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Student Projects


Television Intoxication and other Media Defenses:
"TV made me do it?" How is expert testimony on the link between violent media and aggressive behavior used to support this claim? (Adrienne Buckman & Alyce Cobb)

Obscenity and the First Amendment:
How is social science evidence used to identify a community's standards in obscenity cases? (Iona Sharma & Sicheng Zhou)

Going "Postal (2)" on the Violent Video Game Industry: Evidence on the link between violent video games and aggressive behavior was used in determining the constitutionality of California's "Violent Video Games" Act. (Natalie Wallace & Herve Comeau)

Same Sex Marriage:
Legalization of same-sex marriage is a hot issue these days. Nowadays in the U.S., there are overall 43 states, which legally prohibit marriage between same-sex couples, while other 10 states allow gays and lesbians to get married. (Jingyi Feng, Yingnan Ma, Di Wu)

Punitive Damages: Exxon v. Baker:
The Exxon Valdez disaster and subsequent litigation presented for the Supreme Court the controversial issue of punitive damages award ratios and the social science research on the history and effects of punitive damages award ratios in the context of maritime tort law.(Nicholas Kaasik and Carlos Valero Carrasco)

Intoxication or Disassociation in Veterans: How do psychiatrists determine a defendant-veteran's mental state at the time of an offense? If a defendant-veteran argues that they were "disassociated" during the offense, how do psychiatrists commissioned for litigation prove or disprove this claim? Finally, who decides whether alcohol or PTSD motivated the defendant-veteran to commit the offense? (Alex Hendricks)

Juvenile Offenders Before and After Graham v. Florida: Roper v. Simmons, Graham v. Florida, and Miler v. Alabama outlawed the most severe punishments for juvenile offenders on the theory that they are less culpable than adults. The social science evidence generally agrees, but what about the outlier cases? (Daniel Dubois and Zach Zemlin)


Driving While Black: Read about the controversy over this most infamous type of racial profiling. Are law enforcement officials really more likely to stop and search vehicles driven by racial minorities? (Charlie Brown and Amanda Jantzi)

Empirical Evidence in Tort Liability Cases: The Key Ignition Example: Ever left your car keys in the ignition? Empirical data have been used to determine whether there was a reasonably foreseeable risk that a thief would steal a defendant's car and subsequently injure a plaintiff in cases where the defendant left car keys in the ignition. (David Waytz)

Rape Trauma Syndrome: Forcible rape is one of the four major violent crimes in the United States. Victims, mostly women, are often misunderstood by juries who have little knowledge about the common responses to rape. (Yan Yu Yip and Mei Yuan)

Kidnapping: Traditional psychiatric defenses used in criminal cases include insanity and diminished capacity. (Lauren Bowman, Dominique Forrest, and Malissa Osei)

Trade Dress: How does the Trademark law protect a restaurant decor or a smartphone design, under the umbrella concept of trade dress? Read the real life use of expert testimony, surveys and visual presentations as well as the potential use of neurological evidence. (Michael Baak and Eric Torres)

Jury Size: Less is not More: How many jurors are needed for a fair trial? Read about how the Supreme Court and social scientists used empirical evidence to determine the optimal number of jurors needed for a representative sample and thorough deliberation. (Evan Moore and Tali Panken)

Drug Courier Profiles: In an effort to win the "War on Drugs," law enforcement agencies are using drug courier profiles to identify and detain persons who display certain suspicious characteristics. The Supreme Court has upheld the use of these profiles against Fourth Amendment challenges. But the general lack of objective standards used to determine what constitutes "reasonable suspicion" have led many to think admitting drug courier profile evidence impermissibly tramples upon cherished Equal Protection Clause protections. (Larissa Cespedes-Yaffar, Shayona Dhanak, and Amy Stephenson)

Battered Woman Syndrome: How is expert testimony on the nature and effects of domestic abuse used in cases when a battered woman is the defendant? (Michelle Strucke & Kate Hajjar)

Relationship Between Pimps and Prostitutes: How are women coerced into prostitution? Why don't they leave their pimps? Read about how social science on the typical pimp-prostitute relationship has been employed to explain these phenomena. (Mark Grough & Toby Goldbach)

Duty to Warn: How courts consider predictions of future dangerousness when assigning civil liability. (Matthew Campbell and Cristina Quinones-Betancourt)

A Comparative Analysis on Risk Assessment: One of a state's justifying main functions is the protection of its citizens against threats resulting from other citizens or external sources. (Mathias Kahler, Shir Lachish, and Catarina Tourais)

False Confessions: Police-induced false confessions are among the leading causes of wrongul convictions. (Michal Blau, Amelia Hritz, and Sara Tomezsko)

Implicit Bias: What are the ways in which unconscious racial biases can influence juries, judges, and attorneys? (Caisa Royer, Daniel Hido, and Michael Slotnick)

Gender Discrimination and Class Actions: Wal-Mart v. Dukes: A group of female employees alleged that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. discriminated against them on the basis of gender. When the women sought to file as a nationwide class, the crux of the case rested on the following question: "whether the women were similar enough to be certified as a class." (Fatmata Kabia, Filippo Macchi, Camille Bacon-Shulte, and Yuyao Tao)

Damages for Wrongful Death: How can we measure the value of a human life? Read about the government's approach in administering the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, a federal court's handling of a class action against Ferdinand Marcos, and an alternative approach that applies the economic theory of "willingness-to-pay." (Jeff Hobday and Jonathan White)