6. Summary
    (pp. vi-vii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. viii-viii)
  8. Abbreviations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  9. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    As many as 15 of every 100 incarcerated offenders may be wrongfully convicted, according to DNA evidence–matching techniques (Roman et al., 2012). One reason for this is scientifically invalid testimony on forensic evidence (e.g., Gould et al., 2012; Innocence Project, 2013).¹

    The federal government has recognized that there are concerns regarding forensic testimony in the courtroom. For example, Congress directed the Attorney General to form a National Forensic Science Commission as part of the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-405). The Department of Justice (DOJ) fulfilled this mandate by awarding a contract to the National...

  10. 2. Methods and Data Collection
    (pp. 8-15)

    The purpose of this study was to examine two potential contributors to biased testimony within adversarial litigation involving forensic evidence: (1) experts’ knowledge of their party representation (i.e., prosecution vs. defense counsel), and (2) lack of consensus feedback from the relevant scientific community. The methods employed to address these questions implemented the following basic steps:

    1. Develop a hypothetical criminal case with forensic evidence

    2. Generate consensus interpretation of evidence with panel of relevant experts

    3. Conduct between-subjects experiment with at least 300 scientists in relevant fields

    Our first step was to generate a hypothetical criminal case with a mathematically...

  11. 3. Analyses and Findings
    (pp. 16-19)

    First, we sought to understand the distribution of correct and incorrect responses to the probability question prior to introduction of consensus feedback (see Figure 3.1). Among respondents in this condition, 88.2 percent provided incorrect responses (greater or less than a score of 50 percent). On average, respondents estimated a 43.4 percent (SD = 36.4) probability that the defendant used the stairwell during the time in question (median = 25 percent, mode = 10 percent). However, such measures of central tendency are limited due to the multimodal nature of the distribution, which reveals possible evidence of discrete cognitive strategies. As expected,...

  12. 4. Conclusions and Closing Remarks
    (pp. 20-23)

    This analysis produced two key findings:

    1. Expert consensus feedback resulted in a performance improvement.

    2. An advantage due to blinding was not observed.

    Expert consensus feedback regarding the correct response to the reasoning problem demonstrated the predicted significant effect on response errors: Delivery of feedback resulted in improved performance. This result is also consistent with previous research (Wong, 2003), and the fact that expert consensus building approaches have been used for over half a century in a variety of disciplines suggests that this approach could help reduce biased expert testimony in criminal cases.

    Our finding that delivery of expert...

  13. Appendix: Supplemental Analysis
    (pp. 24-25)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 26-30)