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Statistics in the Jury Box: How Jurors Respond to Mitochondrial DNA Match Probabilities
Cornell Law Faculty Publications
  • David H. Kaye, Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law
  • Valerie P. Hans, Cornell Law School
  • B. Michael Dann, Maricopa County Superior Court, Arizona (retired)
  • Erin J. Farley, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
  • Stephanie Albertson, University of Delaware
Document Type
Publication Date
  • Mitochondrial DNA,
  • MtDNA,
  • DNA,
  • Scientific evidence,
  • Expert testimony,
  • Probability fallacies,
  • Jury comprehension of probability evidence,
  • Random-match probability,
  • RMP,
  • Prosecutor's fallacy,
  • Relevance fallacy
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.
Publication Citation
Published in: Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, vol. 4, no. 4 (December 2007).
Citation Information
David H. Kaye, Valerie P. Hans, B. Michael Dann, Erin J. Farley, et al.. "Statistics in the Jury Box: How Jurors Respond to Mitochondrial DNA Match Probabilities" (2007)
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