Apr 8, 2016
12:30pm - 2:00pm    |    Wilf 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal Street, New York, NY


Valid ID and RSVP required. RSVP here or email Anam Salem. Lunch will be provided.

Social science experts are increasingly called by the defense or prosecution in international criminal trials, and researchers have only just begun to evaluate their reception in the courtroom. An analysis of over 450 expert appearances shows that in general international courts prefer scientific methods in accordance with stated policy. However, social science evidence is an exception to the trend; when social scientists are called, international courts favor qualitative approaches on aggregate. The discussion compares two cases of expert testimony at international hate speech trials to understand why social science evidence is handled differently.  It becomes apparent that judges accept qualitative language experts because they do not challenge judicial sovereignty or the status hierarchy of the courtroom. Judges are more likely to exclude quantitative experts on the grounds that “common sense” suffices as the basis of facticity and knowledge about human behavior in criminal law.

About the Speaker 
Wilson 360x450
Richard Ashby Wilson is the Gladstein Distinguished Chair of Human Rights and Professor of Law and Anthropology at UConn Law School, and founding director of the Human Rights Institute at UConn.

Wilson studies international human rights, and in particular post-conflict justice institutions such as truth and reconciliation commissions and international criminal tribunals. His research on truth commissions focused on how successor governments seek to write history and to forestall retributive justice. His most recent book, Writing History in International Criminal Trials, selected by Choice in 2012 as an “Outstanding Academic Title” in the law category, analyzed the ways in which international prosecutors and defense attorneys marshal historical evidence to advance their case. His current project, Propaganda On Trial: the law and social science of international speech crimes, combines law and empirical approaches, including psychology and qualitative interviews, to understand recent efforts by international courts to prosecute political leaders for inciting genocide and instigating war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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